We all want to be good role models for our children. An integral part of being that good role model is displaying good character for them. Character is the backbone that will help our children go through life in the most positive way possible. Why is it so important and how can we model it to them?
Practice What You Preach
Also known as “Do as I say, not as I do,” this principle tells us that how we live is more important than what we say. If we are telling our children to show respect to everyone but we ourselves are lifting the middle finger to other drivers and yelling at people in the grocery store, our verbal teaching makes no difference.
Our children watch our every move. It is in our best interest, and theirs, to be the person we want them to become. Acting in a way that shows kindness, empathy, and respect towards the people around us will show our children how to do the same. Being the person you want them to be is the most effective way to raise them.
Character Is Contagious
When you have made a choice to role model good character for your children, it will become a habit and something you begin to do automatically. This in turn will become a natural response for your children.
When the grocery store cashier accidentally gives you too much change, go back and return it. If someone walking ahead of you drops something valuable, pick it up and take it to them. All these small incidents will solidify honesty into your children’s minds and become a part of who they are. Each character trait can be taught in this way. Look for teaching opportunities and you will find them.
One of the best things you can model to your children is compassion. Showing your children that everyone is worthy of respect is a life-changing lesson. When you disagree with someone, try to see their point of view and talk it over with your child if the opportunity arises. If your child or anyone else makes fun of someone for being different, gently point out that our differences are what make us unique and special. Be an advocate for everyone and your child will more likely follow in your steps.
Our treatment of others is not the only thing our children will emulate. They will also pick up on the subtle ways we respect or disrespect ourselves. If you want your children to value and love themselves, you have to value and love yourself.
Being a good role model is more than just talking constantly about doing the right thing. It is not about teaching lessons verbally, or convincing our children to become a certain way. It is about how we live our lives and show big and small kindnesses to others. Take the time and care to behave in a way that conveys what you truly desire to teach your children. This is the only sure way to let them know that this is what you believe, and what you hope they too will someday choose.