A child’s first and best teacher will always be their parents. As a society, we have developed numerous other ways to help share the responsibility of raising our children correctly. We have schools and activities, childcare, and even several professions available to help children get the support and education that they need to become good and successful human beings. Still, a child learns most from the people that they spend the most time with: their parents.
Every minute that your child is with you, you are teaching them lessons that you may not even be aware of. This starts from the moment of your child’s birth. It may even begin before as some studies have shown that children in the womb respond to outside stimuli.
Once you know that you are a role model, it is important to strive to be a good one. You will want to lay the best foundation that you can for your child. There are a lot of things that you may want your child to learn or not learn from you. In fact, there are so many potential things to consider, that you may feel completely overwhelmed. The best way to cope is to remember that all you really need to do is teach your child to be the best person that they can be by trying to do exactly that yourself. No human being is without flaws after all.
There is no way that you can avoid making mistakes when it comes to life, let alone parenting. Your child will learn as much by seeing you fall, and then get back up and keep trying, as they will by seeing you strive. Being your child’s role model is not about succeeding or failing at any one moment, but about creating a cumulative picture for your child to see.
Of course, you can use your role to model specific behaviors for your child as well. If you are trying to teach your child table manners, for example, then you can and should demonstrate those models for them. When you do, they will be more likely to try and mimic you. They will also be more likely to remember the manners you have modeled and to feel that those manners comprise a sort of base level for normal table behaviors. All of these are excellent reasons to remember to use your napkin and keep your own elbows off of the table.
You must remember to be consistent however, as your child will notice if your manners are a pretense for their benefit or a genuine behavior on your part. Your child will be susceptible to picking up your unconsciously demonstrated behaviors as well as the intentional ones. If you are kind and respectful to those around you, your child will learn to mimic your behavior even before they understand it. Your work to be the best possible role model for your child will pay off in the long run.