Kids are awesome imitators. What we do as parents shows our kids how we want them to behave.
A few weeks ago I was driving with my youngest in the back seat and we were running late. We came upon a road construction worker re-directing traffic and had to change our planned route. My angry “Oh, great! Now we had to take the long way round!!” quickly melted when without missing a beat he piped up with a personal rendition of “I got my ticket for the long way round…” which instantly made me smile.
His question “Why were you mad, Mom?” made me re-consider my first reaction. “You know, I’m feeling rushed because we’re late, and I felt upset the construction made me change our route. But it’s great that they are fixing this road to make it better for us to drive and bike on!” And what happened next? I took a deep breath, relaxed and joined in the singing.
It’s important for me to not lose sight of the fact that my kids are watching and listening to everything I do. Especially when it comes to how I deal with challenging situations. I know that my kids are storing away my reactions as clues to how they should respond under similar circumstances.
When trying to be a better role model, I think about the qualities I value when I feel myself getting worked up. Things like:
- Being patient
- Showing respect
- Being kind and considerate of others
And when I consider how to model these qualities to my son, it actually helps ME be a better person.
Here are my key learnings:
Try to keep your cool.
Breathe. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Yupp, it works for parents too. By role modeling that I can keep my cool in tough situations I am showing my child that they can to. Also, be forgiving to yourself (and them) when you don’t succeed 100% of the time.
Be respectful with others.
Consider how you speak to your children, your spouse, your friends and neighbours, the driver who cut you off, the slow-moving check-out person at the grocery store. Do you model respect through your words and tone of voice?
Everyone wants to feel heard. If I want my kids to listen, I need to actually show them I am listening when they talk. The same goes for pretty much everyone.
Model calm problem solving. (Out loud where appropriate)
It helps kids to hear us problem solving aloud, and figuring out how to come to a reasonable solution by weighing our options. It will encourage them to do the same. Talk about your choices and decision making so they can use them as their own guidelines.
Own up to your mistakes and accept mistakes in others.
Take responsibility for your mistakes. When things go wrong, try not to blame people or circumstances. “I felt frustrated about having to go another route because we were running late. Yelling wasn’t helpful. I’m sorry.”
Role modeling is one of the most powerful tools you have in your parenting tool belt to influence the direction of your children’s character, whatever their age. When used to best advantage, you can pass on the values you want your children to adopt so that they become the adults you would like them to be. – David Streight
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this guest blogger:
Kajsa Klassen – I am a public health nurse with the School Years Program. I love working alongside students, school staff and parents to create positive environments where all can thrive. As a mom of 3 I greatly enjoy sharing in the parenting journey with other Halton parents and all the adventures that come with it. Our family likes to explore the outdoors in our Halton Hills community.