Childhood is an impressionable stage and positive role models are essential for young boys to emulate. Fathers are the first male figures that boys interact with and eventually use as a reference point on how to act as a man. However, in 2012, 24 percent of American children under the age of 18 did not live with their biological fathers. Single mothers, therefore, fill both paternal and maternal capacities. Alternatively, uncles, male teachers and friends could act as role models for young boys.
Lead by example. Children learn by imitating the actions of people around them. For example, young boys learn how to treat women from watching their fathers interact with their mothers. It causes confusion when disparities exist between actions and words. Modeling a generous or honest character in your child requires you to participate in charitable events, donate clothes or toys, attend fundraisers and practice honesty.
Acknowledge mistakes and apologize. Deceptive stereo types set by society such as the acknowledgment of mistakes is perceived as weakness. It therefore makes it difficult for men to apologize or admit to failing. Young boys need to understand mistakes happen and that they should take responsibility. According to Dr. Robyn Silverman, by observing you admit and apologize for your mistakes, your child learns that expression of regret through an apology is in fact a show of strength.
Respect not fear. Many children grow up respecting their parents out of fear of letting them down and disappointing them rather than respecting them out of love, according to child psychologist Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D. At times young boys incorporate this into their adult lives demanding respect rather than earning it. During interactions with your child, you should strive to teach a two-way form of respect. Showing your child respect towards his opinions and thoughts teaches him to appreciate and respect others.
Think out loud. A difficult moral situation provides an opportunity for role models to teach your child about making right choices. It enables him to see the step by step plan adults use in handling difficult situations. Watching you practicing restraint in an argument, weighing the pros and cons and finally reaching a decision, helps train boys in the skill of making good decisions. (See reference 3)
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