Anyone who has a very young child knows that their little one often needs help making choices. They also need to see role models. To help young children make positive choices, lead by example.
Children are always watching and imitating what they see their parents and other caregivers do. No matter what you say to them or around them, what you do is more significant. To lead by example, remain aware of the way you act around your child every day.
What Are You Really Showing Your Child?
Getting angry, complaining, or making negative comments teaches your child that these are appropriate ways to behave. Instead, model good behaviour and lead with your example.
Implement these tips into your daily life to model positive behaviour to your pre-schooler:
1. Remember that acting out your anger doesn’t solve anything. There are certainly times when showing your displeasure is appropriate, but there are ways to handle those emotions that are more productive than others. Avoid hitting, yelling, or cursing. Those are behaviours that you want to avoid encouraging in your pre-schooler.
2. It’s okay to cry or be sad about something important. However, it’s usually better to tone it down around very young children so as not to upset them. Shedding a tear or two is fine, but sobbing uncontrollably over a minor problem isn’t the kind of behaviour you want your little one to model.
- Children are very receptive to their parents’ emotions and may experience intense sadness if you share yours.
3. How you live your life will shape how your child lives theirs. Even if you think your little one is too young to pay much attention, they notice all sorts of things. Whether you smoke or drink, what you weigh, how you eat, whether you sleep enough, and other choices become models for how to live life. Ensure your child is seeing positive behaviours to imitate.
When You’re Not There
It’s not possible to watch your child every single second. As they enters school, even pre-school, they’ll spend more time with friends. With that in mind, good examples are more important than ever. If you model good behavior, your pre-schooler will learn to make the right choices when they’re not around you – even if others do wrong.
That good behaviour when you’re not there to watch over them is what you’re really looking to create. You want your pre-schooler to explore their world and learn how to eventually live their own life. While they’re growing up, though, it’s important that you guide them and show them the right path. If you model this clearly and consistently, you’ll have less to fear as they grow up.
Children who see their parents doing the right things grow up learning to do the right things. They make good choices, generally, even when their parents aren’t around to watch them. By leading by example, you also don’t put as many rules and restrictions on your child. You also avoid forcing them to do a lot of things that you can’t or won’t do, which can breed resentment.
Children who grow up with too many restrictions often rebel, and that’s not what you want to see happen as your pre-schooler gets older. Instead, limit rules to ones that you both follow willingly. Your pre-schooler will be proud to emulate you, and you’ll raise a child who can safely find their own way in the world.
About The Author – Ed Gough, Jr.
Ed's experience working with fathers and men injects an extra dose of thoughtfulness into all of his conversations in these areas. His mission is to bring purpose and clarity to fathers' and men's lives. He believes that "the better men are, the better the world will be".
Ed has been a member of Dad central (Ontario) Steering Committee since May 2019. Ed hosts Dad Central's monthly epic events and was the moderator for the "Dad's Panel" at the 2019 Side-by-Side: Fatherhood Matters in the Early Years" conference.
Ed has been the host and producer of his own award winning online show The Dr. Vibe Show™ for the last decade. He's done over 2000 interviews with people from all over the world. In 2018, The Dr. Vibe Show™ was the recipient of the Innovation Award by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA). Since May 2013, The Dr. Vibe Show™ is the first and only online show to be regularly featured on the popular U.S. based men’s website The Good Men Project.
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