This week’s blog written by our wonderful Ambassador Clair-Louise Walsh, talks about the importance of setting an example for the children in our lives.
We are all familiar with the statement ‘setting a good example’ and the majority of us probably associate this with the usual good behaviour acts that we were taught as children. Remembering to say please and thank you, not interrupting others, keeping feet oﬀ furniture etc. etc……. and while some of these things are, no doubt, ways of showing acceptable behaviour, are there other examples that are more valuable?
Children are the masters of observation. Even when we think they are not looking at us, they are. Even when we think they are not listening to us, they are. We often hear people referring to kids as ‘sponges’ but we mistakingly visualise small bathroom sponges when we should be thinking of giant sea sponges that span the ocean ﬂoor! Children absorb everything, EVERYTHING, and this is how ‘learnt’ behaviour is created.
I wonder sometimes if we, the adults, get too caught up in teaching the children the diﬀerence between right and wrong rather that leading the way with actions that they can watch and learn from. For example, we tell children to “say sorry” when they have upset a friend or a sibling but the one thing that is more powerful that telling a child to apologise is hearing an apology from an adult when one is due. Adults behave badly sometimes, it can’t be avoided, we are human! What’s far more realistic than pretending to be perfect is to allow our imperfections to be seen and then show how to behave when those imperfections have aﬀected others. Apologising when in the wrong is a huge way of showing this.
Another example is acknowledging when children have taught us something that we didn’t know. It’s a great conﬁdence and self esteem builder for children when they hear that they have shared knowledge with adults. After all, why should they think that adults know everything when we absolutely don’t! The language that we use towards children is so important “I didn’t know that, you just taught me something new” is something I often say to the children that I teach as I know how good it is for them to feel like the little (big!) teachers that they truly are.
In my opinion, the very best example to set for children is the one in which they can observe adults behaving like humans with all the natural human traits that we possess. Vulnerability, courage, humility, kindness, sadness and love. When a child witnesses an adult taking responsibility for their actions, whether that is towards them, the child, or another adult, a lesson is learnt that plants a seed, a seed that grows and contributes to the person that child becomes.
About Clair-Louise Walsh
Clair-Louise is a trained Montessori Teacher, a registered Children’s Yoga teacher and trained in India for a 200 hour teaching certificate in Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga. For the past seven years she has lived and worked in Luxembourg offering Yoga to children, adults and families. Most recently, Clair graduated from university with a degree in ‘Drug and alcohol addiction therapy’ and now uses yoga and mindfulness in her work as a holistic therapist.
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