It can be easy to use the “do as I say, not as I do” approach when parenting your kids. After all, you do know what’s best for your kids and have plenty of well-intentioned advice to offer.
However, this approach won’t always work. From birth, children imitate the adults around them. They will pick up on everything they observe. Depending on their environment, the behaviors they pick up on can range from the most innocent of their parents’ mannerisms and catch phrases to more obscene and destructive behaviors.
You can utilize children’s tendencies to imitate the adults in their lives by making a purpose to show them acceptable behaviors. Here are 4 specific ideas on how you can actively be a good role model for your kids.
- Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Balance your kids’ diets and exercise. Limit their indulgences on sweets, but don’t make remarks that could lead to them having an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies. Don’t skip dinner or binge on chocolate while forcing them to eat a healthy dinner. Join them and show them the importance of balanced and complete eating.
One way to promote a healthy lifestyle in front of your kids is by playing with them outdoors. Don’t be the mom sitting on the park bench who only acts as a supervisor and doesn’t actively engage with their kids. If your kids see you running around with them, they will be more enthusiastic and willing to play outside instead of engaging in passive activities, like video games and watching TV.
- Embrace Differences
Don’t talk negatively about strangers in public or in popular culture. If you see people who are living a lifestyle that is different from what you are accustomed to, do not make negative or unaccepting comments about them. Always be conscious of what you say. Even little comments like, “Why did *insert well-known celebrity* get that tattoo? She ruined her body by doing that!” can condition your kids into thinking that anything that strays from the norm is unacceptable and shouldn’t be explored or embraced.
Allow your kids to live in a world where people can be themselves without judgment from others. This positive environment will prevent them from criticizing their peers, make them more open-minded, and allow them to freely express themselves how they see fit.
- Avoid Gossip
There are loads of conversations to be had about the negative effects of gossip on your life, like in The Four Agreements summary. Don’t transfer the toxic habit of gossip to your kids.
You may have issues with in-laws, or even your own side of the family. Allowing these resentments to become apparent through gossip is detrimental to your kids’ social environment. Even quick, passive remarks made in front of your kids about a relative can create tensions and negative feelings. Let your kids develop their own opinions on the people in their lives and don’t encourage the use of gossip.
- Foster Positivity (While Accepting The Reality of Bad Days)
Always do your best to maintain a positive attitude and encourage your kids to persist through difficult times. Avoiding behaviors like throwing your phone in frustration and exhibiting road rage will create an optimistic and productive environment for your kids.
This step should be balanced with the acceptance of bad days. Encourage your kids to talk to you about their feelings. Be honest with them about how you’re feeling, and show that it is okay to experience a healthy range of normal human emotions, like sadness and stress. This will allow them to come to you with problems and improve their emotional intelligence.
Ensure your kids have a positive role model to look up to by adapting these behaviors, both around your kids and in their absence, to make them a natural and effortless part of your life.