As a child ventures out and experiences the world around him, several influencing factors help shape him into the person he will eventually become. Thankfully, parents still sit at the top of the list of the important and powerful role models in a child’s life. As a parent, you have a few key advantages that other role models and environmental factors do not have.
Since your child came into this world, he has entrusted you to meet his basic needs. Feeding, changing and nurturing him during his early days have all helped establish a foundation of trust, safety and security between the two of you. As a result, your child will look up to you. He believes that you will encourage him and show him the correct way to approach the world. He will count on you to show him which situations, actions and behaviors are appropriate and safe.
The Learning Process
Young children mimic what they see. Mimicry is part of how children master certain skills. If your child sees you doing something or acting a certain way, he is bound to try to do the same. For instance, if he sees you eating healthy foods, he will do the same. When a parent is a smoker, the child might hold up a pencil and pretend he is doing the same. For this reason, you should be conscious of which behaviors you exhibit in your daily life, especially when your child is present.
Quantity of Time
In most cases, especially during the younger years, children are around their parents more than they are around any other person. The quantity of time you spend with your child influences how and what he learns, since you are dictating his exposure to the world. When he learns from a positive role model, this cuts down on the time that he would need to spend learning from other influencing factors. For example, if you are a stay-at-home parent, chances are that he will adopt your mannerisms and look up to you more than he would look up to a person he does not see as often, such as a grandparent.
Superheroes, cartoon characters or any other fictitious people that your child looks up to are, well, not real. You, on the other hand, are real. It is normal for a child to idealize superheroes and the like, but when it comes down to it, the child can relate to you more because you live in this world. As a parent, you make mistakes and deal with real-life situations. Instead of covering up that you have made mistakes, you have an ideal opportunity to show your child how to effectively use problem-solving skills, learn from mistakes and how to communicate effectively.
- Zero to Three: Self Confidence
- New Hanover County Schools: Parents as Role Models for Children’s Behavior
- HealthyChildren.org: Positive Parenting: How To Encourage Good Behavior
- The American Academy of Pediatrics; Introduction to Mentorship: Learn How to Utilize Mentorship Effectively; Daniel A. Rauch, MD, FAAP, FHM
- Parenting Exchange; Parents Are Powerful Role Models for Children; Karen Stephens
- Iowa Department of Education; Being a Role Model for School Wellness: How Parents Can Be Good Role Models?
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images