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Leading by Example: Modeling Positive Behaviors for Your Children


Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a responsible, kind, and successful individual. You teach them right from wrong, share valuable life lessons, and encourage them to follow their dreams. But did you know that one of the most impactful ways to shape your kid’s behavior is through your actions? Modeling behavior is one of your most powerful tools to promote their development.

Why Modeling Works

Children are highly observant and tend to mimic the attitudes and actions they see around them. They learn more from our actions than words alone, so the “do as I say and not as I do” approach is rarely practical. Research has shown that children imitate a role model’s behavior, even if it appears meaningless or unnecessary. This aspect of human behavior can be advantageous when promoting positive habits such as exercise, healthy eating, and effective study routines. However, we can fall into the trap of unintentionally passing poor habits on to our children. The bright side is that modeling behavior’s influence continues into young adulthood, so there is always time to set a positive example!

Tips for Modelling Behavior for Your Children

  1. Be mindful of your actions – Recognize that your children are always watching and learning from you. They really are sponges! Make sure your actions, words, and tone of voice align with the values and actions you want to see in them.
  2. Practice what you preach – If you expect your children to show certain behaviors, make sure you exemplify those behaviors yourself. For example, if you want them to have a healthy lifestyle, make sure that you engage in regular exercise and make nutritious food choices. 
  3. Explain the “why” and encourage open discussions – Take the time to explain why these behaviors are important. For example, if you are helping a neighbor, discuss the value of kindness and support in a community. Through this, create a safe space for your children to share their thoughts and emotions. Open communication can foster positive behaviors.
  4. Collaborate with your children – Involve your children in activities where they can observe positive role modeling. Whether cooking a meal or tackling a project, working together allows them to understand your approach and witness your problem-solving skills. Conducting a challenging task from start to finish can foster a strong work ethic that can easily be translated into the classroom and in their everyday lives.
  5. Avoid punishing them for bad habits that you model – While it can be easy to fall into the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ rationale when you are tired or stressed, realize that it is second nature for your child to follow your steps. Instead, work as a team to build accountability so you can both develop better habits.
  6. Surround them with positive role models – Apart from yourself, expose your child to other positive adult influences. Encourage relationships with coaches, teachers, mentors, and family members who embody the behaviors you want to introduce. These individuals help to reinforce your message.

To best change children’s behavior, we must examine our own. Students will reflect on the attitudes and behaviors they see in their role models, regardless of whether they are traits we want to pass on. As we model the behavior we want to see, engaging in meaningful discussions on the significance of these behaviors, including our perspectives, is essential. This will help to improve decision-making skills and reinforce constructive behaviors that will help our students be the best they can be.

For More:

Role Models and Children 

Model the Behavior You Want to See 

Positive Role Models in Student Success

See and Do Model Behavior

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