3 Things Children Learn That Parents Aren’t Teaching

Parenting is a job that occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the day the baby is born until the day they…well, until forever. A parent’s job is never done. Parents aren’t always teaching their children things directly and by design either. Sure, parents teach children to tie their shoes and help them learn their letters and numbers and other academic things. Parents may choose to teach their children about their religion or their favorite TV show or book. Children don’t always learn only when parents intend to teach them, however. In fact, some of the most important lessons that your children are learning about life might actually happen while you are doing things other than parenting.

Children learn how you handle stress, anxiety, and frustration. When you are upset, if you yell and scream, children see this, even if the yelling and screaming isn’t directed at them. Parents who are high strung may raise children that are high strung as well. Of course, if you suppress your emotions, your children learn from that, too. Remembering that little eyes are always watching is really important for parents. Express anger, frustration, and anxiety. But work on doing it in constructive ways and helping your child understand what you are feeling when things come along that cause problems.

Children learn from watching their parents interact with one another. How do you and your spouse or significant other interact with one another? Who makes the decisions? Do disagreements always end in raised voices and tears? Is respect demonstrated on a daily basis? Do your children see you and your spouse being affectionate with one another? These questions are important in helping your child shape their own ideas about what relationships and marriage should be like. Model for your child the type of relationship or marriage that you would like for them to be involved in one day. Don’t feel like children should never see their parents disagree, or that you can’t express displeasure with your significant other. However, do remember that your children are watching and your relationship may be the standard to which they compare their own future relationships. Are you and your spouse setting the example you want them to learn from?

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Children learn what’s the most important to their parents. You may just think that you are sitting down to send a few emails, but if your child asks for your attention and you ask them to hold on, they’ve learned something from this interaction. If your child sees you and your spouse sitting down in front of the television every night and not communicating, they’ve learned something from that, too. On the other hand, if your children see you hiring a babysitter so you can your spouse can go out on a date, they’ve learned that you both value your relationship and making time for one another. If you decide not to worry about cleaning the bathroom and play a game of Chutes and Ladders instead, they’ve learned that they are more important to you than a clean house. Of course, you can’t be expected to be at your child’s beckoned call every day. But remember that your children learn about what matters most to you by what you do, not what you say.

What did you teach your child today? You may be surprised to learn that it was much more than you realized. Parents have to remember that little eyes are always watching, and some of the most important lessons children learn about life might actually happen while they are doing things other than parenting.