How to Set Good Examples for Your Children

As any parent who has ever slipped and said a bad word in front of a toddler knows, children imitate what they witness. The challenge for parents, then, is to give their kids something really good to imitate. Do your little ones get a chance to see your good behavior? Here are some great ways to set good examples for your children.

  • Show kindness in big and small ways, in front of your kids. Send a card to a friend who is going through a difficult time, and let your kids sign their names. Pay for someone’s groceries or coffee or fast food meal. Hold the door for someone, or let someone go ahead of you in traffic or the parking lot. Offer to help an elderly neighbor, or just greet employees when you walk into a store. If you operate out of a spirit of kindness, your kids will notice.
  • Exhibit generosity, and give your kids a chance to participate in generous acts. Give your kids change to drop in a tip jar, or being them with you to volunteer in a community event. Let them help you make cookies for the school’s front-office staff or dinner for a family with a new baby. Make a habit of having them donate books and toys to those in need, whether it’s things they’ve outgrown or things they pick out to give at the holidays.
  • Give back to the helpers in your children’s world. Have your kids make cards or gifts for their teachers and the support staff at the school, in addition to whatever gift you’re giving. Give thank-you gifts to the postal worker, delivery people, and garbage collectors. Take cookies to the fire station. Let your children see and participate in expressions of appreciation.
  • Be genuinely interested in those around you. This includes your kids: sincerely pay attention to what they have to say. Really listen to other people too, and get to know the names of people you interact with regularly, like school staff, the mail carrier, and the cashier at your local grocery store. Notice when someone does something well, and be generous with your compliments.
  • Teach by example how to manage emotions and handle stress. It’s easy to react emotionally to stressful situations, but it’s not a good way to make decisions. Model calm to your children, and talk them through your decision-making process. Find healthy outlets for stress, and teach your children practices like mindfulness and deep breathing.
  • Cultivate a spirit of gratitude in your family. Regularly express gratitude for the blessings in your life, and encourage your kids to do the same. Value people and relationships over material possessions and wealth, and avoid complaining.
  • Demonstrate responsibility in all areas of your life. Take care of your body, live up to your commitments, and teach your kids how to use a calendar, a planner, and other organizational tools. Take pride in your work, and let your kids see that your work has meaning. Be a person of integrity, and do the things you say you’ll do.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable around your kids. Your kids need to know that flaws are normal, and failure is something everyone experiences. Tell them about obstacles you’ve overcome and show them what it means to be resilient. Model an attitude of continually striving toward self-improvement.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong. Everyone slips up sometimes, and it’s good for your kids to know you’re not perfect. Treat your children like people, and apologize when you’re in the wrong. Being willing to admit mistakes is an important part of building a healthy, happy family.

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