Leading By Example When It Comes To Your Child
One common expression that you probably hear a lot when talking about children, especially younger ones, is that they’re “like a sponge“ This references the fact that young children are constantly learning how to act and what to do from what they see around them, and no one’s more likely to spend more time around them than you, their parents. Chances are that you can probably think of a ton of moments off the top of your head where you saw your child imitating something you said or did. Sometimes it’s charming, other times it can be embarrassing. But how do you go about leading by example the right way?
One thing you may want to take a closer look at his how conscious you are about the nature of your interactions, whether it’s with the child themselves or with other people with them present. Something that you may do in the heat of the moment, like swearing, name-calling, or even something as simple as sticking your finger in their face, may be something that gets picked up later on. Remember, children don’t have the frame of reference that we do when it comes to what is right and wrong at younger ages. Make sure that your discipline comes from a place of logic and not of emotion so your child can understand exactly what they’ve done wrong and why it was wrong.
Another important area where you want to start leading by example early is when it comes to health and habits. When it comes to things like what to eat or how much physical activity a child gets, in many ways, not only do they learn from their parents, but they are essentially at the mercy of their parent’s own habits.
A great example of this is oral hygiene. According to Dr. Mileidis Pena Marro of Truedent Family Dentistry in Miami, FL, “It’s always a good idea to prepare your child in advance for the visit and if you have any fears or hesitation about going to the dentist, do your best to avoid relaying this to your child. You can read books about visiting a dentist with your child, talk about your own positive dental experiences and let him know what to expect at his first visit.” She adds a few tips to help prevent childhood tooth decay:
“1. Encourage regular rinsing, flossing and brushing.
2. Serve treats directly after meals.
3. Regularly observe what your child is drinking and eating.
4. Provide nutritious snacks.
5. Avoid serving sticky foods.
6. Limit the number of snack times.”
Despite the fact that information like this is readily available to help your children keep their teeth healthy, it doesn’t always end this way. Roughly 8% of children from ages 6 to 11 have untreated cavities or tooth decay. There are a number of reasons that this takes place. In some cases, it may be the cost of dental care, as low-income families generally struggle with it. In other cases, though, it may be a case of a parent not being able to properly exhibit good dental hygiene on a regular basis. In some cases, they may have a reticence towards dentists or a predilection to sweets. It’s an uphill battle for a child to learn how to take care of their teeth in such circumstances. This is a case in many households where a failure to lead by example can lead to consequences later. Similar principles apply to things like healthy dieting
or sleep habits.
Later in life, as a teen, your role may change. Rather than leading by example directly, you may be doing more and help and guide your child to manage situations themselves, available for support. But in many cases, the stage for these is set earlier on in life.
To close the conversation, let’s make it clear that being a good example to your child doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to make mistakes. In fact, learning how to properly handle such a situation and move on is an essential part of anyone’s emotional development. However, it’s essential that when you do so, you’re willing to take to time to explain why what you did was wrong and how you can improve. The ethos of “do as I say, not as I do,” only works for a child if you start doing what you say later.