Envision High

Learning from observation: Why you need to be on your best behavior around your child

“We learn from observation, imitation and repetition”- Denis Waitley.

A fun game we all used to play is Simon Says. The game is a classic example of how we observe and imitate before we listen and react. Observational learning is the earliest stage of learning in children.

In 1961, psychologist Albert Bandura designed an experiment where children were put in a room with an inflatable clown. An adult was sent in who proceeded to beat the clown up. The behavior of the children was observed and unsurprisingly, they exhibited aggressive behavior towards the clown. This is similar to a child pretending to shop, pretending to shave or wearing make up.

A child’s mind is untouched and not exposed to any stimulus. It is a sponge that absorbs everything that goes around it and develops skills based on imitation rather than thinking. It is important to be on your best behavior in the presence of your child because your child learns from you, from what you do, what you say, how you do something, what body language you exhibit and what tone you use.

The child is unable to perceive what is right and wrong but mimics any behavior, which is sometimes brushed aside as “innocence” or being “cute”. When wrong behavior is left unchecked in childhood, over a period of time, the whole concept of what is right and wrong becomes skewed. Remember, it might be cute if your three year old child says “no” and throws a tantrum, but dealing with a 10 year old who refuses to listen and screams “no” when you ask them to do their homework is hard.