There are phrases that we hear that stick with us in one way or another.
“Do as I say! Or else”.
It means that there will be consequences, usually. That the child will face punishment unless they follow directions. But then there’s also the saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Adults often see themselves as people to instruct, not to model. But when an adult does that, they ARE modeling. They are modeling how to be impatient. They are modeling how to bark orders. They are modeling how to /really/ live behind the words that they try to get a child to follow. And when I say “they”.. In all honesty, I mean me, too.
But I am trying to change. Just as I tell you, “learning does not look like doing it perfect the first time you try”. I make mistakes and I keep trying. You will make mistakes, and you will keep trying.
As I grow as a parent I am starting to see things very differently from how I used to see them. As I kid I saw adults telling kids what to do, even if they never did it themselves. So I thought that was the privilege of a grownup. I think differently now. “Do as I say” has come to mean to me that *I* must do as I say. *I* must model what it is that I am trying to teach you. I cannot tell you “say please!” when I never say it. I cannot tell you “Say good morning” to a person that I never say good morning to. I cannot tell you to use your words when I fail to use mine. I cannot tell you “I cannot read your mind. You need to work with me so that I will understand.” If I do not work with you when your understanding falls short of what I imagine it should be. I cannot ask you to help me clean while refusing to ever help you clean. I am ultimately what you copy as you learn how to be.
So now I ask myself, and I ask others in your lives this:
“Did he invent that behavior or is he copying something that he has seen?”
“Do you behave the way that you are asking him to?”
“Do the adults in this house do those things and use those words that you want to hear her say?”
And I try to do as I want you to do. I try to let them know that they are right. That is how people should behave. And I make the commitment to them and to you to try and model the behavior that they are asking from you. I also ask them to do just that. Model the behavior that they want you to copy. Be more of the person that they hope for you to be.