Believe it or not, you’ve been a role model for your kids since they first entered this world. This means that every time you say something, behave in a certain way, or react to someone or something, your kids are observing your behavior. From preschoolers learning how to manage frustration by watching you to teenagers observing how you handle your personal relationships or work stress, your kids are always watching. The good news is that teaching by example is often easier and more effective than forcing your kids to obey rules by scaring, threatening, or bribing them with rewards.
How do I role model?
Many of the most important ways to role model are things you already do every day. Here are five of the basics to get you started:
- Respect yourself and others.
Your kids learn how to value and respect other people by watching you. So be careful about how you talk about friends, family members, neighbors, and even yourself when they’re around. This includes how you talk about school, so consider your words wisely when discussing their teachers and coaches as well.
And remember, your kids also take cues on self-worth from you. Respect yourself and practice self-care. Your kids will follow your lead.
- Practice positive communication skills.
Words are powerful, which means if you use hurtful criticism or disrespectful language, your kids will likely do the same. This includes listening to your kids without interrupting and being respectful when responding, even if you disagree.
By giving your kids your attention, you are showing your respect their thoughts and feelings. And you’re teaching them to do the same for you.
- Be positive.
If you’re hard on yourself or have a tendency to see the glass as half empty, your kids may take on the same kind of negativity in all aspects of their lives. So the next time you make a mistake, think about what your kids could learn from a negative reaction. It’s usually simple mistakes that become the best opportunities to model good behavior.
- Teach the value of health.
Your kids learn healthy habits from you. So if you have a tendency to eat unhealthy or watch too much TV, it’s likely your kids will follow suit. And that goes for the alcohol, tobacco, or other substances as well. If you consume alcohol at home or at social settings, you might unintentionally send the message that it is normal and accepted. Start practicing healthy habits at home and your kids will do the same.
- Manage your anger.
Responding to stress, anger, or frustration in a healthy way is essential for your kids to develop healthy emotional regulation. Anger is a natural feeling, but how we handle it is most certainly being watched by our kids. The next time you are faced with a challenge, try to remain calm, take a deep breath and talk through the issue. Your kids will learn to think about his own reactions the next time he gets mad.