Parents as Role Models for Children’s Behavior

by Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent
New Hanover County Schools

One of the most powerful skills children possess is their ability to observe. This ability has powerful implications for each of us as parents. All research studies that I have read indicate that children want to model the behaviors of their parents. This places a major responsibility on a parent. When a child is born, we need to be constantly reminded that he or she models their behavior after the male and female role models in their life.
Recognizing the magnitude of this parental responsibility, and with 2011 signifying a new year with a new beginning, I thought it might be appropriate to ask a few questions about how we, as adults, serve as role models for our children. So, let me begin by asking:
1. When you provide your child a response to a question or a
statement he or she makes, do you respond in a positive or negative tone of voice? Children pick up on verbal cues.
If they see positive responses to another person, they want to emulate it. If they see a negative response, they will do the same. Where do you stand in how you respond to your child?
2. When you talk about another person, is it in a negative or
positive manner? If a parent gossips about a person, then it is highly likely that the child will demonstrate that same behavior. If a child hears a parent speak positively about a person, he or she is more likely to develop a positive attitude about people. Are your comments about other adults more about their positive attributes or their negative ones?
3. When you have a disagreement with another person, do you
attack the other person or do you discuss how you are working to resolve your differences? Your response, through the eyes of and ears of a child, speaks loudly to them about how to resolve conflicts. How do you go about resolving conflicts?
I have asked these questions not to be negative, but to illustrate that everything we do as parents is observed by our children. We may not admit it or know it, but it is. The bottom line, as my mother always said to me, is your child learns how to respond to others in his life by the way we act. How true this is!
Our behavior as adults carries over to the actions of our children in school. Let us all resolve in 2011 to be positive role models worthy of emulation in all that we do.

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