The Helpful Experiment

Whatever behavior we expect out of our children, we should expect that same behavior from ourselves. As parents, we have a wonderful privilege of being our child’s first and most important teacher, and no matter how old they are, they are learning from us every day. 

THE MODELING TOOL reminds us we always have little eyes, little ears, and little brains watching, listening, and learning from our every move…every day.  Even as our kids grow and their eyes, ears, and brains aren’t so little anymore, they are still learning from us.  They see how we treat our spouses.  They listen to how we talk to the dog.  They are learning how to resolve conflict, handle disappointments, solve problems, overcome adversity, speak respectfully, and love and serve others.  

No matter what we do, what we say, how we react, they are learning from us.  And they will take these behaviors out into the world—in their classrooms, in their friendships, to work, to their marriages, and ultimately to their own children.  

What we model matters. 

I remember years ago, I was having trouble with my kids doing things to be helpful.  They would do things if we made them or if there was a consequence to go with our request, but doing things just to be helpful wasn’t happening.  It made me very frustrated!

But I knew that to teach my kids to be more helpful, the answer wasn’t harsher consequences or raising my voice a little louder when I asked them to do something.  The answer was to model helpfulness. Helpfulness had to start with me.  So I did a little Helpful Experiment for a week…

  • I started being more helpful. “Hey, I noticed your laundry basket was full, so I threw in a load for you…just to be helpful.”
  • I started asking how I could be more helpful.  “How can I be helpful with your chores today?”
  • I started thanking them for being helpful.  “I noticed you took your plate to the sink–thank you for being so helpful.”
  • I started pointing out others who were being helpful.  “Did you see that man open the door for that lady?  That was really helpful.”

I started saturating our conversations with the word “helpful” and I made sure to do things to be more helpful to them. 

And it worked!!!

In just one week, my kids started being more helpful—to me, to each other.  Hmmmmm….very interesting!

Observational learning isn’t a new concept, but it is a powerful one.  If you want your child to be more helpful, you have to be more helpful.  If you want your child to be more respectful, you have to be more respectful.  If you want your child to stop yelling, you have to stop yelling.  

No matter what changes you hope to see in your child, start with you first.  Do your own experiment and see what positive changes YOU can make in your family. 

Lord, remind us how much our children are looking up to us, learning from us, and modeling whatever they see.  Help us to be a reflection of Your love and light into their lives!

Here’s to building better families together–
Christine

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