My daughter (who just turned three) is well aware that getting hit in the face with a ball isn’t equivalent to a good time. So why was she so excited by a ball bouncing down the stairs and smacking her straight in the kisser? Why did she then get frustrated when she couldn’t replicate that exact bounce and bonk?
A ball in the face is generally a scenario that would lead to this series of events:
-Wide eyes, almost welling up with tears
-Curling up into a ball, looking away trying to pretend it didn’t hurt
-Bawling on my shoulder because once she realises that it DID indeed hurt, Dad is a safe place to cry
-Changing activities or altering the current one to not get smacked with another bouncy sphere
The simple answer is that we had been watching Champions League soccer and the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper saved a shot with his face. Of course I was excited having been a goalkeeper in the past and felt that I had to replay the save multiple times. My excitement was palpable because that just doesn’t happen all the time and the goalkeeper bounced right back up, no ill will, no lasting injury. I didn’t think much of it. So my kid must have thought it was neat. She wanted to play just like the “green guy on TV,” which is how she recognizes goalkeepers because of their often green jerseys.
Kids mimic us. They watch more closely than parents ever seem to count on. How many times has a parent (maybe you reading this) said inward out aloud “where did they pick that up?” Wanting to have her own ball hit her in the face again was directly reflective of my excitement at it happening on TV… While my beloved team lost… The actual negative in this story.
So how does that anecdote end up on a Health and Wellness website? As I said, kids mimic adults. They learn habits and behaviours from their parents. Good or bad, healthy or not. There is a line in a song that I grew up listening to which I will not quote because it uses language that I choose not to spread at this point in my life. But the gist of the entire song is that trauma gets passed down through generations and it can be a very hard cycle to put an end to.
In my experience discussing children’s nutrition or activity levels with my clients, recognizing that the parent has a set of habits and behaviours that developed from their own childhood influences is step one. This is the generational trauma that the song was speaking of. It’s not just you influencing your kids. But it has to be you to end that influence – step two.
Do not at all think that your child is the one that needs to change. They are mimicking you. If I had reacted in horror to a face-save, I highly doubt my daughter would have had so much fun in the aforementioned scenario. If my wife and I didn’t drink water multiple times a day, I would imagine I would never hear the little voices in our house say “can I have some water, please?” And on the less healthy side, if Grandpa didn’t love buying Timbits for the grandkids so much, they would likely not state that as the main reason for us going to the golf course. But hey, if a couple of timbits gets them walking the course with me, there are probably worse things in life.