Your kids trying to be like you and mimicking your every move can be the most adorable thing. That is until you’re in the car, police sirens go off, and your two year old is throwing his hands up yelling, “oh sh*t, it’s the police.” Or when that same two year old is shocked by your action and responds slowly asking, “what the hell?!” And while some may find humor in this, I wanted to use my experience to remind mommies this month to be mindful of what you say and expose your children to. Having a potty mouth is not the only thing I have unconsciously rubbed off on Aiden. He has also threatened to “whoop my butt” for saying things like “shut up,” and has even started telling me, at two years old, what he doesn’t care about. Of course his every action is not necessarily something that he got from me or even his dad. However, seeing that parents are the closest and most influential for their children, I think it is important to remember they are watching and learning from us on a daily basis.
When I first noticed his sponge like behavior it was during moments of him saying things like, “are you kidding me?!” or “I’m dead,” to insinuate that he thought something was funny. This did not cause me to be more mindful because I was trying to convince myself of him being too young to start reallytesting the waters. It was not until he started doing things like telling me to lay down before I get in trouble or telling me what “gets on his nerves,” that I paused and realized that I should start taking what he’s exposed to just a tad bit more serious. He has slowly but surely fell into his phase of repeating everything he sees. He is learning independence and in that process, both appropriate and not so appropriate behaviors are being copied as he finds his way into who he’s going to be.
I did not believe that at two he’d start wanting to brush his own teeth, wash his own face, put on his own clothes, and at least attempt to make his own bed. Let alone, would know how to use cuss words in the correct context or repeat stories with extreme detail. I truly thought that I had a couple more years, which I’d assume many parents make the mistake of thinking. And sure, I have always been told “they are watching” or that “kids are sponges,” but it’s not something that resonates when you’re going through the motions of day to day living.
They are not too young to understand and on the other hand, it’s not fair to punish them for things that YOU are teaching them, whether unconsciously or consciously. My experience these last couple months have made me think about how I always hear parents say things like kids are being “too grown,” or punishing their kids for behaviors that they have only learned from adults. I want to challenge parents to instead start thinking about and looking at their behaviors and where they are learning them. It may be time for you to take the exposure more serious. From yourself, the people you allow around your child, as well as what you’re allowing the media to expose to them. It is great when Aiden’s asking to wear my glasses to read, when he’s asking if I’m ok when distressed, and telling me “it’s ok” when I apologize. But, as parents it is important to remember that those cute things are not the only things that they are soaking in.