When my son was about three or four years old, I learned a valuable lesson in parenting very young children. They learn about how to behave in the world they live in most naturally by modeling themselves after the people around them. Of course they learn by direct lessons and teaching too, but what I discovered one morning as a young mother was something else.
As I cleaned up the breakfast dishes on a typical homey morning, I heard a small crashing sound and turned around to see that my son, Nathan had dropped one of his toy trucks on the floor. No big deal, right? Well immediately following the bang, I heard, in his cute little boy's voice a very big exclamation---"OH, SEEIT". Oops, I thought.
Stifling my urge to correct him (and I don't mean his enunciation for the missing "H"), I opted for observing instead and watched as he picked up the truck and went on playing as if nothing was wrong. And really nothing was wrong. He was simply practicing a behavior he saw the day before---by me. Another oops!
The day before I dropped a cup, breaking it and uttering my own adult version of "OH, SEEEEIITT!!!' My son was mimicing my action along with the words that went with it. The correction of his budding usage of "bad words" was equally simple----I never did "that" again. Rather than bringing attention to his words, I changed my behavior.
Even though the adage, "Do as I say, not as I do" was popular when I was growing up, it never quite made sense to me as an effective parenting philosophy. I discovered that it worked as a situational tool when dealing with age related developmental skills, but a far more effective practice (and simpler too) was to view myself as a role model for my son--in both words and behavior.
That's one of the things I love about farmers' markets. They're places where children get to learn by example. "Let's go to the farmer's market" becomes a series of natural lessons about food, farming, family, cooking, friends and healthy eating with fresh foods, all experienced in a supportive community environment. And because farmer's markets are fun to go to, they are an easy place for parents to model those practices to their children.
Behaviors and activities we repeat often and regularly or express with great drama and emotion are the ones that catch our childrens' attention and are the ones they pick up on most quickly. Just as quickly as my son learned "OH, SEEIT"---he forgot about it---because I changed my behavior.
"Do as I do" proves to be a stronger teaching philosophy. And this week at the Clayton Farmer's Market we are pleased to present a Children's Market Tour and Cooking Demonstration in a fun"do as I do" format. Wearing chefs hats and aprons, children will be led on a tour of the farmer's market. They'll meet the farmers and shop for produce and then be guided in making a simple dish out of market foods. This will be a special learn-by-example day at the market. ("Seeits" not included:)
This week at the Clayton Farmer's Market:
Children's Market Tour & Cooking Demo: Sign-up 9:30am Tour starts: 10:00am Presented by SLU Dietetics School, Les Dames Society, Clayton Farmer's Market
Music at Ten: Adonis Blue featuring great vocals and amazing jazz
Bethesda Barclay House Community Tent: Earthdance Farm
Information: www.claytonfarmersmarket.com 314-913-6632