The Psychology Behind Setting a Good Example for Your Kids

The Psychology Behind Setting a Good Example for Your Kids | Stratford University

Parenting a child is the most rewarding, but also most challenging job a person can have. Although many people share the responsibility of raising children; from teachers to child care givers, coaches and extended family members, parents are the first and most important influencers for their children. Yet even with the best of intentions, all parents can make mistakes. Parents are so busy these days; working full time jobs; shuffling kids to after school programs; going to sporting events and band concerts; and even attending themselves. It’s as tricky as ever to find time to focus on being a good example for your kids. However, if you want to raise honest, respectful, thoughtful children, the best way is to teach by example.

Model Good Behavior

The best way to teach your child to be the best person they can be is to model that behavior yourself. Teaching life’s lessons comes in the little moments, not big ones. Show your children the importance of following through with commitments, even when we don’t want to go. These little teachable moments come up often; after watching movies or tv shows, reading books, or even after discussing your child’s social interactions at school. Remember the importance of engagement and interaction. Even if your child is at the age where hanging out together is a no-go, stress the importance of your values by having frequent conversations.

Admit Your Mistakes

No one is without fault. Even with the best of intentions, we all make mistakes. We may yell a little too loud, lose our cool, interrupt someone while they are speaking, or even spend too much time on our cell phones. It’s best to own your mistakes, apologize, and learn from it. These mistakes and corrections are more of those little teachable moments. It’s important to remember that children are people too and deserve our respect.

Help Make Good Decisions

At some point, children grow up and need to make their own decisions. Helping them choose how to make the right decisions at a young age, you are setting them up for success when peer pressure or other bad influences come into their life. Help children make good decisions by teaching them to slow down and consider all their options. Talk about the process of making decisions by identifying the options to choose from, decisions to be made as well as possible outcomes.

Value Your Time

A hard lesson we sometimes struggle teaching our children is how to spend our time wisely. Try modeling good behavior by engaging in productive activities, such as gardening, painting, reading or even earning a degree with university programs online. While we all enjoy lounging on the couch watching TV or playing on your phone, if you want to raise bright, productive humans, your time is best spent being that person as well.

Show Respect

Children look to their parents to understand which social behavior is appropriate. If they hear you bad-mouthing a neighbor or family member, what is to stop them from doing the same? Children need to understand that even though people do things that hurt our feelings, we should discuss our feelings with that person directly, rather than talk about them behind their back. If a situation has brought out negative emotions, teach your children to take time to cool off before talking to the person to resolve the issue. Acting out of anger can lead to hurt relationships and poor decisions.

Be Comfortable With Yourself

Most of us were raised to believe that to be a cool, fun person, we need lots of friends and that those friendships should be free from conflict. But teaching our kids to always avoid conflict, only raises children who don’t know how to express their disappointment, embarrassment or frustration about situations. This can even lead to bullying or gossiping to deal with these emotions. Show your kids that people make mistakes, and that it’s important to address your hurt or embarrassed feelings. Try sharing an example of when you were recently embarrassed or frustrated and how you handled the situation.


Stratford University makes it easy for working parents to achieve their career goals while also taking care of life’s responsibilities. Our professional development programs have start dates several time throughout the year, as well as day, night and weekend classes. We even offer online courses to fit anyone’s schedule. What better way to be a positive example for your children than following through with your career ambitions?

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