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Modeling Your Own Behavior to Provide a Consistent, Positive Example for Your Child

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0-3 Years

Take a look at this example of a parent being a model. As you read, think about these questions:

  • Is this parent being a positive role model?
  • Do his words and actions match?
  • Is he being honest with himself about his own actions?
  • How might you handle a similar situation with your child?

Marco and Sabby (Age 2) 1,14

What’s the Story?

Marco cares for his son Sabby on the weekends. Now that Sabby is walking and talking, Marco has to watch him more closely so that he doesn’t get into trouble. A few weekends ago, Sabby stuck a metal bookmark into an electrical outlet that Marco leaves uncovered so that he can plug in the coffee maker in the morning. Sabby blew out all the fuses in the house, but luckily was not hurt. Despite Marco’s scolding, Sabby still goes near the outlet when he gets the chance.

Marco Says:

I don’t know why he keeps doing it. I’ve told him “no”; I’ve said “bad”; I’ve told him he could get really hurt. But he still goes over to that outlet.

What's the Point?

Sabby may still show interest in the outlet because Marco’s words don’t match his actions. Marco tells Sabby, “no”; but Sabby sees Marco put the coffee maker plug into the outlet. Sabby doesn’t know the difference between the plug that’s supposed to go in the outlet and other metal objects that shouldn’t.

While Sabby is at this age, Marco needs to cover the outlet with a safety cover anytime the coffee maker is not plugged in. Then Sabby won’t have the chance to get into it. When Sabby is a little older (three or so), Marco can explain the details of safe materials, dangerous materials, and electrical outlets.

He could also tell Sabby that only grownups are allowed to touch electric outlets. It seems as though Marco is trying to get this across by saying, “no” or “bad,” but he only assumes that Sabby knows what he means. Kids, especially young children, will copy what they see even if they don’t fully understand it. Sabby’s action is a dangerous behavior that could cause him serious harm. Marco needs to take immediate action to ensure Sabby’s safety.

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Last Updated Date: 12/30/2009
Last Reviewed Date: 12/30/2009
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology