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Respect for role models to role modeling

how-to-be-a-dad-Role-Model-24-7-365It is funny how we went from talking about respect for ourselves to respect for others and property to who we respect and being a role model.  All of us not only have people we admire, but we are looked up to and admired by others.  Even if we are a child in the family, the younger children look up to the older ones – and they many time pattern themselves after them.  At the very least they want to do everything that the older one does.

In school the younger students look at the older ones and determine for themselves how they should be acting.  In sports or in martial arts classes, those with less experience look up to those with more to determine how much effort it takes to get to a higher level.  Every parent is the ultimate role model for their children, and I reminded the kids and parents this week that children will all grow up and have many of the same habits and ways that their parents have.  Of course there was a groan from many of the kids – even after they had said that their parents were their role model.  But it is true.  How many of us adults find ourselves sounding just like our parents in some way?

The reminder I gave to the kids this week: 

  • When choosing a role model or someone you admire, be careful not to follow blindly.  While they may have some areas of their life that are admirable, there may be other parts that are not.  Always check in with yourself and see if the example they are setting fit with your morals, values and ethics.
  • Knowing that you are a role model – even without knowing for whom – every decision, every behavior, every choice, we should be asking ourselves, ‘is this the way we would want others to behave’.  Is this choice one I would recommend to a person I was mentoring.

These thoughts may even cross the mind of every parent and adult.  This is what makes parenting so difficult and such a heavy responsibility.  Both your own children and other children are watching you, me and others.  Are we making choices and behaving in a manner that we would like to see our children behave now or when they are parents?

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Keep your goals in mind – reduce stress

carrying-a-load-of-stressReduce stress – reduce feelings of stress that result in anger.  Here is another tip in reducing stress.  Know what your mission is – what your goal is – where you are wanting to go and why.  If someone is having an argument with a friend and your goal is to be able to stay friends, you may want to find a way to make peace with them.  You may find a way to compromise, even changing the things that you do that might be annoying to the other person.  This may require looking at the situation from the other persons point of view.

It is very easy for all of us to get so tied up with “life” or “day to day” activities that we forget the beg picture.  The big picture view though will help us to cope with what is seeming to be stressful.  While all of us have different kind of goals – it is important that we do the following:

  • Decide what our goals are for any given situation or acquaintance.
  • Don’t get locked into any one path.  Look at situations with the “what if I tried this” attitude.
  • Be open-minded to possibilities to unlock solutions you have not thought of before.

Knowing what you want and deciding how you can reach them, you may find yourself ignoring distractions more and feeling less stressed.  A psychologist once said, “When you are waist deep in alligators, it is hard to recall your original reason for wanting to drain the swamp.”  When you know your end goal – you may learn to expect to see “alligators” and with the expectation will come less stress.

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Create healthy anti-bullying habits early

photo+(17)Helping your child be “bully – proof” goes in two directions.  Of course we do not want our child to be the target of bullying nor do we want them to be the one who is aggressive toward others.  Our own habits as parents have an impact on our children as to whether they will become aggressive or if they will shrink back and become a target.  Consider the following;

Imagine seeing one child chiding another with saying, “na-na-na-na-”, teasing or just being mean.  I can imagine that they learned to do that from other children, or even their parents teasing them – pushing them beyond good natured teasing into a taunt.  Being aware of how far we go as a parent or seeing this happen and not letting it go is a good start – asking ourselves or them to focus on how such actions might feel to the child on the receiving end of such teasing.  Now they may become obstinate about how the child might feel, but our job is to help them to learn that this does not feel good when it continues for too long of a time.

Just as important as it is to stop negative behavior, it is even more important to encourage positive behavior.  Teaching them to be kind, to show empathy and be fair are all critical skills for good relationships with others.  Teaching empathy may begin by observing others and asking them how do they think the person feels.  They will learn to read the emotions of others by the facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and other signs.  Using real people and television characters are all ways of teaching without it being about them – or personal to them.  You may always refer back to the third party person later when you are talking about a behavior you would like to change in them.

