How to Be The Best Role Model For Your Child

teaching kids by example

Role models and heroes are essential for a child’s growth and security. "Excuse me? You say, I thought this was my domain."

It’s true: According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, for many children, parents are their most important role models.

However, kids do need more.  

“Role models help to set a precedent in a kid’s life and provide an example of what to rise to (or, unfortunately, what to sink to if it’s a negative role model)”, says Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist. She notes, role models “provide a template for what’s important in (kids') lives: their actions, how they speak, their goals, etc.”

“Unfortunately”, Dr. Silverman admits, “research tells us that a lot of children don’t have three people they can turn to in times of need or challenge.”

“What I tell parents is to be sure that you multiply and diversify (your child’s) role models; it can’t just be you, it can’t just be a person on television. You have to have 3-D role models: The teacher at school, the basketball coach, the boy who is five years older next door going to college -- they have to become very real people so that the negative role models they see, such as on television, get downgraded in importance,” Silverman explains.

Ultimately though, it will fall on the parent or parents to serve as the primary example for their children. This influence can very often lead well into adulthood.

So what can parents do to help nurture positive behavior(s) and patterns for their children? She suggests the following:

  • Demonstrate balance between work and play

  • Model goal setting

  • Model positive risk taking

  • Model and teach about positive choice making

  • Acknowledge and apologize for mistakes (and then discuss them). This is important as children tend to think role models are perfect and it’s important that children realize that you don’t have to be perfect.
  • Be the person who you want your child to be. “If you don’t want them to do this, this, and this, then don’t do this… Be somebody who’s full of character, who you would be proud of yourself if you were in front of everybody or if you were in front of nobody... Kids need to see that adults are proud to be themselves, they go after their goals, they can be successful in their field.”

And most importantly

  • “Tell your kids, “You should be ‘as you as you can be”.

How do you act as an example for your children?

Anna Katzman is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in psychiatry, certified in child and adolescent mental health. She is a regular contributor to GalTime. You can visit her blog for additional information.


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