Modeling involves demonstrating something you want your child to do. Even children less than one year’s old repeat what they have seen others do. At a basic level, when they hear “sit down†and see someone lower their body until their bottom is touching a chair, they learn how to sit. It is easier for children to learn skills when the words and the actions are repeatedly paired together.

As a classroom teacher, I modeled walking in the hallway, greeting peers, and appropriate volume when talking for my students. It was easy for me to do this in this professional setting, and I did it consistently. However, I must confess that in my private life, modeling with my own child was harder, and I did it less consistently. For example, I might tell her to stop yelling by yelling “STOP YELLING….USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE!!!†Although modeling was happening, I modeled the very behavior I wanted her to decrease. As you can imagine, yelling went up and using “inside†voice went down. When selecting between listening to what I told her to do and following what I showed her, my child selected the behavior she saw me doing (the Copy Cat Rule). “Do as I say and not as I do†does not work!

To turn things around, I had to parent like a teacher! In my classroom, if one of my students yelled to make requests, I would first model / demonstrate how to make a request using the appropriate volume. Then I would only grant requests that were asked using the appropriate volume. Technically, this part also involves reinforcement, but it starts with a good model / demonstration of the appropriate behavior! Any guesses for what happened to yelling in my house after I used these same classroom strategies with my child? If you guessed, yelling went down and “Excuse me mommy, can I have _____? Please…. Thank you!†went up, you guessed right!

Quick Tips:

-Model / Demonstrate the behavior you want

-Provide an accurate match of your words and actions

-Remember the “Copy Cat Ruleâ€

-Keep up the good work! You will always be your child’s first teacher!

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