Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli of ‘Jungle Book’ is a very good illustration of the impact of environment on children. Even though Mowgli is a human child, he easily and naturally learns the ways and norms of the jungle and the animals living in it, because he happens to grow with them. Environment plays a big role in shaping the personality and outlook of the child when he grows up. When we talk of environment, for children the most important environment is their immediate environment of their family. And in the family, parents play the major role in shaping the child’s mentality.
As the child grows from an infant to a toddler she/he begins learning by imitating the parents. Children are very sharp observers and they pick up behavioral traits fast. So parents being the first and most important role model for the children, the major responsibility of teaching the child to be a responsible person is on the parents.
In most homes the child sees that whenever parents are free, TV is their means of relaxation. Naturally when the children have vacation or they are done with their studies, they switch on the TV as a pastime, which becomes additive over time. Most parents complain about the excess TV watching habit of the children, without realizing the fact that children learn from parents. Hobbies play a major role in weaning the child away from TV and video games. When children see their parents reading, writing, gardening, painting, playing some musical instrument or outdoor games or socializing during their free time, they unconsciously get attracted to such activities. Children need a real role model. Mere preaching and ordering them to switch off the TV and do something else does not help. They are clueless about what to do after switching off the TV.
Children do what their parents do. So parents in turn have to do themselves what they want their children to do.
There are several small things which kids pick from their parents. When going in some vehicle, adults easily throw wrappers or other wastes out on the road. Children obviously learn this to be a acceptable behavior. It does not help to teach them to keep their surroundings clean through moral science books in school, when in practical life they see adults throwing waste on road or empty plots. The habit of using dustbins wherever you are is a small gesture kids learn from parents.
Having a garden and lovingly tending to plants at home will automatically develop love for plants in the child. They will enjoy planting trees and feel hurt when a plant is hurt. Concern for the environment thus begins at home.
Same is true with all good habits like polite language, reading habit, following civic rules, driving cautiously, daily exercise, taking meals on time and on the dining table (not while watching TV) etc. Children of polite parents are always polite and children of punctual parents are always punctual. The morals they learn practically at home is more effective and deep rooted than the ones that their school teacher tells them or they read in the moral science books. So as parents we need to analyze and polish our own manners and morals before teaching them to our innocent little copy cats!