The relationship between parents and children is perfectly designed to enable children to watch and learn from parents, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Because parental examples have such a significant impact on children, it’s prudent to examine the behavior you model for your kids to ensure it’s positive.
Demonstrating an attitude of respect toward other people, in the way you speak to and of others, is highly influential for children. When children watch you treating others kindly and generously, looking for ways to help and support others, they often naturally model this behavior in their own interactions. The morals you value -- the basic teaching of right and wrong -- are an important lesson for your offspring, according to David Popenoe, Ph.D., professor of sociology with Rutgers University. By demonstrating the way you want your children to behave and act so that they can watch your conduct in action, children naturally copy your example. Conversely, if parents demonstrate a preoccupied or selfishly motivated attitude toward others, children may not learn an altruistic attitude toward other people.
Everyone feels anger from time to time, so it’s imperative to learn how to express and manage angry feelings, states the Parenting.org website. Because children are all ears and eyes on parents, the way you express and handle yourself when you’re frustrated or angry can have a major effect on how your child learns to express anger, too. Yelling, lashing out or becoming verbally abusive toward others may lead children to emulate this behavior. By contrast, counting to 10, breathing deeply and talking about your emotions will help kids learn positive anger management skills.
If parents’ actions and words do not agree, this lack of consistency can confuse children, advises the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Because children seem to zero in more on actions than words, your actions will likely have more impact on your children than your words will. This means that if your words teach positive attributes but your actions are not so positive, your children may be more likely to follow the negative example of your actions over your words.
Even when trying hard to set a positive example for your children, you will make mistakes and errors in judgment from time to time. When you make a mistake, turn it into an effective teaching moment for your children by modeling humility and respect. Talk to your child about your mistake and apologize for it, advise Faden Fulleylove-Krause and Roberta Lawonn, with the University of Wisconsin. By resolving the situation positively and proactively, you teach your kids a positive way to resolve problems and make amends with others.