The key to successful parenting is understanding that you are the biggest role model in your child’s life. From a very young age, they will watch closely and model themselves after you, so how you act has a significant impact on their behavior.
Based on my experience as a mom and educator, if you’re already modeling these seven behaviors, you’re doing better than most:
1. You’re generally punctual.
If you can’t make the appointment, at least call or text to let the other person know. It’s common courtesy, and it’s about being willing to see the situation from the other person’s perspective.
Punctuality shows respect for people’s time. Being habitually late shows the opposite. This is something I always stress to my students, as well as to my kids and grandkids.
2. You have a healthy relationship with technology.
And modeling this behavior isn’t just bad for kids who need to concentrate on their homework. A 2022 study found that young children whose mothers reported higher phone usage had more trouble recovering from emotional stress.
3. You have a healthy relationship with food.
What do your general eating habits look like? Taking care of your health is the best way to teach your kids to do the same.
In my family, my grandkids learned to read food labels early, and they know to avoid processed junk food. In my classes, students know that I confiscate soda. No exceptions! Their health is important to me because I care about them as human beings.
4. You prioritize family.
Even in divorced households, parents should model collaboration and cooperation. Prioritizing family also means sharing experiences, good and bad. This teaches kids how to cope with whatever life throws at them.
One of the best ways to teach the importance of family is to have fun together. The more positive experiences, the more support the child feels. It can be just playing a board game, or going to the park, or jumping on a trampoline together.
5. You don’t lie to your kids.
I think all parents lie to their children at times. We say things like, “I don’t think the ice cream store is open now.” After a while, kids catch on. But not all types of lies are harmful. It’s the lies about significant issues that create a lack of trust.
Telling your child that no one else is going to the show is a big problem when they find out that everyone else went to the show. Trust is the foundation of all relationships, and the last thing you want to do is break that.
6. You don’t lose your temper.
We all yell at some point. But are you inadvertently teaching your children that yelling is an acceptable way of communicating? Do you curse but get mad when your kids use foul language?
It does no good to fake your emotions, but it would help to realize that anger doesn’t make things better. It’s a choice and way of life that we’d like our children to avoid.
7. You’re willing to admit when you’re wrong.
We all talk about kindness and forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean we really know how to practice them.
In all my decades of teaching, I’ve learned to forgive my students no matter what. That doesn’t mean no punishments, but it does mean that I always give them a chance to make something right.
Though it’s painful to admit when I’m wrong, I’ve found that it’s less painful than trying to cover up a mistake I’ve made. I’m always learning and growing, and I want to model that for the next generations.
Esther Wojcicki is an educator, journalist, and bestselling author of “How to Raise Successful People.” She is also the co-founder of Tract.app and the chief parenting office at Sesh. Follow her on Twitter @EstherWojcicki.
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