The saying “do as I say and not as I do” has long been debunked. Children learn by the example their parents provide them. Everything from the little idiosyncrasies parents make to bigger lifestyles like health and wellness to how you spend your money to how you communicate with others is passed on.
We’re all human. So how do we set a good example for our children without feeling like we’re putting on an act all the time? Here are some tips to lead by example when raising your children.
No parent is perfect, and no matter what you do, no child is perfect either. While it is essential to lead by example, there is no end-all-be-all rule to creating the perfect child or keeping your kids safe, because it doesn’t exist. No matter how many times you try to convince your older kids of what you believe, whether it’s explaining why you got a home warranty plan for your shiny new appliances, or why a consistent bedtime matters, sometimes they have to experience things for themselves. The same can be said with your little ones. Just because you show them healthy eating habits, that doesn’t mean they will always choose carrots over cake.
Think Before Your Act
If you’re struggling to figure out what is and is not ok when creating a positive example for your kids, the best strategy is to think before you act. If you are ready to make an outburst at the grocery store because someone cut you in line, think about how you really want to respond to the situation at hand. That doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t do something in that given situation. That means to consider what your next action is wisely.
Try “Watching Yourself”
Without judgement, think about a time you saw another person acting out of line in front of their children. Now try thinking about whether or not you’ve ever acted in a similar way in front of your kids. It’s important to be realistic with yourself, taking a step back every once in a while and asking the question, “What would I think if I was watching myself as an outsider?”
Consider Your Own Upbringing
No parent is perfect, and you can probably think of a few things you would have changed about your own upbringing. Instead of pointing the finger at your parents for everything they did wrong, take the opportunity to intentionally parent your children differently. Additionally, take a moment to tell your parents that you appreciate the job they did in raising you, even if it wasn’t perfect. Now that you’re a parent yourself, you understand that your parents did the best they could with what they had and what they knew to do.
Give Yourself A Break…Seriously!
You are going to make mistakes. You’re going to feel overwhelmed sometimes. You’re going to question everything you do and wonder whether or not it was the right thing to do. And guess what? Sometimes your decisions may not be perfect, and that’s ok! Give yourself a break. Also, be sure to literally give yourself a break. Call a babysitter, and get out. Maybe not all the time, but try doing something for yourself once a week or every other week. Put it on the calendar—your sanity depends on it.