Advice: Children listen, observe and imitate


Raising well-behaved children is not a result of luck.

The way you respond to situations may be the root of your children’s behavioral issues. For example, if you yell, your children will likely yell, too. But if you are courteous and kind, your children will also behave in this way.

From experience, I can tell you that your children will do and say exactly what you do.

The first home we lived in when my husband and I moved back to the Rio Grande Valley was on Redbud in north McAllen.

One morning when my husband left for work, he saw that the brick mailbox of our neighbor across the street had been knocked down. We assumed it had been an accident, but the next morning our neighbor down the street also had his knocked down.

For a couple of months this occurred up and down our street and no one knew who was doing it.

Every time my husband saw that someone’s brick mailbox was knocked down, he would shoot out a string of Cuban expletives.

One night we had a dinner party at the house and a friend of ours asked what was going on with the mailboxes in our neighborhood.

Before my husband could respond, our oldest son who was 4 at the time responded in Spanish.

He repeated every Cuban bad word he heard his father said, and used them correctly in his sentence.

While his father and all the Cubanos in the room were proud, I was not so happy.

Modeling good behavior is the most important way to teach your children. Whoyou say and do is what teaches them how to interact with others.

To help your children practice good behavior, you need to reinforce polite requests. When they have a tantrum or ask you for things in a whiny voice, let them know you will listen when they calm down.

Good and bad behavior is learned with practice, so you need to be patient in order to redirect a behavior.

Once you recognize misbehavior, talk to your child about it before he does it again. Let your child know there will be a consequence for his behavior and be sure to follow through.

Children need limits, rules and consistency in order to learn.

You don’t have to yell or spank your children, but you do need to be a good example, and lovingly guide them every single day.

Your goal is to make your child understand how good it feels to do the right thing and how rewarding it is to get along with others.

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer and certified parent educator with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter @PowerOfFamily or on Instagram @mlsalcines. You can contact her on her blog,