Parents take note, your child is watching you - GulfToday

Parents take note, your child is watching you

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Reading Habits

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Famous author Julia Donaldson says that in today’s era of everything electronic, it is more important than ever for parents to set a good example for their children when it comes to reading books. I am sure that, upon reading this statement, many parents will assure everyone, including themselves, that they are indeed setting just such a good example. But Donaldson is referring to reading books in hard copy form rather than eBooks or books they have downloaded on their tablets or smartphones. Parents might ask what difference it makes whether they are reading a book in hard form or on a smartphone since they are, in fact, reading a book.

You see, the thing is that children are very impressionable. They copy adults. And why not? After all, isn’t that how we all learnt to speak a language or how to behave in public or towards others? It’s the same with reading. I think the point Donaldson is making is that it’s not just about what you are reading but how you are reading it.

In the days when there were no smartphones or eReaders, the only way we could read is to go to a bookshop or library and pick out an actual book with real pages. Certainly it’s very important that children learn to read but they must also acquire the habit of reading actual books on a regular basis. Once acquired in childhood that habit perpetuates in later life. Did you know, for example that Bill Gates reads at least 50 books a year? But the point here is that, since we all believe that the internet and smartphones are not always all they are cracked up to be, it is vital that children learn a hobby that doesn’t involve logging on to a website or social media network.

If you are seen by your children to be on your tablet or smartphone they will automatically assume that you are socialising and surfing the net for nothing of consequence, even if you are actually reading a useful book. It is for this reason that Donaldson advises all adults, and I agree with her, that it is important for your children not to see you on your electronic devices for long periods of time, regardless of what you may be doing. It just sends the wrong signal.

But there are other actions by adults that can also send the wrong signal to children. If you have the habit of smoking in front of them for example, there is a very high likelihood that your children will think that it’s okay to smoke and take it up themselves, and not just later in life. I realise that sometimes even if you don’t smoke in front of your children, or at all for that matter, your children may still smoke and it could be that they picked it up at school. Nevertheless, parents also have the duty to smoke responsibly.

Moreover, there is now a vaping epidemic sweeping America and more than a dozen children have died as a result of what is thought to be vaping related illnesses. These children could have picked up the cigarette smoking habit from their caretakers and, maybe, the vaping too. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if vaping is more harmful than smoking actual cigarettes since harm to lungs appears to be happening far more rapidly by the former rather than by the latter. Inhaling anything like cigarette and e-cigarette fumes and smoke is very dangerous to your health and to your children’s health.

Just as smoking may be picked up from you, your children can also pick up poor eating habits. Junk foods, sweets and sugary soft drinks are also harmful to your health and your children’s health. If parents habitually serve pizzas and burgers that they did not prepare themselves at meals, then their children will not only acquire an addiction to it but they will also grow up thinking it’s okay to eat them on a regular basis. In turn they will also serve it to their children on a regular basis. The result is potential obesity with which come a host of obesity related illnesses.

Adults also need to act appropriately in front of minors. If you go to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, you will notice how the way people communicate with each other has degraded to the level where adults ought to be ashamed of themselves. It seems that saying the ‘F’ or ‘S’ word is the norm and considered cool when trying to make a point. It is not. It is disrespectful to yourself, your children and the person to whom you are speaking. Plus it does not lend itself to a constructive dialogue. Ask yourself this. If your child saw your Twitter feed and the sort of tweets you sent out, would you be embarrassed? Moreover, if you saw that your child’s tweets were similar in language to yours, would you be happy?

At the end of the day, children learn a lot from their families. It is, therefore, so important to set a good example on how to behave towards others and how to be respectful. In most cases, you can always tell how well a child is brought up from the way he or she behaves in public.

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