Two Steps Ahead: Leading Children by Example

Yana's 2nd Blog Pic

There are moments when we see a reflection of ourselves in our son’s words, our niece’s gestures, our students’ movements…

Can you recall a moment like that? Was it pleasant? Was it unpleasant?

Did you ever wonder why these reflections happen?

One of the factors that influence our children’s behaviour is our example. Our actions while we are around them play a vital role.

With the discovery of mirror neurons, neuroscientists argue that primates and humans imitate one another on a neurological level. Neuropsychiatrist Marco Iacoboni in his book “Mirroring People” explains how neurons on an observer’s brain respond to the actions of someone else performing an action as though the observer was doing those actions himself. He maintains that we are neurologically wired for empathy and connecting to one another.

Looking at our children’s actions from this point of view, we recognize the responsibility we carry to behave in ways that influence them in a right direction.

But this responsibility does not need to be a burden… It also involves the journey of looking at ourselves in the mirror and deciding which parts of ourselves we would like to transform and which to treasure.

It’s really a win – win situation. We continue to develop ourselves and we can better lead the children in our life. And in the process, we can create a bond beyond words between us.

At this point we start thinking: What values do we want to instill in our children? Which direction is most important for us now? What do we need to transform to go in that direction?

We start with “Just a small step” in the direction that most beckons our heart at that moment. (See blog entry June 23, 2016, “A small step towards a brighter path”).

Step by step, we develop the habit of becoming more aware and mindful of our actions, at least in a specific direction. In the book “Fully Present”, Susan Smalley proposes 4 steps or ingredients for behaviour change:

Simple steps – Starting with a small step, something that we can do.
Supportive environment – Surrounding ourselves with helpful people or situations.
Motivation – Wishing to see our children walking towards a better path.
Repetition – Continuing step by step until it becomes part of our actions.
As we walk in mindfulness, we realize that we don’t need to be experts. On our way, we will start helping the children around us, because:

They start mirroring our behaviour as we go on our self awareness journey and start connecting to their own self awareness search.
As we continue finding unique paths for ourselves, we understand how to help them discover their own paths.
We realize that we need to walk just two steps ahead of our children to start leading them in the right direction. They will instinctively follow, and as we see ourselves mirrored in their actions, we will be even more motivated to continue on our own paths.

Like in a mirroring dance, we can help one another on our journeys towards self-awareness.

We are leading just two steps ahead…

Written by:                                                                                                          Yana Ricart                                                                                                Psychotherapist                                                                                            SACAC Counselling

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