Children see, Children Do


This video illustrates what our future may look like, depending on the examples we set to others.

Children learn by example, and so do adults.

This knowledge is true power, but have we been using it for good or bad?

“Children learn by trying to do something, by failing, and by being told about or by copying some new behavior that has better results. This perspective is founded on the simple but central insight that children are trying to do something rather than to know something. In other words, they are learning by doing.” – Dr. Roger Schank, from Engines for Education

Influence of our role models on behavior is something of particular interest to psychologists. More specifically, let's look at the research conducted by Bandura and his work into Social Learning Theory (SLT) in the imitation of aggression.

Children imitate behavior that they see around them: talking on a phone, body language … smoking, violence, so make sure that you’re setting a good example. There’s plenty of psychology behind this and it can be related to ‘aadai’(stubbornness).

SLT simply states that a person will imitate the behavior of a role model, and this behavior will continue if they receive positive reinforcement of that behavior.

Applying this to aadai(stubbornness), we can ignore all of the more complex arguments that would have us believe that criminality is down to biology, genes, neurotransmitters or such else – it’s simply a learned behavior, imitated from role models. When a person sees a role model performing a behavior and then receives positive feedback this is remembered. If that person has the chance to imitate this behavior they will. If they then get positive reinforcement for this imitation then the chance of them repeating this behavior is increased.

Through the above experiment, we can boldly state that we all have learnt our behaviors from our role models. Normally, a child sees his parents and teachers as their role models. So, if we want a behavioral change in children, let's change ourselves. As Dadashri has said... "Maa mulo, baap gajar, chhokrao safarjan kya thi thay?"(If the mother is a radish and the father is a carrot how can the children be apples?)

Also, let's refer to this conversation with Dadashri...

A religious personality projects religion; the son imitates his father and learns from that!

Questioner : When children grow up, how are we to instill our religious values in them?

Dadashri : Children will learn whatever they see in you. So if you become religious, they will too. They learn from watching you. If you smoke, they will do the same. If you drink alcohol or eat meat, they will too. Whatever you do, they will imitate. They want to imitate and even go beyond their parents’ deeds. What does a son wish for?

Questioner : That I should be better than my father!

Dadashri : Yes, if I try to surpass my father it would be challenging! Thus he would surpass the father in drinking alcohol as well as in eating meat; so he would imitate the father in every way. You wish to instill good values in your children don’t you? Do you eat meat? Do you have intoxicating drinks as well?

Questioner : No

Dadashri : Then you need not worry. Your son will not go astray. You should only tell him; “Son, you should surpass me in everything that I am doing.’  So your son will observe and imitate you. He will see that you don’t drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes and that, he will learn, but the son of a father who drinks alcohol cannot stop his son from drinking. He may be unsuccessful. Although he is not allowed to try it, his son will believe that it is a tasty drink since his father is drinking it. He asks himself, that if his father is enjoying it, why is he denied it? So he ought to have it! Thus he decides to have it anyway. Therefore we must display noble values. How can we behave in a primitive manner?

So, if aadai is learnt from observing, saralta can also be learnt from observing. What we can do is be in the company of saral (compliant) people... Saints or our Gnani Purush.