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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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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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Respect on the mat – at your martial arts school

bowing300Showing respect in our martial arts class is much like showing respect in our classroom at school.  It begins with showing respect for your instructor.  In line with the eastern manner, we remove our shoes and bow before coming on the mat to practice, and inside our head we say “respect” as a way to remind ourselves of where we are and what we are doing.

Respect on the mat is shown by taking care of the equipment we are using, putting it away properly.  It is also shown by sharing it with our classmates.  In fact being kind to our classmates, addressing them with respect, listening to their comments and using the manners and etiquette of the dojo in all that we do.  When someone new comes to the class, introducing ourselves to them and welcoming them warmly shows respect both for the new classmate and to the school.  Encouraging and ‘cheering’ them for progress shows respect for their efforts.

Listening to the instructor, following directions, using manners, saying Yes sir or Yes ma’am,  not talking when others are talking, not raising our hand when others are talking, practicing at home,  placing our shoes neatly in the cubbies or under the benches so others do not trip are all ways of showing respect.

If we are waiting for our class to begin, sitting quietly on the mat, tying our belt, helping the instructor if asked to,  are ways of showing respect for the class ahead of us and to the instructor.

Finally one more way we can show respect for the martial arts school is to talk about Balanced Life Skills and what you like the most about it to your friends, inviting them to be a part of our efforts to be the best we can be, to be aware, compassionate and respectful.  How have you benefited from what you have learned?  Help your school to be healthy with a full population of students, is a positive way of showing respect for the efforts of the instructors.

If you really enjoy your classes, you may be able to help too by assisting the instructor in class.  Helping to teach a class is rewarding and even if you believe you are not qualified or ready to help – you may be more ready than you think.  How so?  The most important part of teaching is our attitude of respect for others.  Do you have that attitude?  We would love to have your assistance.

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