Parenting is definitely not easy. Parents have to take care of all the basic necessities for their children. This includes clothing, food, housing, and so on. But parenting doesn’t end here. Parents are also responsible for their children’s psychological growth and development. Parents are usually not aware of the fact the children are always watching and learning.
This is why we decided to talk about parent’s lifestyle choices today. Let’s see how your lifestyle choices as a parent impact the development of your child. But, before we are able to do it, we have to make a quick stop to see what observational learning is.
What is Observational Learning?
Humans are complex beings especially when it comes to learning and retention. There are many different ways that we learn new things. This also applies to when we learn how to behave. While most of us are familiar with different forms of direct learning, what we don’t know much about is indirect learning.
The most common type of learning that we’ve been practicing on a daily basis ever since we were born is observational learning. This type of learning happens through a process of watching others and then imitating or modeling the behavior we see. And do you know when this type of learning is most common? During childhood, children frequently learn new behaviors by observing the behavior of authority figures – you, their parents.
This especially applies to behaviors that you as a parent repeat every day and consistently during longer periods of time.
Did you know that cigarette smoking is responsible for almost 500,000 deaths per year in the U.S. only? Even though there are countless anti-smoking campaigns out there, more than 3,000 young people light their first cigarette each day. While this can be attributed to learning from peers and other factors, observational learning plays a huge role.
In fact, research clearly shows that adolescents are more likely to start smoking if their parents smoke as well. The message perceived by children here is quite clear. They’ve been seeing their parents smoking every day for the past decade. This behavior is imprinted in their brain. The act of lighting a cigarette becomes quite natural for them. And it is just a matter of time before they do it.
If you are smoking cigarettes, you should educate yourself about side effects and how dangerous it is. Secondhand smoke is hurting your child. This is why you should consider quitting. It will benefit both you and your children.
Parenting Style as a Lifestyle Option
Maybe you don’t know, but the parenting style is passed on from one generation of parents to the other. Chances are that you’ve learned yours through observational learning from your parents. The great news is that you can fix it by becoming more conscious of how you interact with your child and how you make demands as a parent figure.
The bad parenting styles are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and overprotective. The authoritarian parent presents a set of rules to their children, the rules that, if broken, demand punishment. This often results in a rebellious child, or more often in a dependent child. The permissive parent allows a child to do whatever he or she wants, which often results in a child that has very little self-control.
An uninvolved parent is not present in the life of the child at all, resulting in a child that is very undemanding of itself and the society. And in the end, we have an overprotective parent whose child often becomes dependent and anxious.
This is why you should make authoritative parenting your lifestyle option. It’s never too late to fix the mistakes you’ve made. Be there for your children, set rules and boundaries, but make sure to explain why. Listen to your children and respond to their feedback. You children will grow into independent thinkers with great self-confidence.
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity
A negative body image can result in anxiety, depression, and sometimes in an eating disorder. Sadly, children develop a negative body image by modeling their parents. It all starts with an unhealthy diet and poor or no physical activity in combination with negative comments about body size, shape, weight, and food.
This affects children’s minds and they become pathologically aware of the weight and size of their own and the bodies of everyone else. Anti-fat attitudes are very common in children living with such parents.
This can be easily prevented or fixed. Your role as a model here is very important. Start by modeling healthy eating habits and physical activity. Stop making negative comments about things related to food and body. This will teach children that they are responsible for how they look like, they will learn how to properly diet and develop a healthy habit to exercise.
Smartphones have, without any doubt, made our lives so much easier. But they did one more thing. They brought entertainment to our pockets. There are more and more parents who don’t want their child to disturb them while they are scrolling their Facebook feed or watching videos on YouTube. To occupy the child, they give them a smartphone or tablet of their own.
How this affects parents and their children? Everyone becomes disconnected, especially emotionally. On top of that, parents become more aggressive when a child interrupts them while they are scrolling. Thus, involuntarily, parents use the authoritarian parenting style to disconnect from their children even more and make them more dependent.
You can not ask of your children to put down their phones if you still have one in your hands. Put down your phones and spend quality time together. Whether you decide to play with your child or take a walk with them, it will help you emotionally connect and teach your child something new. The digital world will harm you and your kids only if you let it.
The growth and development of your child are in your hands. Your lifestyle choices have a direct impact on them and what they’ll become when they grow up. Critical thinkers with high self-confidence are not born but shaped by parents and their healthy lifestyle choices.