16. Modeling
fr_26701a1_1XVI. MODELING
In the springtime you can see the mother birds teaching their babies how to catch worms. The baby bird is in the grass, beak wide open, fluttering its wings, acting helpless—using the old strategy for getting fed that used to work back up in the nest, but Momma bird isn't responding. She's right in front of her baby, pecking at the ground, pulling up worms and eating them, right in front of her baby. She keeps on doing this until baby bird finally copies her and pulls up a worm out of the ground for himself.

The mother bird repeats the sequence over and over, with endless patience, until the children learn. You never see a mother bird attack her offspring; you never see her punish a baby for failure to learn the lesson. When the adult animal teaches their offspring, it is done by one method only and that is by modeling over and over the desired behavior. They show them, over and over and over.

In the same way, our children learn from our behavior. It's true, they learn from others, too, but a big part of early learning is by absorption from the primary caregivers. We model for them, unconsciously or consciously, and they model themselves on us, consciously or unconsciously. This is the primary, the original, the wired-in way that little creatures learn how to live and act and be in this world. They model themselves after their parents. Their parents model for them how to do it.

You can say, "Do as I say, not as I do," but it doesn't work. You can't not do Modeling. An older child may decide not to be like a parent in this or that respect, but for every single conscious decision of that type there are a thousand unconscious acceptances.

So, as a parent, take a good look at yourself. After all, you are their model!

Modeling sometimes yields a prompt response. A small child may pick up a new behavior pattern right away. On the other hand, some modeling may take years. But even when very slow, modeling is very powerful. If the people around a child consistently demonstrate a certain way of behaving, the child will eventually tend to behave in that way. The behavior becomes ingrained as an unconscious assumption: this is just the way the world is.

1. Osmosis
2. When To Be Flexible



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