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Model and Be the Person You Want Your Child to Be

Posted by Colleen Moyne on 11/4/2016

We all want our child to grow up to be a great human being. We dream of them leading a happy, fulfilled, productive existence and treating others with respect and kindness.

So what is the best way to ensure this happens? How can we encourage the qualities we would like to see in our children?

Most of us are familiar with the well-known poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, ‘Children learn what they live,’ which reminds us that the environment in which our children live shapes who they become. Not only do children develop their beliefs according to what we as parents reflect, but it goes much deeper than that.

Children are like little sponges that absorb everything that their parents do and say. They take in and reflect our words, opinions, gestures and emotions. That’s an awful lot of responsibility for us as role models but it’s a responsibility we take on when we choose to become parents.

I observed a parent in a store recently swearing at her toddler while reprimanding her. The two of them were engaged in a full-on argument and the learned behaviour was obvious in the language, gestures and tone. The young child (no more than three) was emulating the mother in every way. How can that mother hope to raise a respectful child when she is showing her that yelling and swearing are acceptable?

It’s all too easy to let our frustration show when our child is being slow or stubborn. It’s easy to use negative language when our patience is wearing thin. It’s easy to forget that our child is listening when we say something disparaging about another person. But in doing so we are sending the message that these behaviours and attitudes are the norm. Then when we see our child exhibiting frustration or using negative language we reprimand them for it.

So we need to check our own behaviours and attitudes with our children and to model the person we want them to be.

Want them to work hard to achieve their goals? Show them that you are willing to work hard. Want them to be joyful and enthusiastic? Show joy and enthusiasm. Want them to love learning? Show them that you enjoy learning. Want them to be tolerant? Show tolerance. Want them to see them treat others respectfully? Let them hear you praising others and showing empathy instead of harsh judgement.

The actress Drew Barrymore said it succinctly with this quote, ‘The best kind of parent you can be is to lead by example’



Author: Colleen Moyne

Colleen Moyne

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