observational learning Melbourne

Have you ever used the expression “do what I say, not as I do?”

Whilst you might mean well, children cannot do this. Children learn by observing and listening to those around them. When kids learn things by watching people and imitating their behaviours, this is referred to as observational learning. 

Children do not require close contact with people for observational learning to occur. They learn from role-models all around them. For instance, this includes characters on tv, people in the grocery store, or children at school. Through observational learning, children learn about people’s moral decisions and the consequences of those choices. As a result, they may imitate these decisions in their own actions. Whether or not kids exhibit a new behaviour, they are absorbing new information that may influence their future actions, beliefs and values.

The power of observational learning

If you would like your children to develop respect, kindness, and appreciation for humans, and the environment, you must demonstrate these values as a parent. A child with parents who share roles and responsibilities at home, will always value the importance of “teamwork” in relationships. Use observational learning to your advantage.

Additionally, children should be taught to put their toys away, to set the dinner table, to dry dishes, or to help with other age-appropriate chores. You can use these family moments to initiate conversations with your kids, or use the principles of observational learning. These responsibilities teach children to be independent and understand that homemaking should be shared across all family members.

The flip side of observational learning

Conversely, children who only see their mothers cooking, washing, and doing dishes will impose gender roles on themselves. Even in households with a single parent or same-sex parents, it is important to model shared responsibility. By keeping your belongings organized and in balance, your children will learn to do the same.

Every parent has moments where they get frustrated and respond inappropriately or disrespectfully. The important thing is to catch it as much as you can, and to model an appropriate response.

Remember there is no such thing as a perfect parent

When conversing with your partner, be mindful of what you are saying and how you are saying it. Your child may be with their toys, but they are still listening to you. Abusive and hurtful language is often picked up at home. If a child observes a parent throwing things and struggling to manage their anger, they might learn to throw their toys to express rage.

If you suspect that you have done something wrong, teach your child how to rectify this. Acknowledge that we all make mistakes from time to time and may hurt people that we care about. It is important to how children how to work through these situations by modelling an apology and the repair of the relationship.

Be kind to yourself

If you struggle with empathy or regulating your own emotions, be kind to yourself.  Recognize that there is probably a good reason why you fins this difficult. Congratulate yourself for recognising this and acknowledge that it is now your responsibility to work on this.

Accepting that you struggle with your own emotions is also a good opportunity to model positive behaviours. It will help your children to understand that they are not alone and support them in learning how to deal with this appropriately.

About the author – Tulin Kocacik

Tulin is a trained counsellor and certified play therapist, who has years of experience supporting vulnerable communities. Tulin has expertise working with families presenting complex and challenging needs, including trauma, attachment and mental health concerns. With a focus on building parent capacity and enhancing parent-child relationships, Tulin integrates her clinical knowledge and professional experiences to provide a sense of belonging to families who are needing additional support. Learn more about Tulin here.

Have you ever used the expression “do what I say, not as I do?”

Whilst you might mean well, children cannot do this. Children learn by observing and listening to those around them. When kids learn things by watching people and imitating their behaviours, this is referred to as observational learning. 

Children do not require close contact with people for observational learning to occur. They learn from role-models all around them. For instance, this includes characters on tv, people in the grocery store, or children at school. Through observational learning, children learn about people’s moral decisions and the consequences of those choices. As a result, they may imitate these decisions in their own actions. Whether or not kids exhibit a new behaviour, they are absorbing new information that may influence their future actions, beliefs and values.

The power of observational learning

If you would like your children to develop respect, kindness, and appreciation for humans, and the environment, you must demonstrate these values as a parent. A child with parents who share roles and responsibilities at home, will always value the importance of “teamwork” in relationships. Use observational learning to your advantage.

Additionally, children should be taught to put their toys away, to set the dinner table, to dry dishes, or to help with other age-appropriate chores. You can use these family moments to initiate conversations with your kids, or use the principles of observational learning. These responsibilities teach children to be independent and understand that homemaking should be shared across all family members.

The flip side of observational learning

Conversely, children who only see their mothers cooking, washing, and doing dishes will impose gender roles on themselves. Even in households with a single parent or same-sex parents, it is important to model shared responsibility. By keeping your belongings organized and in balance, your children will learn to do the same.

Every parent has moments where they get frustrated and respond inappropriately or disrespectfully. The important thing is to catch it as much as you can, and to model an appropriate response.

Remember there is no such thing as a perfect parent

When conversing with your partner, be mindful of what you are saying and how you are saying it. Your child may be with their toys, but they are still listening to you. Abusive and hurtful language is often picked up at home. If a child observes a parent throwing things and struggling to manage their anger, they might learn to throw their toys to express rage.

If you suspect that you have done something wrong, teach your child how to rectify this. Acknowledge that we all make mistakes from time to time and may hurt people that we care about. It is important to how children how to work through these situations by modelling an apology and the repair of the relationship.

Be kind to yourself

If you struggle with empathy or regulating your own emotions, be kind to yourself.  Recognize that there is probably a good reason why you fins this difficult. Congratulate yourself for recognising this and acknowledge that it is now your responsibility to work on this.

Accepting that you struggle with your own emotions is also a good opportunity to model positive behaviours. It will help your children to understand that they are not alone and support them in learning how to deal with this appropriately.

About the author – Tulin Kocacik

Tulin is a trained counsellor and certified play therapist, who has years of experience supporting vulnerable communities. Tulin has expertise working with families presenting complex and challenging needs, including trauma, attachment and mental health concerns. With a focus on building parent capacity and enhancing parent-child relationships, Tulin integrates her clinical knowledge and professional experiences to provide a sense of belonging to families who are needing additional support. Learn more about Tulin here.

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