You can say to your child, "We need to be kind to everyone";
But when their wide, curious eyes watch you yell at customer service over the phone, you're really saying:
"Be kind when you're given what you want"
You can preach that, "We should never judge anyone"
But your child will notice that you clutch your purse tighter and veer far away from the homeless man with a difference skin color. You're communicating:
"Never judge people that look like you"
You can reassure your son or daughter that, "You're beautiful just the way you are"
But when their ears take in you talking to your friend about how you hate your stomach and need a tummy tuck, what they hear is:
"Beauty can be attained if I work at it"
Parents aren't perfect and should never be held to that standard. So if these small things have such an impact on our children, what do we do? We show them we aren't perfect. We point out our mistakes and what we should have done differently.
We say, "Did you hear how I talked to that person on the phone? I lost my patience and I should have been nicer to them. Next time i'm going to take a deep breath"
"Did you see that homeless man? He's probably had a harder day than us. Lets go back and give him a sandwich"
"Did you hear me saying mean stuff about my body? That't not right, we have to be nice to ourselves too. Lets pick out three things we like about ourselves"
And you may think at this point if you have to go back you've already messed up, but that's not the case. What better message to teach your children than self reflection? Show them its hard to do the right thing and we all mess up. When you show them you're human too, they will trust you more to communicate their own mistakes. You're teaching the mentality of "Okay I messed up, now what?"