There are loads of good habits for your children to learn, but that means you have to teach them. One of the best ways to get your kids to learn these things is to model them each and every day. Kids absorb vast amounts of knowledge simply by observing the world around them. So it follows that the way you act is the way they’re going to act. I know that can be scary, and the occasional slip up is sure to happen, but if you show off good habits for your children, they’ll likely follow suit.
1. Good Manners
One of the best good habits for your children is good manners. Nothing makes me more upset than the sense of entitlement that many kids these days seem to have. I always tell my own kids that they don’t have a right to anything – they have to use their good manners to get what they want. That means saying “please” and “thank-you” at all times, holding the door for others and being polite to those around them. I ensure that they learn these skills by doing them myself.
This is a big one in my family. I want my kids to learn to take responsibility for their own actions and belongings so I make absolutely sure I do the same. For example, everyone must be responsible for their own dirty dishes and dirty laundry, they must each finish their homework and put their toys away when they’re done. It doesn’t always happen without a reminder, but the best way to make sure they’re getting it done is to make sure I clean up my own things and take care of my work obligations.
3. Healthy Eating
With so many kids weighing in the overweight or obese category, it’s up to parents to keep their children healthy. The best way to do this? Show them. You can do this by eating nutritious foods and skipping unhealthy snacks. I’m not suggesting that you never have a treat, but show your kids that it’s something special that doesn’t happen all the time. By seeing you making the right choices, your kids will learn to do the same.
I know as well as the next parent how hard it can be to fit in exercise on a regular basis. However, I try to make it a priority so my kids see it as a way of life instead of something they have to get done. I lift weights while we watch television and a good majority of the time, they get up and do the same. Even my preschooler can lift a one-pound weight a few times. I also try to play active games such as basketball or Frisbee with them whenever I can. That way I’m modeling healthy habits while also getting to spend some quality time with my kids.
I think it’s so important for kids to grow up in a world where they have empathy for those around them. That’s why I try to see things from everyone’s point of view and talk with my kids about what others might be feeling. For example, we ran into a homeless man who needed a couple bucks to call his family out of state. He told us this then walked away. My kids pooled their resources and came up with several dollars that they gave to him. Not only were they doing a good deed, but they had the chance to think through how that man must of felt because he needed to talk to his family, but couldn’t.
Everyone deserves kindness, even the crotchety old lady next door who yells at my kids for coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. I show them that yes, we can be upset with her and not like her very much, but we don’t get to call her names or sneak over and decorate her driveway when she’s not home. If I call her names or give her dirty looks, they aren’t learning kindness.
No, I never go without a shower or brushing my teeth, but if my kids don’t see me doing it, they don’t know that. And kids aren’t well known for their hygiene skills, so letting them see that I brush twice a day, comb my hair, wear deodorant and get ready for a shower goes a long way toward making it part of the daily routine.
What do you model for your kids? Do you think it changes the way they think and behave?