We can freely say that learning is a constant process that lasts all life and is crucial for our successful functioning in everyday activities. Most of us would be surprised to understand which forms of our behaviour were learned and even greater surprise would be if we understood the way they were taught. As there are several types of learning approaches, this time, we single out one of them through which we acquire a huge repertoire of habits and patterns of behaviour. It is observational learning – the inevitable part of socialization and formation of each of us.
Simply put, observational learning is a process in which a person who learns adopts the behaviour of a model that is observing. This process is often performed without the conscious intention of a model, and the subject that acquires its habits, attitudes, behaviours. However, it doesn’t matter how we describe the model we learn from. The more important it is, the more we want to be like it.
The first most important role models for children are their parents. Sooner or later, whether they want it or not, parents begin to share that honorary place with their child’s peers, teacher, favourite teacher, a film or a book… So, wisely take advantage of the period where your child spends most of their time with you and be a good role model as much as you can! This primarily means that you need to watch your words and actions in the presence of a child – act the way you want your child to behave. Also, remember that a good role model is a consistent role. If you insist on feeding the child healthy and telling them how fruit snacks are a better choice than chips, don’t let your meal be reduced to snacks and fast food! If there is a gap between what you say to your child and how you behave, your behaviour will always have a stronger effect!
Long time ago, in 1961, a famous psychologist, Albert Bandura conducted an interesting experiment, which showed us the power of observational learning. Three groups of children observed 3 versions of a film in which a man (role model) manifested aggressive behaviour towards a puppet. In the first version of the film, the role model was punished, awarded in the second, while in the third, his behaviour did not lead either to a punishment or a reward. Children who watched the version of the film where aggressive behaviour was rewarded manifested such behaviour significantly more after the experiment in relation to the other two groups of children.
Ask yourself, if observing an unknown man in the film resulted in significant consequences, how much is a child’s behaviour affected by observing their parents?
So, dear parents, our mission is not easy. Let’s be what we want our children to become when they grow up!