by Anthony Kane, MD
"How old are you?" the educator inquired.
"You should begin twenty-three years ago."
What is the message? The single most important thing a parent can do to educate a child is to provide the child with a good role model. A parent has to work a whole lifetime becoming the type of person that he wants his child to become.
The most important people in the world in the child's eyes are his parents. They are his first and most important teachers. The behavior of a child's parents leaves a permanent impression in the child's subconscious mind.
Why is this so? The reason is that the most reliable source of priorities and values in a child's eyes is his parents. Children have an innate trust in their parents. They feel that everything their parents say and do is the true and proper way to behave.
We all wish our children would do what we say and not what we do. However, this is not how the mind of a child works. The intellect of a child is undeveloped. As a result, children function an emotional level, absorbing more from what they see and hear around them than from what they are taught.
What is the take home message? The main thing for you to realize is that you have far more influence on your child than you probably realize. Your child is going to pattern himself after you. That is how nature set it up. Your job as a parent is to be the best role model that you can be. True, it is hard, but that is the way it is.
The following is a story I heard recently that brings out the extent to which your child learns from your actions.
A certain kindergarten teacher once warned a group of parents to be careful how they behave in front of their children.
"By the way your children play in school," she said. "I know which of you treat each other respectfully. I know which of you use foul language at home. I know everything about how you behave in your home by the way your child plays, talks, and behaves."
Remember, you might think that everything that goes on in your home behind closed doors is hidden from the world, but it is not. Your child sees everything. Your child is going to take your behavior and broadcast it to the world. Make sure that what he is transmitting is something that you want the world to see.
Anthony Kane, MD is a physician, an international lecturer, and director of special education. He is the author of a book, numerous articles, and a number of online courses dealing with ADHD, ODD, parenting issues, and education. You may visit his website, http://addadhdadvances.com or sign up for the ADD ADHD Advances online journal by sending an email to: