They Are Watching

Whether we like it or not, kids are always watching.

As a parent, kids are always watching what we do and say. Same can be said about teachers and our daily interaction with students. This is an immense responsibility; one I have been reflecting greatly on lately in both my role as parent and teacher. I think this video, which has been around for a while now, is a great clip to get adults thinking about the impact they have on the children in their lives.

I consider myself a keen observer, or possibly an awkward stalker, of adults in the various settings I find myself in. It is no surprise when I witness kids acting in the manner in which they observe adults acting or struggling to make sense of adult behaviors.

I notice when parents are on a sideline or a bleacher yelling obscenities at other athletes, coaches or officials. I am never surprised when I see their child mimicking the same behavior. Youth sports has sadly become a place of one-up-man-ship and poor sportsmanship at a deeply troubling level. Kids observe parents in a horribly negative context and make evaluations on future actions as well as about right and wrong.

I am aware of the parents who verbally abuse their child in the stands at a swim practice and then watch that same child show verbal aggression to their peers. It is no secret, when kids are the receivers of harsh verbal attacks they are more likely to use the same tactics in their social interactions. In addition, by-standing children observe this behavior and begin to evaluate as well.

I sit and watch kids doing homework with their parents and hear the parents tell them they can’t help because they always thought [fill in subject] was stupid and hard. Then the same kid will refuse to do the work and hold a preconceived grudge in that class. I often ask parents to lie to their kids when it comes to specific subjects they might not like. Kids feed off what we tell them and if we choose to “bash” a particular academic pursuit we have given them a blank check to write it off as well.

Kids watch adults eat unhealthily or choose not to exercise. While this may seem judgmental or harsh, kids look to adults in their lives as role models and health is a big part of this. I run every single day and my sons see exercise as a valuable part of living and have taken to running with me as well. If I want my boys to be healthy, I need to model that in my life choices be it physical activity or food choices. Teachers are no different in the ways in which they influence students and their choices about health and all that entails. When a student is told they need to lose weight and make healthier decisions by an overweight adult sucking down their 3rd McDonald’s Coke of the morning, should they listen?

As adults, we have children in our lives, either our own kids or our students who look to us. Even when we don’t want them to or don’t think they are, kids are watching and listening. What are they hearing and what are they seeing? 

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