Recently I found myself watching videos of my son Chance when he was younger. I laughed as I watched how easily he picked up expressions. As he grew, he learned to process what he saw and displayed certain behaviors by watching the things we did. As I sat reminiscing on those videos, moments and memories; I began thinking about the example that I have set for my son through my everyday living. Have I been a good example, I wondered? I couldn’t help but wonder how my attitude and actions have influenced him.
As a mom, it’s so easy for me to be hard on myself. I mean, I realize that the right example is critical, as I am modeling behavioral expectations. It’s important for me to teach him how to learn from his mistakes, but more importantly how to learn from mine.
I do not believe in telling a child “do as I say, and not as I do.” It didn’t work with me, and I certainly don’t want model that type of behavior to Chance. I love the quote from American author Wilfred A. Peterson that says, “our children are watching us live, and what we ARE shouts louder than anything we can say.” Our children are learning by watching….us.
In the sports world, a most valuable player (MVP) award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best-performing player (or players) in an entire league, for a competition, or on a specific team. While used traditionally in professional sports, the term is now also commonly used in other completely unrelated fields such as business, music and now parenting.
As a parent, it is impossible to not be a role model. Your child will see your example – positive or negative as a model for how they are to live their life. If you’re going to be a role model, you may as well be an MVP: Most Valuable Parent.
Being a positive role model requires determination, fore-thought, and most importantly self-control. Being very intentional and transparent about our behaviors is a way to model self-control. For example, I had a very heated conversation with a client about what I thought was unethical behavior. My office is a loft, open to the living room of our home. Chance heard my defensive tone, and raced upstairs to see if I was ok. I told him, “yes I’m fine” and continued with the call. Prior to ending the call, I apologized to the client for being so aggressive, but explained that I am never agreeing to what I deem to be unethical behavior. Minutes later, Chance races upstairs and says, mommy I know they made you upset but I am proud of you for apologizing. I shared with him, that I apologized because I am the master of myself, and even if I am right – I must control myself always.
Vocalize High Standards
Being a positive role model requires repeating your expectations often. Research shows that children build confidence by striving to meet high standards. I was attending a session with my Blog Coach, Elayna and she began telling a story about her daughter giving a talk in church. She said that Eliana, had gotten upset because all the parents were whispering in their child’s ear during the performance and Elayna did not plan to whisper to her, and she was not happy about that. Elayna said she was really taken back, and explained to Eliana that she did not need the whispers. The parents were whispering because those kids did not know how to read their parts. Elayna told Eliana that she was a great reader, and she expected her to do her best always despite what others were doing. It was a great lesson on voicing high standards. Elayna expected Eliana to read, because she could.
Practice What You Preach
Being a positive role model requires us to act on and uphold strong character and values in our daily lives. Children do not learn the values simply by being told about them, they learn by seeing how we conduct our everyday activities. A good example is shouting. One day, my niece and nephew were shouting to one another because they had a disagreement. I realized my mom is a shouter and I tend to shout, so they have associated shouting or raising their voice when in disagreements. It was a result of a learned trait.
You see, we teach our children through our words and deeds. They learn from us, and that is ultimately how you become an MVP! We become MVP’s by sharing our values about the most important things in life, and those values are examples good behavior, character, integrity, and honesty. Why? Because our children are likely to follow our example developing these characteristics as well.
Are you an MVP? Are you living in a way that clearly defines your values to your children? Please share how you demonstrate your MVP status with your children.
I try to demonstrate character through language. I don’t simplify my vocabulary but rather build my children’s by using words they may not understand. I encourage them to ask me what words mean that they don’t know. I also prefer not to use vulgar language. I teach them they can express themselves without such words.
Great tips for every parent. I need to remind myself about modeling on self-control. Thank you so much.