Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: Proper modeling for children

In our sophisticated society today it is vitally important that children have appropriate role models to follow so they understand what proper behavior is in different situations. Proper behavior needs to be taught in a similar way we learn any new skill. If we don’t take the time to teach proper behavior to our children we leave it up to them to decide how to behave in different situations. Most often children learn how to behave by watching the adults they are often around. Hopefully these adults provide the kind of modeling we would be proud to have our children adopt.

A recent country music song by Rodney Atkins illustrates my point about behavior best. In the song, Atkins just buys his 4-year-old son a Happy Meal and as they are driving away from McDonald’s, Rodney needs to hit the brakes to avoid running a red light. The son does not anticipate the sudden stop and his fries and his orange drink end up spilling in his lap. The lyrics in the song go on like this – “My son said a word that started with ‘S’ and I was concerned so I said ‘Where did you learn to talk like that?’ My son said ‘I’ve been watching you, dad ain’t that cool, I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you. I want to do everything that you do.’

Most young boys and girls admire their mother and father and certainly want to be like them. So they watch and learn from their parents how to behave in certain circumstances. At a young age whatever mom and dad do they want to imitate regardless whether the behavior is appropriate or not. The modeling that you provide for your sons and daughters will have a huge influence on the personality and behavioral traits they will display as a teenager and into their adult life.

The reason I chose this topic for my article this month is because we are in the final weeks for many of our winter activities. Soon many of our athletic teams will be playing in the regional and hopefully the state tournament.  Unfortunately, it is at this time of year when athletic competition among teams is greatest and where some adults lose control over their behavior. We can only hope our young children are not watching many of us at these times.

To illustrate my point I will provide some examples that will be occurring in the near future where our behavior may become a concern. The first example is what kind of behavior will we display during high school basketball, hockey, swimming or wrestling contests when a high school student commits a turnover, misses a layup or an official makes what we view as a bad call? Do we realize these are high school students who are trying their best and certainly wouldn’t purposely make a mistake? Do we understand that officials are an important part of the game and at times may make a bad call not on purpose but simply make the call the way they saw it? Or do we jump out of our seats and yell at the player or at the official in a derogatory manner, embarrassing ourselves as well as the team and the community we represent?

In the WDA tournaments there will be four teams usually of out of nine that advance to the state tournament. How would we respond when a game is over and our team has lost and failed to make the state tournament? Do we congratulate the other team members on their victory, give our team members a pat on the back to show our appreciation for their efforts throughout the year, and let our coaches and advisors know that we appreciated their efforts? Or do we make excuses for our loss and fail to recognize our team members and coaches who have spent many hours throughout the season practicing so they can provide us with good entertainment?

What will our behavior be like if one of our teams is fortunate enough to win a state tournament? Will we come to the celebration immediately after the tournament is over to recognize the accomplishment of our team members, coaches and school? Will we recognize that this celebration is for students and a school team and understand that alcohol and tobacco are not allowed? Or will we walk in carrying an alcoholic beverage and think that it is appropriate?

In all of the examples above we will have the opportunity to provide our sons and daughters, as well as all young children, with what is considered to be appropriate behavior in the given circumstance. Will we provide the kind of example that we would want our children to display when they encounter a similar situation?

I am hopeful we all realize the young people in our community are watching us and expect us to behave appropriately. As they watch they will also be trying to determine the kind of behavior they will be allowed to exhibit as they grow older. Proper behavior at athletic events would be a good gift that we can all provide for the young people in our community.