Teaching Behavior?

Do you think it is possible to teach kids how to behave properly? Kind of “Don’t do this and please do that”. I believe this is not possible. This is at least my experience.

For example I am trying for several months now to replace the plain “what?!” by a more polite “pardon?” in case one of my kids didn’t understand something properly. After this long time I still hear the “what?!”. The only recognizable behavior change has been the following “pardon?” after raising one of my eyebrows. I can’t count how many times I told them to use the more polite form. Teaching this by telling simply does not work. And this is just an example, but there are many more.

Okay, of course I tried some more things. Attempted extortion, “If I hear the ‘what’ only once today, I’ll cut the power cable of the TV” … know what, didn’t work at all. Another try has been bribe, “If you don’t use the ‘what’ today, I’ll give you this yummy bar of chocolate”. Guess what, didn’t work at all either.

But how to convince a kid to change that behavior? The most promising way I have found is exemplifying the desired behavior through my own life. I have realized that the behavior of my kids is much more influenced by my own behavior rather what I am telling about behavior. As long as I use the ‘what?!’ at times instead the ‘pardon’, I’ll never change the ‘what?!’ of my kids. I just need to behave the way I want my kids to behave. They will adopt this behavior over time. It’s so easy. Raising my kids starts with changing my behavior first. And know what, this turns me into a better human too … amazing, isn’t it?