Parents tend to be the strongest role models in their child’s life and this can be a strong parenting asset. Imagine all of the wonderful things you want your child to be, for example, kind,
respectful, and honest. If you choose to model those traits, your child is likely to follow suit.
As a role model it is important to recognize that you have a range of emotions and responses. It is not realistic to expect you can always model happy, calm behaviour. There are upsetting moments in life that can make you feel sad, frustrated or angry. However, if your child sees that you are angry, for example, but able to handle it appropriately, they are more likely to handle their own anger appropriately too.
Here are some tips for being a good role model for your child:
Communicate – Talk to your child about the choices you make to be a good role model. Ask them what they think is important in a role model, and why? Find ways to talk about the topic of role modeling when out with them. For example, if their soccer coach is supportive and encouraging, mention it and ask them what they think. Alternately, if an adult is behaving inappropriately, such as a parent booing at a sport event, talk about this too.
Provide opportunities – Find opportunities for your child to act as a role model for younger children. Ask if their school has such opportunities or seek them out in your community.
Be aware of other influences – Know your child’s friends and their friends’ parents. Be aware of what is being modeled in the homes that your child is visiting. Help them try to make sense of the lifestyles they see in advertising and on TV shows.
Learn from mistakes – Everybody makes mistakes; it is part of being human. If you do make a mistake, it is possible to talk to your child about this without burdening them with adult problems. You can apologize and explain that you made a mistake but that you are trying hard to change. The important thing is to reassure them that you love them and that adult problems are not their fault. When something goes wrong, use it as an opportunity to discuss different choices.
The information above was compiled from the Alberta Health Services’ Parent Information Series. For more information on role modeling and other topics for parents visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/2434.asp