Our Children’s Behavior is a Reflection of Our Own

Published by This Indulgent Life on

Children are like a mirror. They help you see yourself and all the flaws that you and your partner might have avoided looking at earlier. - Virginia Clinton Kelley | Children Imitate their parents | This Indulgent Life

I was recently reading one of my mommy blogger friend’s posts “Pass It On” by XOCHITL NONANTZIN and it really resonated with me and so felt I should share it with you here. It’s a simple little concept she’s reflecting on, that our children imitate their parents but she hits so many amazing points, all things I’ve been thinking about myself lately…


children imitate parents | Children mimic your behavior | Parenting Lessons | This Indulgent Life

Here are my 3 main takeaways from her post:

1. Stop Stressing about being the “perfect” parent, there’s no such thing, follow your instincts instead.

      I spoke about this briefly in my post a couple of months ago- “The Best Parenting Advice I’ve Ever Been Given”  but I think this is something that parents, especially moms, need to hear over and over again. In her post she recounts how with each child that came along her ability to be “perfect” decreased until she finally was just herself. By just doing what came naturally to her, what was even easiest and good for her, ended up being what was best for the whole family. And from the way it sounds it also created the best memories, free of excess stress, and filled with little moments that her and her children will treasure forever.

2. Our children’s actions are often a direct reflection on our own. Children imitate their parents’ behavior.

     Before you yell at me that our children are responsible for their own actions and not to put so much pressure on parents, please know that’s not my goal. However, we all know that children are little sponges. There’s even a joke that the says the two types of people you can count on to tell the truth are drunks and kids, especially young kids!

      While eventually our children will have to be responsible for what they do, we can’t expect them to act with calm patience or be problem solvers if we don’t exhibit those same qualities ourselves. This is the concept that I’ve been battling with myself lately. My husband and I don’t have the best background when it comes expressing our feelings in a productive way and “Hubby” also suffers from anxiety and OCD which can lead to explosive moments.

     It distresses me to no end to know my son sees this. If my husband and I can’t control our own tempers how on earth can I expect him to ever control his? If his father slams doors and objects, literally throwing dishes in the sink or toys at the floor, then how can I expect him to not do the same? In fact, how can we even be mad at him for it? If I can’t stop bottling my emotions in until I explode, if I can’t show his father some grace instead of nagging him, then how can I expect him to not do the same? How can I expect him to even respect us if we can’t respect ourselves or each other?

               As Virginia Clinton Kelley said,

     “Children are like a mirror. They help you see yourself and all the flaws that you and your partner might have avoided looking at earlier.”

3. If we want our children to try something new, we need to be willing to lead by example. Kids follow our example.

    So many of us say we want our children to be inquisitive or independent. We want them to not be afraid to try new things, especially food. We want, we want, we want…. This isn’t a bad thing, I mean we only want the best for our kids. We want them to not have our own failings or struggles. But the problem is children imitate their parents. If you want your children to be more open to trying new things, then you need to be more open too.

    children imitate parents | Children mimic your behavior | Parenting Lessons | This Indulgent Life

    Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

    Steps to take to help you fix your own behavior that your child is imitating:

    So while I know we can never be perfect, and luckily as parents we get many re-dos, we need to look to our own behaviors when we see problems with our children’s. If we do have an issue with our own behaviors or attitudes then we need to take the following actions.

    Give ourselves some grace.

         No point in having a pity-party or degrading ourselves. It happened, we need to resolve to do better and move on.

    Apologize to our kids, and maybe even our spouse.

          “I’m sorry I haven’t been the best example of _____ lately. Instead of ____ I should have done ____ .” This shows your child that it’s ok to make mistakes, how to own up to those mistakes, and how to reflect on them and make improvements.

    Have a reset word.

          Actually stop yourself and have a “reset” word or action when you catch yourself making the same mistake again. You WILL make mistakes, at least for a while, you’re essentially rewiring your brain, creating new habits, and that takes on average 66 days! That’s way more than the 21 we were led to believe! So give yourself some grace and a reset button to help you through the transition.


          Finally, empathize with the emotions your child is experiencing when having these “negative behaviors”. Then give them the tools they need to work through those emotions more appropriately. This may require you to do a little research yourself if you’re like my husband and I and don’t know how to deal with these emotions properly.


    eating healthy | children imitate parents | Children mimic your behavior | Parenting Lessons | This Indulgent Life 

    Tips to make your child imitating your behavior a positive:

    •  Fake it till you make it!

      • If you absolutely hate broccoli but you really want your child to eat it, then you’re going to have to suck it up and at least show that you’re willing to eat one piece too. If you’re scared to death of snakes, but you don’t want your child to have that fear, then go to a reptile show and conquer that fear!
    • Be open and honest.

      • Fear itself isn’t bad, everyone is scared of something. It’s how you deal with your fears that will matter to your children. So model how you are doing that. Say, “I’m really afraid of snakes, but it’s because I don’t know enough about them, so I’m going to learn about them and learn how snakes can help the environment to help me with my fears”.
    • Model trying new foods or activities.

      • “I’ve never tried yak cheese before. I wonder what it would taste like? Let’s order the fried yak cheese as our appetizer this time!” (Yes this is a real example! It turns out it’s really good!).

    The more you model it, the more you push yourself out of your own comfort zone, the more your child will catch on. Just remember it won’t be an overnight thing, especially if they’re older.

    Throughout all of this though, remember her first point, none of us will ever be perfect. So while it’s always good to try to improve yourself and your relationships with your kids, don’t forget to enjoy them too!

    What have you found your children imitate? How have you used it to be a positive instead of a negative? Let me know in the comments!

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    Samantha · May 21, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    This definitely opened my mind up to something I had never even thought of before. I’m going to start showing a lot more patience around my kids.

      This Indulgent Life · May 22, 2018 at 3:00 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful! Patience is one of the things I pray over my child at night, but that I personally struggle with, especially with older kids and adults. So I too need to be more mindful in that area.

        Lynn · July 9, 2020 at 1:23 pm

        Patience doesn’t come quickly or easily! And, as parents we need to cultivate that virtue every day of our lives! Our need for patience only increases as our children grow, especially once they reach their teen years and adulthood. It’s interesting to note that the root of the word patience (from Latin) means ‘to suffer!’

    Jessie · May 22, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Some really practical advice here! Very helpful and certainly some things I will be looking to implement myself! THANK YOU for such a helpful post!

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