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Parents as role models

Posted by on in World Around Kids

A role model is a person who serves as an example by influencing others. Parents are their children's strongest role models and greatest influence on them. Since birth, parents nurture a child and meet his basic needs in his earliest days. This helps establish a foundation of trust, safety and security between parents and the kids. As a result, a child will look up to his parents, believing that they would show him the correct way to approach the world. Children will eventually adopt many of their parents' values and the types of their behaviour .As a parent, it is impossible to not model. Children see their parents as an example - positive or negative - as a pattern the life is to be lived. Amongst several role models,parents sit at the top of the list of the important and powerful role models, as they have a few key advantages that other role models and environmental factors don't have.


Your little one is always watching you...

The children mimic what they see. Mimicry is a part of how children master certain skills. If a child sees us doing something or acting in a certain way, he is bound to try to do the same. A few such areas are:

1. Within a first few days of their life, kids are able to imitate facial expressions.

2. With a mean age of 36 hours of birth, the kids are able to imitate a smile, a frown, a pout, and a wide-open mouth and eyes. The researchers have calculated that the babies have an innate ability to compare an impression they see with their own sense of muscular feed-back from making the movements to match their expressions.

3. At around 8 months , kids will start to copy the movements of their parents / caregivers, when playing pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo, as well as imitating familiar gestures, such as clapping hands together or patting a doll's back.

4. Age 1 marks the beginning of true imitation or imitation with intent when 1-year old understands that the actions he/ she is copying have a significance.

5.  Kids are master imitators. A kid by the age of 14 months is capable of copying every move of parents. If father is doing some work-out, the kid would do so. If mother is talking on phone, the kid would converse beside her. During the crucial year of growth, the 1-year-olds learn a vast array of skills, ranging from language to social skills, by imitating and copying adults.

6.  At around 18 months, infants will begin to imitate simple actions they observe adults doing, such as taking a toy phone out of purse and saying hello or pretending to sweep with child-sized broom.

7.  In a developmental phase lasting up to 2 years of a child, he begins to imitate observed actions. This is an important stage in the development of a child because he begins to think symbolically, associating behaviour with actions.

8.  Often little boys copy their fathers and little girls copy their mothers. However, this gender identity does not usually starts to emerge until about age 3.

9.  Around 2 to 3 years, kids start distinguishing between jokes and mistakes, by imitating their parents. They learn to spot obviously funny behaviour, such as parents playing with a stuffed toy, from about 18 months.

10.  Due to lack of verbal skill, imitation is a toddler's way of communication with the world. As they continue to learn more and more, the imitation connects them to the communicating world.

11.  The kids also imitate behaviour, as they have observed from others.


What you should be aware of...

1.  It is to be kept in mind that there is no such thing as an "ideal family". Every family has problems and everyone makes mistakes. What is more important is the way one handles a situation, when one does make a mistake. Honestly admitting when we are wrong and making amends is a powerful way to model the behaviour we want our kids to adopt.

2.  Irrespective of the age of children, it is important to stay involved. Start early and keep it up, even if an impression is gained that children are not paying attention.

3.  If a parent smokes, a child might hold up a pencil and pretend that he is doing the same. So, a parent has to be conscious of the behaviour being exhibited in daily life, particularly when a child is present. When children see their parents smoke or use alcohol or drugs, they are more likely to do so someday.

4.  Children are sensitive and astute with an uncanny ability to distinguish between adults who only talk a good game and those who play the game by the rules they preach. For example, if we do not want our children lying to get out of going to school, we best not lie about taking a 'sick' day from work. We parents need to put an equal emphasis on self-control and disciplining ourselves, as we put on our children. It is to be realized that the kids respect the adults who walk their talk. Credible adults inspire kids' confidence and admiration.

5.  Folk wisdom is right after all- "seeing is believing ". What kids see they become. So, a display of traits like happiness, consideration, self-respect, diligence & compassion, speaking well of others and enjoying life with friends, helps children pick-up such an attitude.

6.  Parents should display non-aggressive responses to stress and anger management. This provides an ideal opportunity to show your child how to effectively use problem-solving skills, learn from mistakes, and develop effective communication.

7.  During their younger years, children are around their parents more than they are around any other person. So, the quantity of time spent with children influences how and what they learn, since parents are dictating kids' exposure to the world. The children have a tendency to even adopt the mannerisms of their father.

8.  Parents should have an authoritative approach, being firm about limits but also warm and accepting child's needs. Being too authoritarian or too permissive would make children develop an inappropriate behaviour.

9.  Children raised in domestic violence will more likely develop into more hostile and aggressive adults, whereas children raised in a home that handles disagreements through respectful negotiations would likely learn problem solving skills that preclude violence.



1.  Remind child that all people have good and bad qualities and every one can make a mistake.

2.  Encourage your child to become involved in activities that reflect your values, such as religious programmes, athletics, after school programmes.

3.  Give example of the people in your community, who you feel have positive qualities and are a good influence.

4.  Provide support to all family members and communicate in a positive way with each other.

5.  Encourage good use of time, i.e.  Being involved in recreational activities or helping others in community or at home.

6.  Focus attention on child's strengths and positive factors.

7.  Parents who succeed in education tend to have children who meet and even surpass their parents' accomplishments.

8.  Children of happily married parents tend to find the same happiness in adult relationships.

9.  Parents should continue to communicate with their children, stay active in their lives, and take time to share their concerns, so that they feel loved and respected. It is desirable to practice respect and tolerance

so as to provide clear standards of acceptable behaviour, and also to develop fun and engaging family activities, which share and develop the interests of both the parents and the children.

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Guest Saturday, 17 March 2018