4 Reasons More Is Caught Than Taught

“Children take more notice of what their parents do, than what they say.”

– William Tiptaft

Seeing What You Do

Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They catch a lot of things we think they might miss. One mother who didn’t want to take a phone call from someone told her son to tell them she wasn’t home. How often is this done in our homes? The child could now justify lying because his mother had lied, and he now sees lying as a way of getting out of something he doesn’t want to do. He saw what his mother did and started doing the same thing, even though his parents taught him to be honest.

Hearing What You Say

Children cannot hear what we are saying if our actions are drowning out our words. In other words, our actions speak louder and more clearly than our words. Children will tend to do what we do rather than what we say, especially if we say one thing and then do another. If there is no consistency in a parent’s words, children will see it as normal and take that to heart. The child can’t hear what the parents are saying because their actions are drowning out their words. Do what I say and not what I do is not as effective as doing what you say.

Doing What You Do

I touched on this briefly in the previous paragraph but want to expand on it. When we say one thing and do another, we are just as much telling our children that lying is okay than if we actually told them so. Children will see that if they are asked to do something that’s uncomfortable or inconvenient, they can lie to get out of it. They will also take the easy way out and lie about something in order to get out of a duty or task. However, if parents do what they teach their children to do, children will see that as normal. Isn’t that what every parent wants?

Learning by What You Did

More is caught than taught, so we must all be careful about what they catch around us. This includes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, foster parents, and any caregiver. You can’t fool children like you think you can. They catch a lot more than we can even imagine. They are watching us, and for good or bad they will learn to do what we do. Teaching them one thing and then doing another is worse than teaching them anything at all. Children can see right through hypocrisy.


It is true what William Tiptaft said that children take more notice of what their parents do than what they say, as they are seeing what is done and hearing what is said; and they will eventually end up saying and doing very much the same thing as you, either for good or bad. Much more is caught than is ever taught, as children can’t hear what you’re saying because your action is drowning out your words.