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7 Ways to be Your Child's Role Model

November 3, 2019 | by Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP

Because you are the greatest influence in your child's life.

We all want our children to grow up to be resilient, kind and caring adults. One of the most important ways to do is to make sure that they have a good role model. Obviously, the most influential and significant role model they have is us, their parents.

Children do what we do, not what we say, and they pick up on everything. This can give us the push we need to improve our own character traits. And when our children exhibit poor behavior, before we rush to punish we should take a good look in the mirror. If our child is behaving irresponsibly, it might mean that we've been shirking our responsibilities. If our child is being disrespectful, it might mean we have to take a look at how we have been speaking to our loved ones.

Here are 7 ways we can be a good role model for our children.

1. Be positive: No one likes a grump. Optimistic people are generally more resilient, more well-liked and subsequently more successful in life. One of the best gifts you can give your children is to role model positivity. We can simply talk about the good things that happened to us that day at dinner or even bed time.

When something challenging happens to us, we can say, “I am sure there is something good with this setback…I might not see it now, but I am sure down the line something good will come from this.” This gives children a clear picture on how to weather the vicissitudes of life with happy, healthy attitude.

Parents who cultivate a sense of good fun create a loving atmosphere in their home. Jokes and lightheartedness can help a child and parents develop a wonderful relationship.

2. Be healthy: Childhood obesity is at an all-time high. It’s not easy but we need to eat properly and find time to exercise. Children who see their parents eating well, exercising, going to the doctor when they are sick and maintaining regular check-ups will have an easier time managing their own health.

3. Keep your cool: Do you have an angry kid? This is the perfect opportunity to model anger management techniques. For example, if you get angry, use the “talk out loud technique.” Say things like, “Oh boy, I am getting really upset, I am going to count to 5 and see if that helps!”

Examine what triggers your anger. Everyone gets angry for different reasons. For example, I know when I am tired I am more susceptible to snapping at my family. I will let my kids know, “I am tired today and I have to really work on my patience because when I'm tired, I get irritated and angry easily." If I start to see that my patience is short, I will take a break instead of yelling. This gives children a living model so that they can hopefully try to figure out what their own triggers are.

4. Be respectful: Often the biggest complaints about modern children is their lack of respect. One of the reasons for this is that they don’t have good models for respectful behavior. Whether its television or just the world around them, sadly, studies have shown that people in general are ruder.

As parents we need to step up our game. Children learn the most from how we interact with our spouses. Treating our spouse with respect is the first step. Then we need to act respectfully towards our children. We can do this by speaking in a calm manner, avoid barking out commands, (Take out the garbage now!) and by listening to them and their needs. This also means appreciating them for who they are, not who we want them to be.

5. Be caring: If we want our children to care for others, then they obviously need to see us act in nurturing ways. Again, this starts with how we care for our spouse, our children, and our extended family. We can also do this by volunteering, cooking for shut-ins or new mothers, and giving Tzedakah. Let your child help you. Depending on their age, they can cook some of the dinner, deliver the packages or just put the coin in the tzedakah box for you.

6. Talk about your values: If your children are not exhibiting the behavior you'd like to see, avoid the long lectures and instead talk about yourself, (using the ever-handy parenting technique of “I” statements).

For example, if your child lies to you about their homework, instead of saying, “How could you lie about your homework? What were you thinking?” say: “It’s important that homework should be done in a timely fashion. I would appreciate honest answers in the future.”

If your older child is watching a TV show on the sly that you don’t approve of, instead of saying:How can you watch such garbage. It is so not appropriate! You should watch educational shows!” It’s best if you just say, I would appreciate if you watched shows that align with our family’s values. The violence and inappropriate content is not something that I approve of.”

Then just sit back and let it sink in. Further arguments won’t pack as big a punch as those two sentences.

It's also helpful to remember at that point, what Michael C. Bradley says in his book, “Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy”. He assures parents that “your morals, values and ethics become an integral part of your child’s psychological makeup. If you have been imparting good values to your children, they will stay with him for the rest of his life. During adolescence, “(they) may have put them (your values) in cold storage…but they’re there and they will reappear in time.”

7. Love them: Finally, you want to have a good and loving relationship with your child. The more you show that you love them, the more they will love, respect you and want to be like you.

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