ROCHESTER — Someone asked me this question: “I want to teach my kids proper behavior. I get conflicted. Shall I be a tiger mom or be kind? What are your thoughts?”

Here was my response based on my perspective and some of the literature I have reviewed.

“That decision is ultimately yours, but let me share with you the concept of behavioral mimicry. Subconsciously, we tend to mimic the behavior of the people we admire. We start thinking, speaking, feeling, and acting like them. If they cross their legs, we cross our legs; if they lean forward, we lean forward; if they speak in a southern drawl, we start following that accent — all without trying or consciously thinking.

Fascinating research shows that in our personal lives, we mimic those we find kind to us; people who make us feel worthy. Those who treat us poorly may draw more attention, but that attention is coupled with disgust, anger or resignation.

Research also shows that if they internally feel grateful toward you, they are more likely want to spend time with you, even if they have other priorities at that moment.

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So, I have concluded that a good way to help others pick your positive vibes and be a little bit like you is to be kind to them. Your kindness inspires them to choose you as their role model, at least for some parts of their life.

That’s what I am experimenting with in my personal and professional life. It has worked well so far. I’ll let you know in a few decades the final results!

Take care.


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Dr. Amit Sood answers your questions about stress, resilience, happiness, relationships, and related topics in his column. Email