Research has demonstrated that there are special brain cells called mirror neurons. When we witness someone’s misfortune, such as smashing a finger or tripping, we also involuntarily flinch in sympathy. That’s our mirror neurons becoming active in the brain as if we ourselves were engaging in the same behavior that we are observing. The old myth ‘yawning is contagious’ comes from your mirror neurons firing without you realizing it. Children learn from imitation, and so we become the teachers as their mirror neurons are developed.
One of our team mates, Bob Renney, APCom EHS Manager, had a mirror neurons anecdote including his grandson, Dakota. Bob talks about safety while at home and frequently helps and coaches Dakota with projects. Bob was helping Dakota with a fun activity that they had done together several times. The process is that the child uses a wooden chisel and hammer to chip away a sandblock to reveal one of several gems, or it could possibly contain a genuine piece of gold hidden within the block. Just as Dakota was about to start chipping, he excitedly exclaimed, “Safety first!” and ran from the room. Bob was a bit puzzled. Before long, Dakota reappeared wearing safety glasses - they were a great pair with side shields and foam lining. It shouldn’t be shocking that children can imitate what adults do or say, but frequently we are surprised that they are actually watching and listening to what is being said. This shows how powerful our actions and words are and that we have the potential to influence others, as well as create a lifelong practice and lesson for our children. Safety First starts with you, whether you are at work, or home.
And if you were curious, Dakota was so excited this time to find a genuine speck of gold in his sandblock.
Who will you influence today?