Over the years, my youngest son and I have been told that we look alike. While I think there are similarities (he’s much better looking), I also think there are differences. We are very close because we had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together when he was growing up. Recently, I celebrated a milestone birthday and my daughter created a memory book for me with letters and notes from many of my family members. I was overwhelmed by the mention of my personal attributes that they had tried to follow, especially my youngest son. it reminded me of how much children look to adults for behavior guidelines. Children imitate what we do and what values we exhibit with our behavior. We are being watched constantly. When I was observing a student teacher recently, I had just settled into a chair to begin the observation when one of the students came up to me and said, “I like how you smile every time you visit.” I was unaware that I did that or that anyone noticed. But, someone had been watching.
This experience has made me more aware of being watched and copied by children. As teachers are unkind, unreasonable in their expectations, or disrespectful in their comments to children, what are they modeling for their students? What type of value system treats others unkindly and with contempt? Those of us who teach have all had experiences with children who are disrespectful and when meeting their parents it is very obvious where the modeling of that disrespect occurred. We may not be able to do much about modeling at home, but we can do modeling at school. We can model the respectful value system that we believe is the best for everyone. We can make sure that our behavior matches how we really believe others should be treated.
My son can’t do much about looking like me physically, but I always hoped that he would pick up my best attributes to help form his personality. He is an amazing and successful person. I hope I can take a little credit for that.