On the other side of the issue is teaching our children to be assertive – learning to use their voice – saying “no” firmly.  I call it using their “bad dog” voice when asking someone to stop doing something that is hurtful, physically or verbally.  Role playing and letting them practice using their voice is key to their ability to do so.  It does not come natural and many children have grown so used to being asked to be quiet – that when asked to be assertive it is very hard for them to do so.
Creating these habits in children should begin at an early age – kindergarten at the least, if they are to avoid being the victim of or become the aggressor.  Giving them these skills, will grow their confidence and feeling good about themselves as they face different situations as they are growing older.

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Six ways of role modeling for our children

Who are our children’s role models?  They are going to imitate others, in fact children learn what is acceptable and not appropriate by watching what others do and say.  First on that list of role models and most important of all is a child’s parents.  As the child gets older though they will be influenced by others beyond their parents including athletes, musicians, those in the movies or television, coaches and religious leaders.  In fact anyone that they get to observe – even politicians who they observe in the news.

With all of these influences, as parents we want to ask ourselves “Who are we surrounding our children with?”  This would include what we are reading, watching, playing and being coached by.  Are they the kind of people with the attitudes we want to display to influence us?  We hope that all of our children have strong role models who possess the qualities that represent the values, morals and ethics that our family and community stand for.

shaving dadFirst though, how can we be a positive role model for our children and for any others that may be observing us – and yes they all are observing us, even if when we do not know when they are watching?  Here are 6 ways we can be a positive role model to our children:

  • Make positive choices and allow your child see & hear you make the choice.  They need to see the process of making choices, and how to work through a problem.
  • Be willing to apologize and admit when you have made a mistake.  This also comes with showing them how you repair the damage done.
  • Demonstrate responsibility by completing tasks, being on time, keeping your promises, setting and completing your goals.
  • Showing the value of others by your attitude, way you speak of others, and showing gratitude when others help you.
  • While our children see us as “parents” it is good for them to see us having other interests and passions. Balancing our life’s roles sets a good example of success for our children.
  • Have them see us as confident as to who we are and still working on constant and never ending improvement.

Now the question is – beyond their parents – who else does your child view as a role model?  Are they demonstrating the kind of attitude and character that you would like to see you children grow to being?  Remember – Surround your self with the kind of person you would like to become.  Who are your role models?

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Children showing respect in a restaurant

eating at restaurantAnyone that has been a part of Balanced Life Skills for any length of time has no doubt heard me talk about showing respect in a restaurant.  We have had that discussion so many times, so with respect being our word of the month it is a perfect time to remind our young students of what respect looks like when we are at the dinner table or especially eating out in a public place no matter if it is fine dining or a fast food facility.

We know all of the rules of manners – keeping your mouth closed when you chew, elbows off the table, using your flatware properly, not putting too much in your mouth, napkin in  your lap and the list goes on.  Keeping our voice down, asking for items to be passed to us, using nice words when speaking to our host or waiter, showing appreciation for the food we have been provided.  Not complaining about what is being served, or demanding when being hosted.

The one thing that gets me the most though is showing respect for all at the table and to those dining with us if we are at a restaurant is our ability to stay seated until the appropriate time for leaving the table as a group.  How often I have observed young children allowed to get up before, during and after a meal – running around the table, visiting others at the table, playing on the floor, chasing each other, talking loudly, or even watching a movie on their I-pad without ear phones – all while others are trying to dine in peace and quiet with their loved ones.

This may just be a personal peeve.  But showing respect by sitting respectfully, demonstrating an interest in what is happening at the table, listening to the conversation, taking part when appropriate, and not using electronic devices to entertain is all a part of learning manners in a restaurant or at home at the dinner table.  Respect is the behavior that shows that we value others and property.  In this case, we are showing we value the food we are being served, the people we are with and the rights that others have to enjoy the same with their family and friends.

Respect, the behaviors that we recognize as respect are all based on what we value.  Helping our children and students value people, things and the rights of others is all part of our responsibility as parents and teachers.  In fact, setting a good example is one way of teaching these behaviors.   We start by creating expectations that we live up to in our family.

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