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Parenting School: Teaching by example—“Implicit Teaching”

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

It is every teacher and parent’s wish for children to grow up healthy and happy. Tasked with the responsibility of preparing children for the world, parents always do their best to provide for their children, in hopes that they can enjoy the best food, accommodation, and learning environment. But when children are always coddled and want for nothing, would they have adequate self-sufficiency, social skills, collaboration skills, resilience, concentration, and endurance for the challenges ahead?

Can you fix stubbornness later in life?

As society progresses, to help children accomplish a bright future, education needs to not only keep up with the times, but go ahead of time, so students can apply what they learnt in life. Education is of utmost importance, but it is not only the responsibility of the school. Both the family and the school are cradles that nurture children as they grow up.

Many studies have pointed out that children are born with the ability to learn. Even without explicit teaching or demonstration from adults, infants can utilize the senses they are born with to explore and absorb information from their surrounding environment, and gradually learn to interact with the environment. We often hear parents complaining that their children are stubborn and indocile. Is it possible to alter a child’s personality through parenting? In this issue, I would like to discuss "Implicit Teaching" with you using practical examples. We will talk about how to make good use of the overlooked details in life to educate your children, and how to prepare children for their education early on with a good upbringing.

Children love observing and imitating

Children are naturally very sensitive. It is easy for them to notice people and happenings around them, and while they are not yet fully developed, children’s innate survival instinct drives them to interact with the environment around them. Every child has their own unique personality and learning style, and develop at different rates. However, most children like to imitate the words and actions of adults, such as their eating habits and hobbies. The doll corner at school is the best place to test this out. Teachers often hear and see children acting out the different people in a family: a three-year-old child whose father likes race cars can distinguish and describe different car models and their features; a two-year-old child imitates adults texting by moving their finger on a rectangular book; the most memorable scene was when a three-year-old child saw a butterfly outside the window and repeatedly pinches his fingers in an imitation of adults zooming in on an object on a tactile screen. These are great examples of the power of “Teaching by Example”, and if parents make good use of their children's observation skills, teaching by example will become the most effective "Implicit Teaching".

Correcting behavior in daily life

A number of years ago, there was a two-year-old toddler who always pushed his peers with his hands. I talked to his parents and found out that the father was very busy with work and could seldom spend time with his son, but the child saw his father doing wall pushups to train his arm strength, and imitated him without understanding why. When the father realized that his son's behavior posed a threat and may cause harm to other people, he taught his child to exercise with him at home, and the child never pushed the other children again. From this example, we can see that parent-child communication and cooperation are also very important. By looking at the reasons behind a child's behavior, we can find the right solution and encourage children to learn positively from details in life.

The upbringing of a child concerns the entire family

The upbringing of a child concerns the entire family. Should we be strict or lenient when parenting? Many examples show that both being too lenient and too strict may be harmful to children. You may find it challenging to grasp the perfect middle ground. When should we be lenient? When should we be strict? When raising a child, we should not only focus on one person’s words, behavior, and attitude. Different members of the family have different personalities, strengths, and shortcomings, and children would learn from every one of them. While children do not understand strengths and shortcomings yet, they can feel and recognize the different attitudes, habits, tones, and words of the people around them (i.e. “gauging people’s moods”, as the saying goes). By doing this, they will learn what attitude to have when interacting with different people. The support of family is what determines whether you can raise children’s ability to defend and protect themselves, and to face different challenges.

Cultivate adaptability through daily life

Since infants have not yet developed verbal communication skills, having a regular and organized lifestyle can both give them a sense of security and make it easier for caregivers to notice any problems with their physical health. However, as children grow up, their lives cannot remain changeless forever. So how can parents help their children cope with change? Having a routine can facilitate healthy physical development, but it is not necessary to only have one single caregiver. In fact, relying too much on one caregiver in the family is not good for either the adults or the infant. Caregiving duties should be shared among family members so that the child does not completely rely on one single person. This way, the toddler can learn to interact with different people through their voices, tones, and facial expressions, and learn to live in a social group through the different roles in a family. Children will learn the way to interact with people from their families, and this will become their way of life in the future.

Learning to care by interacting with family

A lot of times, family members have different views on raising children. They may have opposing views, and end up complaining about and criticizing each other. However, this is not necessary. I would like to recommend a storybook to you--"A Remarkable Family", published by Prettysmart Cultural & Creative Co., LTD. This book is suitable for children, and is also great for reading together as a family. The book shows that while family members all have different characteristics, personalities, and shortcomings, they all care for each other. One time when I was inspecting classes, I saw three children writing in the language corner. One of them was working on Emerging writing, and was trying to write down what he was thinking in English. Another child directly pointed out that he made a mistake with spelling, and the third child immediately stopped the second child and said, "Saying that will make him upset!” None of the children did anything wrong, but the third child managed to save his friend from embarrassment with one simple sentence, and prevented a potential conflict. I truly appreciate this child's consideration for others' feelings. I later talked to the mother of this child, and learnt that their family is filled with love, and that family members all appreciate and care for each other, which is why they managed to raise a child who puts “Do not do unto others what you would not want done unto you" into practice.

Cultivate children’s independence, self-determination, and confidence

Lastly, I would like to talk about potty training for toddlers. Learning to go to the toilet is a milestone in a toddler's development as it shows that the child now has self-control. In the past, three-year-olds in nursery K1 could already go to the toilet by themselves, and no longer need diapers after only two months of coming to school. However, in recent years, we see that more and more children are still wearing diapers or diaper pants even after moving up to kindergarten K2. We found out that the reason for this is that parents think their children will learn to go to the toilet sooner or later anyway, so they don't bother making changes. This affects not only the children’s hygiene, but also causes them to stay in an infant’s mindset, which hinders them from learning independence, self-determination, and confidence.

Conclusion: Parents are role models for children

Every child is unique in their own way, and they all need proper nurturing from parents to fully utilize the talents they are born with. The education of children is not only about reading and writing, but also holistic learning and development. It is also not confined to classrooms, since children only spend a small portion of their time in school. Because of this, parents play the biggest role in the education of children by acting as their role models. I hope that this article can help parents raise children who are positive, cooperative, resilient, caring, respectful, independent, self-determining, and confident.

Tivoli Anglo-Chinese Kindergarten, Tivoli Nursery

Ms. Carmen Chan, Chief Principal


Remark: This article has been published in “Mombaby” Magazine, Issue 415, in March 2023


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