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Role Modeling Good Behavior

There are three absolute truths to parenting children:

  1. Don’t do it if you don’t want your child to do it too
  2. Role model the “golden rule”
  3. Get on the same page with those you are parenting with (wife, husband, partner, extended family)

We have all heard stories about children saying something bad in the middle of church or to the preacher. It is not unusual for children to overhear a word or expression from the adults in their life and repeat it at the most inopportune moments. It is also not unusual for those pointing fingers to be guilty of modeling the offensive behavior.

Rule number 1

If you don’t want your child to do what you do, don’t do it. Studies by The National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) have shown that a family history of substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes) significantly increases the chances that the children will also abuse substances (1997).  NIDA’s book, Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children and Adolescents: A Research Guide also pointed out that children with poor attachment or bonding are EVEN MORE at risk for substance abuse than children with strong attachment ties. That is not to say that having a glass of wine or a beer or drink from time to time is going to turn your adopted child into an alcoholic.  Drinking responsibly teaches your children to someday do the same.

If you don’t want your children to say what you say, don’t say it. In my house, stupid, ugly, shut up and fat were like swear words along with the truly crude language. I didn’t say them or allow them to be used. Soon enough, my kids grew up and learned all the bad words in school. As they brought home those bad words, I continued to state that those words were not allowed at home. I have a rule that states that if they must use crude language, use it with their same age peers but that it is not to be used around those who would find it offensive.

Rule number 2

Treat  your children as you would LIKE to be treated and stress with your children that they do the same. Children with poor attachment do not think about how others feel. Putting themselves in another’s shoes is not a mental task many adopted kids can do easily. By modeling the “golden rule” concept, it will help your children to learn to empathize more effectively. They may not be able to envision how another feels but they can most certainly tell you what would not feel good to them.  It is their best guide until empathy takes a firmer grasp of their brain cells.

Rule number 3

Surround yourself with friends, and relatives who support the work you are doing as a mom or dad to a child with attachment difficulties. I can’t stress this enough. When your partner does not support the attachment parenting work you are doing, it makes it so much harder to parent the child.  Get on the same page as soon as possible. Find a therapist that does attachment focused therapy and work with your partner and your family to be part of the team. You will feel more supported and your child will not have an opportunity to divide and conquer.

This last rule needs to be kept at all costs. Where the parents or adults disagree, don’t feel supported, or are openly fighting, take stock and join ranks.  This is the most critical rule of all. Children need to see their parents and family members consistently behaving in ways that are accepted as family behaviors. Children with attachment issues will spot a discrepancy between talk and behavior and will most often choose the lower road when making a choice the values you want your children to inherit replicate is the most effective way to teach them.

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