Our Kids Are Watching: Lessons We Parents Unintentionally Teach

“You look exactly like your Dad!” “You are your Mom’s mini-me!”

We heard well-meaning family and friends say either of these to our little girl and trust me when I say my husband and I don’t always see the resemblance. But when she was around three months, our daughter started to do things my husband usually does.

Then, it hit us: our daughter “looking like us” is not just about genetics. A significant part of it is understanding that she is in the front seat watching us carry ourselves, and handle our marriage and family life, mirroring everything she can possibly mirror.

We’ve seen a viral video on Tiktok that explains exactly this. Watch it below.

Our Kids Are Watching: Lessons We Parents Unintentionally Teach

Now we stop and reflect: What does this video present to us parents? Here’s what we think.

Our description of other people builds our kids' image of them.
Our words are invisible pixels that build our children’s image of the people we talk about – our spouse, family, friends, and neighbors. These words have the power to build the trust and confidence our kids have in them, or they will break down the trust we so carefully built over time. It’s always best to really think about the words we will use to talk about the people around us.

Our relationship with others teaches our kids how to handle theirs.
Our words may be harmless, but our tone and facial expressions – things our kids hear and see – will reveal how we truly feel about others. Do we always speak in a way that suggests judgment, superiority, or indifference? The high-pitched tone, the raised eyebrow, the hands on hips – all these become ingrained in our kids’ system. We always have the choice to turn things around and involve others in more respectful, calmer, and healthier interactions and conversations.

Our spur-of-the-moment reactions become our kids' default.
It’s difficult to keep calm when we’re in conflict with anyone, we’re in shock, or we’re in pain. Then again, it’s much more difficult to erase how intensely we reacted in the minds of our children. When our kids have a first-hand experience of seeing us explode repeatedly, it will inevitably be their default response, too. With a calm and level-headed response to negative or sudden situations, we teach our kids how to properly manage their emotions.

Our beliefs shape our kids' worldviews.
Do we believe in tooth fairies and Santa Claus? Do we believe that money grows on trees? Is it bad to get tattoos? Whether we like it or not, our kids’ world is shaped by what we say and do, even on seemingly trivial matters. While it’s never a call for us to be perfect parents, it’s not bad to commit to being more intentional about what we allow our kids to see and hear. Even when we think they aren’t paying attention, they watch, observe, imitate, and echo, making them more like us than we know.

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