Joan noticed her six-year-old daughter gave up her seat in the bus for an elderly lady. Joan was impressed and shared this incident with her husband at night. But she kept wondering how her little girl had become so thoughtful at such a young age. Her husband solved this puzzle for her. He reminded her of a family gathering they had been to, a week ago and how Joan had offered her own chair at the dinner table to Uncle Sam since he couldn’t find his designated table. Joan was amused thinking how she was a role model to her daughter, how much she had influenced her child unknowingly and how much more she could achieve if she consciously put in more effort.
An old saying goes. ‘Young minds are like wet clay; you can mold them and give them any shape’. One of the reasons why qualities of parents are reflected in their children is genetic, indicating the power of “nature”. Another reason also lies in the impact of the environment in which a child is raised, which is referred to as “nurture.” Parents are whom a child spends the majority of their time with early on and thus they are the first role models children learn from. Role models are people who others look up to and try to imitate.
As a parent, it is impossible not to influence your child. Actions, be it positive or negative, leave a mark on young minds. From infancy, kids naturally observe their parents and mimic them and there is a whole lot of learning that takes place even before a child develops language. Since children learn so much from you, it is in their best interest that you model good behavior for your child to follow. Your lifestyle choices, attitude towards sports, academics and other aspects of daily life impact your child’s choices too.
If you are wondering what kind of a role model you are, here are a few checkpoints to help you determine if you are a good one:
Do you practice self-control?
As humans, we all feel strong emotions. It is also healthy to release negative emotions. However, consider how you handle stress and anger, how you respond to problems and how you express your frustration. Yelling to put across your point rarely helps. Also mind the language and tone you use before your children even if you are not directly talking to them. Remember, children easily pick up negative words and tones used at home.
Read also: How to negotiate with your children
How do you maintain relationships?
Your relationship with friends, family and colleagues forms an important part of your child’s life. When you model good manners and respect for others, it teaches children to be polite and respectful of other people. Be mindful of what you talk about people when they are not around. Your child may overhear you calling a friend a liar. And it can cause your child to do the same with their friends or view your friend in the same light.
Do you have good habits and set goals?
Keeping good habits brings structure to life. It is a sign of organization and stability. It teaches your kids that something done regularly can help build a greater skill. Setting and achieving goals are important as they are an important aspect of progress. When kids see their parents moving along according to plan, it shows them the importance of organization and self-discipline. Self-improvement allows us to try new experiences and broadens our horizons.
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Are you a role model who owns up mistakes?
Do not try to portray yourself as somebody else in front of your children. Share your past experiences when it is appropriate—failures and victories. Take responsibility for yourself by admitting your own mistakes and help kids understand how you can correct them. Do not blame other people or circumstances. Instead, teach your child how to think and to use problem-solving skills to deal with challenges or conflicts in a calm and productive way.
Are you independent?
Raising independent children is one of the best things you can do as a parent. When you pursue your own goals, you can teach your children that they don’t have to follow the crowd, and they can be their own person. Define your own successes and allow your children to define theirs.
Children need love, boundaries, and a role model to look up to. There is no shortage of candidates – from cartoon characters and athletes, to relatives, teachers, and peers. However, nothing comes close to the influence a parent has. Children are more susceptible to what their parents do than what they say. It’s all about modeling the values, characteristics, and behavior you hope to see in your child and it’s never too soon to model good behavior and healthy habits for your child.
“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating”
– John Wooden