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Instruction Manual for Kids: Monkey Hear, Monkey Say

A blog post heading like this immediately makes our minds rush to those innocent conversation topics our kids blurt out that were supposed to remain in the confines of our homes – our kids didn’t get the memo.  The indiscretions of a mini yapper can at times be a bit unnerving, but rest assured it is actually a healthy sign.  As with anything, a child must be trained how to appropriately discern the difference between ‘family secret’ and ‘public domain’ – but when your child begins to repeat your words and conversation topics, they are merely employing what I call ‘the mimic’.

When I introduced you to the concept of ‘the mimic’ I addressed the idea of being careful of how you act, because your children will copy you.  We are all well aware (hopefully) that we need to choose our language cautiously, and pay careful attention when there are little ears present.  Since most of us learned that the hard way, I am not going to head in that direction.  Instead I want to continue on the idea of intentionally utilizing this mimic to train our children.

The things that fill up our hearts (our values, interests, concerns) are the things which we will naturally speak about.  It was funny this past election cycle here in the USA, our children would repeat the political rants Kelsi and I would have at the dinner table.  Mannerisms and all.  There is nothing cuter than a couple of girls with pig tales, sitting on the floor in their jammies griping over foreign policy and how it will effect the war in the Middle East!… Kelsi and I are very opinionated, and love geopolitics…and our kids do too!

This ‘mimic’ carries into all walks of life.  If your family is into sports, then your kids will naturally like the teams and players you talk about and rattle off the same stats you do.  I’m willing to bet your kids initially liked the same music, books, and even cars as you (I’m a classic VW guy, and that’s because my dad instilled that value into me).

There is a huge cultural shift that we are all privy to, and that is how rarely we converse as a family unit.  Television, internet, iPods, etc. (you know what I’ m getting at; that’s why you are a CheekyBums Fanraising vintage kids).  As parents we must make a conscious effort to communicate to our spouses and our children.  Even when we aren’t formally teaching them a lesson, by the sheer fact that our words reveal our hearts, we are instilling our values into our kids.  The things we choose to talk about when there is nothing to talk about shapes our family.  If you tell jokes to pass the time, then you are stirring humor.  If you complain about everything, then you are growing complainy kids. If you talk gardening, then your kids learn horticulture…you get the idea.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it a thousand times ‘You are the instruction manual you wish your child came with.’  Our children look to us to model how to act and respond to life.  When the hard things in life happen, there’s a tragedy, maybe a death in the family; our children look to us on how to respond.  If we respond with fear, anger, rage, or uncontrollable sorrow then our children will act that way too (that’s what they think the appropriate response is).  If we respond with peace, then our children will mimic.  If we avoid and hide behind the computer or television, then we’ve left our children to navigate their emotions on their own.

I am a huge fan of having a family dinner.  No radio. No television. No reading through the mail.  Everyone at the table, and we talk.  I ask my kids a zillion questions.  I let them show off the newly acquired knowledge they learned in home school.  It not only keeps the lines of communication open and shows them that I care, but even by the topics of the questions I ask them I am building their understanding of what I value.

Monkey hear, Monkey say isn’t something to fear.  It’s a powerful concept that reinforces my family’s values, and teaches my kids what is in my heart.

What are some things you do as a family to build and reinforce your family’s values?


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This post was linked to Seasonal Celebrations at Natural Motherhood, Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, The Welcome Home Link-up at Raising Arrows, WLWW at Women Living Well,

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