We hear young children talk in awe of their parents. Little ones in the playground boast that their parent is the strongest, the smartest, the coolest, the ‘bestest’. No matter what you do, your child is looking up at you thinking you are the best; that you’re the most amazing person they know. Children love us so unconditionally; they forgive us when we know at times we don’t deserve their kindness. They admire us when we know that maybe we could have done better, or had more self-control.
Role modelling is a term most parents have heard, yet how we go about doing it can be confusing and challenging. Being a child’s role model is a wonderful opportunity to teach them life skills. As we parent, the challenge is to try and ensure that we don’t create behaviours for our children through the relationship we build with them.
How can we support our children to learn from us? How can we build confidence in our children, without creating pressure? How can we create loving relationships without controlling? And how can we teach our children without showing off or shying away? We can show them that we are not perfect, but that we try our best, and that we care about others.
Here are some tips to focus on which may support you in role modelling for your child:
1. Behave well
Be conscious of how you behave. We all look at others and shake our heads, and see the errors of their ways. We think we could do better. Noticing how you behave and engage with others will really support your parenting.
2. Reflect more
Reflect more often on how you engage with your child. Life is so busy for families that it can be hard to create time to stop and step back and look at what is going on. Create time to reflect on how each family member is engaging with each other and with you, the parent. Families are stronger, more resilient and more capable of coping with challenges they encounter when they know each other well.
3. Explore feelings
Many parents hide their feelings, thinking they are protecting children. Children can be very confused by this. Teach your child about what you do to manage your feelings in a healthy way. Talking openly about feelings increases families’ sense of wellbeing. It supports family members to connect and have empathy for each other.
4. Understand feelings
Unmet needs create behaviours that become very challenging in relationships. Identifying the needs of your child and finding ways to meet them will lead to a happy healthy child.
5. Listen more
Hear what your child is saying, not just through their words but in their expressions and behaviours. Allowing your child to have a voice in the home is crucial for their development. Valuing their opinion and allowing them to have choices and make decisions all help your child to build confidence and self-esteem, creating a very caring home where children feel valued and respected.
6. Learn each day
Every child is different and responds differently to parents. Be open with new ways and approaches. We can learn so much from our children. Boundaries are the key to managing your child. You can maintain boundaries without having to be over-controlling and authoritarian.
7. Say sorry more often
Just because you are the adult, this doesn’t mean you have to be the boss. As Dr Tony Humphreys says, you are the architect of the family, building the structures. Sticking to a plan just because you said you would is not always the best plan.
8. Family traditions
Acknowledge what is working in your home, and focus on the strengths of your family. Introduce special traditions in your family to mark family life. Celebrate your family in your own special way.
9. Plan together
Try to sit with your children and family, and identify issues together and plan new approaches together. If you go it alone, your children will not support the changes, and the challenges will become more intense. Using tools such as family meetings can really support change to happen and allow all the family to take part in making the change happen.
10. Laugh more
Enjoy today. Enjoy the now. Give it your best. Respect each other. Children grow up faster than we can ever imagine or anticipate, so each day has something wonderful to offer to you. Scrap-book the moments and memories now!
Parent Mentor