Experts say the best way to set a good example for your children is through example. But, along with that example, you should explain why you do what you do. This will help children much more than just the watch and learn example. It may feel strange at first to verbalize each part of your decision-making, but by doing this you are showing your child responsibility and it is not coming across as a lecture.
A good example of this, according to Robyn Silverman, a New Jersey-based child and teen development specialist is in the following example:
“You say, ‘I made this commitment to go to the PTA meeting, but I’m really tired. I don’t want to go. So this is a real hard choice for me, but commitment is really important for me,'” and so on. “They hear your process.”
Experts also state that the world is your classroom. Lessons can arise from books your children read, movies they watch or from interacting with their peers.
“This strategy of explanation and engagement is what psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore calls “modeling plus”—essentially, taking role modeling to the next level. That’s because simply doing something on its own doesn’t always drive the message home to your kids.”
As I’m sure you are well aware, this may not work with every child or every time. But, as I am sure you have experienced, the idea of do as I say, not what I do will never work with kids. Remember, your kids are watching you even when you think they are not. You always want your messages to be consistent and positive. They will always model your behavior. If you want your children to exercise and eat well you must follow that same philosophy. Make it fun by doing it together.
It is important to note that as your children get older the form of the message you are trying to convey must match their age and comprehension skills. One psychologist refers to this as her “30 year plan.” The characteristics that parents should instill in their children include empathy, integrity and honesty. By displaying these qualities yourself and instilling them in your children they will grow to be good parents, good partners and good citizens of the world.
Whether we are adults or children we are all looking for the same things in life. We are looking for happiness, connection with others and inspiration. By using the modeling plus technique this is possible.