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How to Model Appropriate Behavior for Children

by Tiffany Raiford

You are your child’s most influential learning tool. What she sees you do is what she considers normal, which means you are teaching her how to behave both appropriately and inappropriately. By carefully watching your actions and words, you can model appropriate behavior for your child so that she doesn’t pick up on your bad habits and make them her own. You may tell her on occasion that you have eyes in the back of your head when she asks how you knew she was misbehaving, but the same can be said for her. She sees everything you do and files it away in her little brain, which means you need to be on your best behavior.

Refrain from hitting, spanking, slapping or abusing your kids or anyone else, according to the Purdue University Provider-Parent Partnerships program. If your child sees you spank his sister when she misbehaves, he may grow up believing that the best way to get his point across when something upsets him is to use physical violence. Find a new way to discipline your children before you teach them that physical violence is acceptable.

Show consistency with your spouse when it comes to punishments and consequences, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. You and your spouse must be on the same page when it comes to punishment. If your daughter pushes another child at school and you tell her that her punishment is no television all weekend and your husband disagrees with you in front of her, you are failing to teach her that parents work together. Instead, you are teaching her that she can pit the two of you against one another to get out of trouble should she need it.

Treat others with kindness and respect, advises the Purdue University Provider-Parent Partnerships Program. If you disagree with your spouse about how to redecorate the house, don’t start yelling at one another about why wood floors are better than tile and how he just doesn’t get it because he’s closed-minded. Instead, show your children that you can disagree respectfully by calmly discussing the pros and cons of your ideas and your concerns with the other’s view of what you want. Then come up with a compromise. Your kids are much more likely to grow up treating others with respect if they see you doing the same thing.

Tip

  • Admit you are wrong when you make a mistake. This helps to teach your child to take responsiblity for his own actions.

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