Good parents know they need to lead by example. When your actions are aligned with what you say, you become a person your children want to follow. When you say one thing but do another, you lose trust, a critical element of effective parenting.
Ten Ways to Lead Your Children by Example
- Take responsibility. When you make a mistake, own up to it. Teach your children mistakes are a natural part of life. Teach them to take responsibility for their mistakes and not to play the blame game. Are you running late because you can’t find your car keys? Don’t blame everyone else in the house for your missing car keys and for running late.
- Be truthful. If you don’t want your kids to be fantastic little liars, don’t tell lies yourself. Don’t make excuses for why you missed an appointment or were late to practice. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.
- Be courageous. Let’s face it- there is nothing more courageous than raising human beings! Let your children see you walk that line.
- Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your children to do the same. It shows them failure is part of the learning process. It teaches children to continually strive for improvement, not perfection.
- Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your family. Teach your children not to give up. When you are having trouble helping your kids with their homework because YOU don’t understand common core, take a deep breath and keep trying. Don’t slam the book shut or throw it across the room 😉
- Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; offer a solution and then ask your children for more. Involve them in the process. Teach your children to be problem solvers.
- Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy conversations. If you want your children to listen to you, you need to listen to them. Stop what you are doing and look them in the eye when they are talking to you. Make them do the same.
- Delegate liberally. Children need to feel valued. Give them age appropriate jobs and expect them to get done. Help them develop ownership and teach them everyone is responsible to maintain the household. Be sure they see their parents equally invested.
- Take care of yourself. Be a role model. Exercise, eat right, don’t work too hard, and make time for yourself. Model it, encourage it, support it! Your children need to see you taking care of yourself before they will value taking care of themselves.
- Take charge. You are the parent. Act like it. Lead by example. Teach them to eat right and care for their bodies. Set firm expectations for your children and follow through with them. They will learn to respect you and themselves by following your expectations.
Keeping It Real
I read a lot of personal development books, and I believe in these principles. Does that mean I follow them all the time? Of course not. I am human and make plenty of mistakes, but I am always striving for improvement (one principle I do follow regularly :).
If you are a parent, you can likely relate to this situation. I needed to take our dog out for a quick walk before heading out for the evening. My 3-year-old insisted on coming with me. I didn’t want her to because I wanted a quick walk. She is easily distracted, very clumsy (like her mama), and super dramatic. Almost everytime we go for a walk, she falls, and then the sky falls. She scrapes her knees,
can’t won’t bear weight on her legs and needs carried home. I have gently cared for these boo-boos dozens of times, carried her heavy little body through the neighborhood, and have patiently told her not to run, be careful, watch where she’s going, etc. On this day, though, I was done. I was tired. I was in a hurry. I told her to stay home, but she came with me anyway (I gave in and didn’t take charge). I told her not to run and to stay on the sidewalk. She ran anyway, with one foot on the sidewalk and one in the grass, and of course she fell. I didn’t have the energy or patience to deal with this one. I left her alone on the side walk crying sobbing. I was trying to keep calm because I really wanted to scream at her for not listening to me for the 6,000th time. Instead of screaming, I walked away. I walked several houses down the street in hopes she would finally get up and follow me. She is pretty stubborn. She did not follow me, but she did get the attention of a few neighbors. Some of my neighbors saw me walking away from my cherub looking 3-year-old in a heap of a mess with tears streaming down her face. I’m surprised they didn’t call children’s services. I ended up dragging her home by her elbow, hobbling on one leg. When we finally got home, I was able to take a deep breath, calm down, and care for her boo-boo.
This clearly wasn’t one of my shining moments. The mommy guilt quickly crept in, and it was ready to ruin our fun plans for the evening. But I am learning to be more mindful, accept the situation for what it is, move on, and promise to do better (not perfect) next time.
We expect our kids to behave properly all the time, even when they are tired, hungry, overstimulated, stressed, etc. In that case, we need to be at the top of our game all the time, even when we are tired, frustrated, running late, etc.
The take home message is children (no matter how big or small) are always watching, always listening and always learning. Be the person you want them to become. Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake and keep getting better. Teach your children to do the same. They will make mistakes. Don’t beat them up. Encourage them to own it and move on.
Parenting is Hard and Courageous Work
It truly does take a village. That village does not exist for everyone today. Most parents don’t have the support of close family members and friends. Many parents are doing this undeniably difficult job all by themselves.
In addition, many parents today are so quick to blame one another. When a child acts up and throws a tantrum at church, on the playground, or in a store, it must be the parents’ fault. When a terrible accident happens, it must be the parents’ fault for allowing it to happen. Do you remember the social media rants when that terrible zoo accident happened last year? That is fear talking. As parents, we have primal instincts to raise good children and to keep them safe. When we see children acting up or hurt in an accident, we are terrified that it could be us. Fear is an uncomfortable feeling, so to avoid the fear, we place blame.
I want to bring the village back! I have created an online community of like minded moms who support each other in this parenting journey. We support each other to create a more natural, healthy and loving environment for our families. We seek guidance, education, and support. When we are scared, we ask for help. We don’t blame or shame. Join our community here.
Being a better parent starts with taking better care of yourself. Are you feeling tired, stressed and generally unwell? Download my guide, From Hot Mess to Hot Mom in 10 Easy Steps to learn some simple habits that can have a profound impact on your health and well-being.
There’s An Oil for That
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