I guess for the onlooker who perhaps doesn’t have kids of their own it’s rather cute listening to a child endlessly asking that “Why?” one-word question, but when you have to deal with that and many other “perks” of being a parent the whole day, it can all get rather annoying very quickly. Don’t get me wrong – parents love their kids to death regardless, but by no means does that mean they can’t be a serious source of some irritation.

What this speaks to, however, is the manner in which kids learn and the inquisitiveness which drives this desire and inherent ability to learn and learn quickly.

For a very long time while I was still studying towards what I didn’t know would ultimately be a career as a social worker, I often questioned the necessity of some of the concepts we were made to learn as part of the psychology curriculum. It’s always refreshing being able to relate something which you were made to study with a real-life situation or scenario that makes you see the value of what it is you were made to study.

In this particular case what I realised was playing out right in front of my eyes is the theory we learned around how children learn, particularly with regards to their traits and character. It makes for some very interesting stuff – for one, while some genetically predisposed traits and characteristics in a child can be traced all the way back to the same traits their biological parents had, even if they don’t necessarily live with their biological parents, it is indeed more a matter of a predisposition and a likelihood to pick those traits up as opposed to inherently harbouring them outright.

If a bird was born in a cage for example and never has the space or encouragement to spread its wings, instinctively it’ll probably fly if given half the chance, but it won’t really see a need to do so, much like how parrots make for great pets which aren’t too keen on flying around or even flying away when let out the cage.

This same logic rings true if we take it back to the habits children pick up along the way, during the process of their parents trying to teach them right from wrong. Nobody’s perfect, I’ll be the first to admit, but when it comes to teaching your children right from wrong the best way really is to lead by example. This is because kids learn from their parents more through watching them and observing just how they go about what are seemingly insignificant actions and interactions with their immediate environment on a daily basis than what they learn through listening to instructions handed down to them.

Your child will do as you say in the moment only because they fear the consequences of not listening to you as the authoritative figure, otherwise, when they operate more freely it is what they observed in your actions which will shape how they conduct themselves.