One of the keys to effective parenting is to know the difference between implicit and explicit modeling and how you do both each day. The fact is that parents are the first teachers. Parents are always modeling how to behave.
Effective Parenting is All About Modeling
Modeling is accomplished two ways. The first way is EXPLICITLY. The second way is IMPLICITLY. Here is the difference:
Explicit modeling is directed by what you actually say and do, as in always saying “thank you” and urging the young person to do the same.
Implicit modeling is indirect and learned without intentions.
The following examples from the book Parenting Without Stress demonstrate the difference between explicit and implicit modeling.
- Tickets for a movie theater are more expensive for a thirteen-year-old than for a twelve-year-old. The parent wants to save money, so the parent tells the thirteen-year-old daughter to state her age as twelve. The EXPLICIT message is that saving money is desirable; however, the IMPLICIT message is that being dishonest is acceptable.
- The teenager tells the parent, “I’m going out tonight; I may be late and I may drink at the party.” The parent says, “You’re grounded! I’m not going to let you go if you do that.” The EXPLICIT message to the teen was very clear; yet, so was the reaction to the message: “I’m not going to tell my parents anything anymore. Being candid and open doesn’t work.”
- Here is another instance of the parent sending one message, but the interpretation or implicit message is quite different than what the parent intended: The eighteen-year-old calls her parent and says that she drank a little too much at the party and that she wants to be picked up. This is the responsible thing to do. However, the parent becomes angry with the daughter. On the drive home the parent relentlessly chastises her daughter whose self-talk quickly becomes, “I’m not going to tell my mother next time.”
Here is the point of all these examples: Effective parenting involves reflecting on the implicit message your statements prompt.
What are your experiences with explicit and implicit messages, either ones you’ve realized you’ve given or ones you’ve received? Do you think modeling and effective parenting are related? Please share your comments on the Without Stress Facebook page.