Look & Learn: Setting an Example

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magine this: You’re working in the kitchen and notice your usually rambunctious household is quiet. You venture through the house to find your child playing in their room – sitting quietly reading to their dolls, cooking pretend meals or even building something. You haven’t taught them the things they are doing; and yet, they are imitating your actions perfectly.

As parents, we are always being watched. By society, yes; but more importantly, by our children. From a young age, our children watch our behaviors and begin to mimic what they see. Barbara Kaiser, co-author of Challenging Behavior in Young Children: Understanding, Preventing and Responding Effectively says that for children, actions speak louder than words. “Research shows that 85 to 90 percent of your message is not what you say but how you say it.”

Whether we realize it or not, we lead by example every day. Instead of telling our kids what to do, we need to show them how to behave. How we act sets the standard for their actions. Here are a few ways to keep ourselves in check:



It seems simple, doesn’t it?  We are told this ‘golden rule’ from a young age, but as we get older, often forget its importance. Be kind to those who don’t deserve it. Give respect to those who show none to you. Being the bigger person can be difficult, but by treating others how you want to be treated, you show your child the impact that your positive actions can have on negative situations.



We stress the importance of being kind to our kids. But stop and think of the last time someone passed you on the street and you did not say hello, or when you saw an old acquaintance at a coffee shop and did not stop to catch up. Our world moves so quickly, and we often lose sight of opportunities to connect with others. Be intentional about these moments, and take time to acknowledge one another. Show your child that simple words and interactions can have a long lasting effect.



Technology is literally at our fingertips and we can find nearly anything online. Groceries, clothing, even friendships. Social media has allowed us to make friends across the world, from the comfort of our own home. While having friends online is fine, it can cause us to forget about our real-life friends surrounding us every day. Put your phone down and spend time with people. Play a board game, go to a ball game or help someone with a project.



People often say ‘failure is not an option’ but we have all experienced a situation where this is not true. We all make mistakes or fall short of our goals. The important thing is how we react to those failures. Show your kids that it is ok to miss the mark, but we still need to pursue those dreams. If a situation doesn’t work out, accept the set back, and keep moving forward. Failure is only bad if you allow it to hold you back.



No matter your age, it is easy to find ourselves wanting something. More stylish clothes, the newest smart phone, the list can go on. It is natural to dream of bigger and better, but how often do we miss the great things around us when looking for the next best thing? Your car might be older, but you have one. Your cell phone may not be the latest model, but it still works. Take time to look at what you have and find the good in your life. No matter how big or small, we have blessings all around us.



How often have you gotten after your kids for not making their bed, leaving dirty clothes on the floor, or not putting their dishes in the dishwasher? Now think, when was the last time you did any of those things? We often hold our kids to a standard when it comes to cleaning house, but we need to hold ourselves to that same standard. If we all took a few extra minutes to tidy up throughout the day, everyone would benefit in the long run.


Your children will follow in your footsteps, so make sure the path you are taking is one you want them to go along, as well.



words Lyndsey Akley

photos Jesse Brown Nelson