There’s no running away from it. Kids mimic their parents and that includes the good, the bad and the ugly of our day to day behaviours that we model for them.
Ever had one of those times where you’re out in public and your child suddenly acts or blurts out something really ugly that stops everyone dead in their tracks? If you’re a parent, these situations can be horrifying for a multitude of reasons that I probably don’t need to elaborate on if you’ve ever been in this situation.
The concept sounds so simple. Parenting by example seems like it should be such an obvious fact and a simple concept that all of us should be easily able to live by. The hard part comes with trying to set good examples consistently on a day by day basis. Of course we all want our kids to grow up to be happy, independent adults with strong moral values that will positively contribute to our world.
We’ve all heard the saying “do as I say, not as I do”. Most parents are well intended, but it's those times when we get stressed out and short on time that it can be really difficult to always be the perfect parents that we’d like to be.
Most of us strive to be consistent and moral, but we also need to have the ability to develop skills that will enable us to adapt, re-evaluate and make changes in our parenting skills along the way too. Add to this equation that every child is a unique individual and the parenting picture becomes even more complicated.
So to keep the responsibility of parenting from becoming too overwhelming a prospect, here are four basic principles we can focus on modeling as parents that will go a long way towards helping our kids live contented lives and to more easily find their place in the world.
Live by the Morals of Truth, Honesty, Compassion & Faith
A parent’s positive and realistic attitude towards life allows a place for them to make and learn from their mistakes and it also goes a long way towards teaching kids to accept and deal with whatever their own life circumstance are or might become long after they’ve become adults. This can be something as simple as being courteous to the mailman, or returning a lost item to the lost and found department. Having life lessons like these modeled by a parent, go so much farther than telling your kids they need to be considerate and honest.
Focus on Behaviours Rather than Individuals
Be careful with overly harsh criticisms, remarks or judgments about your child as an individual. If you instead focus on their behaviours, it will make it much easier for your kids to be receptive to modify their behaviours, without having your guidance damage their identities.
Listen, Acknowledge and Stay Involved in Your Kid’s Lives
Make a place in each day where you “check in” with your kids to find out how their day has gone and how they are feeling. Make this part of your regular routine, so if the time come when a problem presents, it won’t feel forced or awkward that you are checking in with them to find out how things are going. Doing this on a regular basis will create an open environment where your kids will feel comfortable sharing their feelings and problems, no matter how big or small they might be.
Live a Life of Gracious Tolerance
If you already model for you kids that you have relationships with many different kinds of people who come from a broad spectrum of cultures, races, faiths and backgrounds, your kids will naturally learn to accept others in the world around them who have attitudes and beliefs that differ from their immediate family.