I swear in front of my kid. When I knock something over I say “$h1t!” and the other day I’m pretty sure I even dropped the f-bomb. At this age (4.5 months), I don’t think it’s something to be too concerned about. It will be a long while before he’s repeating what I say and it’s not like those words actually hurt anything.
It’s so easy to view a baby of this age as something like a pet. I know that sounds awful to admit, but they have so much in common at this point. They communicate with you through cries and body language, they depend on you for most of their needs and although they can interpret tone of voice, they don’t know exactly what you’re saying to them.
Well, last week I was delighted to discover that Sidd is picking up on more than I thought he could at this point. We were at our playgroup where he was confronted with a baby a few months older than him who is larger and mobile. He’s been around these kids before, but usually there are more of them so they tend to distract each other. This time it was just the two of them, Sidd and Brandon. Of course Brandon was interested, was squealing with delight, crawling towards Sidd and wanted to touch him. How scary for a four-and-a half-month-old who can only roll over in one direction and wiggle toward a toy a few inches away.
When Brandon first approached, Sidd hesitated briefly and then cried. I picked him up to comfort him and let him sit safely on my lap while he watched Brandon. Once I felt like he had gotten used to the situation. I set him back on the floor and the two attempted to interact again. This time, Sidd didn’t cry, but stared at Brandon with interest and every so often glanced up at me and scanned my face. It was an inquisitive look, clear to me that he was checking in. I would smile back to let him know everything was ok. He would return the smile and turn back to Brandon with renewed confidence.
I had heard that kids look to their parents (or anyone they trust) to learn how to react to situations, but this is the first time I had seen it play out so obviously. What this means for me is that I now have renewed motivation to deal with situations calmly and assertively. If he sees me freak out because he fell down and hurt himself, he will learn that something common and not at all life-threatening is cause for panic. I guess it also means it’s time to get a swear jar.
Have you noticed your kids mimicking your reactions? How do you keep yourself aware of how you’re coming across to your kids?