We all know kids get some of their physical characteristics from their own family tree, but some behavioural and emotional characteristics are also passed on from their relatives!

And kids will also add to their unique genetic makeup through learning. Both from school and from just living life, they'll add much to their understanding of the world and how they deal with it.

One of the most important places of learning for children is the family home. It's here we can teach and encourage our children to behave in ways that will make life easier and happier for everyone.  But we also need to be aware that kids can learn unintentional lessons at home.

Of obvious concern to parents are the things children learn from watching the behaviour of others. At home, parents, sisters and brothers need to monitor their own behaviour to ensure that younger children do not learn, for example, to yell at people from watching mum or big brother do the same.

If you frequently show anger and frustration in front of your kids, they might eventually learn to behave the same way. Children who shout and throw temper tantrums when frustrated with a game they are playing may have unintentionally been "taught" to do this through seeing you do it.

Sometimes we may not realise that we are rewarding children for doing things that we wouldn't want to encourage. These "accidental" rewards can stem from something as simple as a smile. For example, if you react with a laugh the first time your child says a swear word in front of you it may encourage your child to try out the word again. Alternatively, if you spend too much time reasoning with your young child in attempting to explain your disapproval of swearing you are giving them a lot of rewarding attention.

Smiles, laughs, and attention are all powerful social rewards. And like adults, kids are strongly affected by such rewards. They quickly learn that their behaviour has an effect on others, and if they see a positive effect from their actions they are likely to keep up that behaviour.

Similarly, both you and your child can also learn undesirable behaviour through what is called an "escalation trap". This can happen when a child asks for something, such as a biscuit just before dinner, is told **no but keeps on asking in a louder voice.  If the child keeps asking, getting louder and more demanding, the harassed parent may eventually give in just to get some peace.**

In this case, the child has been rewarded for being demanding and the parent has been rewarded for giving in – at least in the short term. But the rewards mean the behaviour is likely to be repeated.

The reverse case also applies. When you ask your child to do something and they resist, you will need to ask again. If you find yourself having to keep repeating the instruction, your frustration may raise the level of your voice until you eventually angrily demand that your child do as you ask by the count of three, **or else!  Your child will probably finally get the message. Unfortunately, the message that they may have learnt is that you are only serious when you yell. The result – next time your child is told to do something they might wait until you yell before reacting. And you may make an angry demand because you have learnt that that is how you can get your child's attention.**

Just being aware of how you and your child can effect each other's behaviour is a good starting point toward reducing learned misbehaviour at home. Think about the kind of behaviour you would like to see in yourself and your child and try and make sure you put that behaviour into practice.

We can't totally control the many behavioural influences that our children will come across during their growing years, but we can work hard to make sure the things they learn at home are those that we want them to learn.

Parenting Tip: Kids may learn to misbehave if they feel they have been ignored when they behave well. The attention they get when they are naughty is seen as better than getting no attention no matter what their behaviour. It is therefore important to sometimes reward children with praise and attention when they are not misbehaving.


Source: Auckland stuff.co.nz – http://tinyurl.com/y93m8cl