When I saw the movie Jaws for the first time, it made me afraid of being in ocean water. Well, I always was leery of it, but the movie definitely solidified my opinion. Even now, I never go in too far. Although the shark scenes were unnerving, they weren’t the ones that left the biggest impression on me. There is a wonderful moment between Sheriff Brody and his son at the dinner table.The most powerful role models for children sit across from them at the dinner table.
As his wife clears plates off of the table, Brody sits staring off into the distance, clearly deep in thought. He doesn’t notice his young son watching his every move from a foot away. When he takes a drink, his son takes a drink. When he folds his hands, his son folds his hands. Finally, he sees his son mirroring him. He starts to playfully make movements and faces for his son to copy, ending with a kiss. The most powerful role models for children sit across from them at the dinner table. It’s you. Are you wondering how to be a role model to your kids? Here are 10 ways.
1. Healthy Living
When we eat properly and exercise regularly, not only does it improve our own lives, but it sets the example for our children. Childhood obesity can lead to depression and disease. This is not to say a parent needs to go overboard, but every reputable expert will tell you that moderation is the key in diet as well as exercise. Keep yourself inside the healthy range for where you are in life.
Apply whatever cliché you choose here, but you certainly can teach old dogs new tricks. Self-improvement should always be on our minds. Try new experiences and broaden your horizons. This teaches our children to never stop growing. There’s always something new to learn in this life. Try to learn something new every day. When thinking about how to be a role model, start with self-improvement.
Make it a regular habit to get out in your community with your family and volunteer your time and talents. This is one of the best ways to build family unity, teamwork skills, and most of all, generous and serving hearts. Teach your kids to meet the needs of others.
4. Open up Your Life
Do not hide who you are as a person to your children. Share your past experiences when it is appropriate—mistakes and victories. Show them that vulnerability is a virtue that comes from a position of strength. Take your children to work with you and let them see your daily life. Status doesn’t mean a thing, but your attitude and your demeanor mean the world.
Releasing our emotions, whatever they may be, is healthy and reduces stress. How we go about doing that in front of our children, however, has major consequences. As difficult as it can be, it is essential to practice self-control as much as possible in front of our children. Bite your tongue and control that temper. If need be, take it out in the gym or go for a long run.
6. Right Relationships
We have many important relationships and not all of them are going to be pleasant. Maybe there are issues with your parents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, or ex-wife. Forgive and give grace. Seek to be right in your relationships over being right. Make it as hard as possible for anyone to say anything bad about you. Be an initiator and always take personal responsibility first.
7. Respect and Listening
If you want to teach your kids how to be confident, it starts with showing them respect for who they are and listening to their own unique thoughts. This is a tough aspect of leadership, but the best leaders listen carefully and talk far less. Open your mind and your ears to what your children are telling you. They will, in turn, learn to do the same later in life.
8. Positive Attitude
There is plenty of negativity to be found in society today. Do not add to the daily chorus your child experiences. Instead, display a positive and reassuring attitude and optimism.
9. Goal Setting
Setting goals is important to give us a benchmark of where we are going and the progress we are making. Implementing and achieving those goals are of equal importance. When our kids see us moving along exactly according to plan, it shows them the importance of organization and self-discipline. Help them come up with their own set of goals and praise them when the goals are met.
10. Walk the Talk
The single most important aspect of being your children’s role model is to always say what you mean and mean what you say. Walk the talk. Back up your words with visible and concrete action and be a man of integrity and value. Actions speak volumes. And as Benjamin Franklin pointed out, “Well done is better than well said.”
Sound off: Do you know how to be a role model to your kids? What would you add to the list?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is your greatest role model?”