A recent blog published in the Voice of Guanacaste, written by Cesar Rodriguez Barrantes, stressed one of the most crucial aspects of raising children: teaching by example. “Learning is an omnipresent phenomenon, which is to say, the opportunity to learn is present everywhere and at every moment. That makes me believe that true education has more to do with attitudes and character than mere information. True education happens at home and in community life, not necessarily at school.” In this quote from his article, Barrantes points out that the moral qualities and traits in adults weigh in far more significantly than simply the learning that happens within the confines of the classroom.
His point is a critical one, especially at this moment in time, when as a role model, caregiver, parent, or adult in your community, your behavior, actions, guidance and words are the most potent and influential forces on a child’s character development, attitudes, interests and future success. Home and community are the primary environments in which a child’s potential and personality develop and grow. An ideal home/community atmosphere is one that is nurturing, communicative, open, positive, and not void of dealing with the challenges of life. When the setbacks, disappointments, frustration and grief arise, choosing to handle these situations with care, love and support teaches children to cope most effectively with stress and loss.
Because children identify strongly with their role models and parents, the attitudes and values of the adults in their lives truly matter. The goal is not to be a perfect role model or parent, but rather by actively choosing to be a positive influence in a child’s life, younger generations learn how to be successful in life.
Here are five ways to be a potent role- model in your child’s or any child’s life.
Be Humble: Even in the best possible scenario, mistakes will be made, and when this is the case, the act of showing a child humility is important through apology and teaching children by using the “repair method.” For example, by saying something like, “I realized the other day when I raised my voice at you in the car, I made a mistake and would have rather shown more patience and calm by teaching you to make a different choice than the one you did.” Then by sharing your ideas about what might have been a better choice and demonstrating a form of love or affection such as a hug or even a smile, you might as well be a hero.
Spend Quality Time With the Children in Your Life: As a parent or role model, make a point to put a special father/son, mother/daughter, aunt/niece, etc. play date on the calendar and during this time ask questions, listen, pay attention, show your support and tell this child how important this time is for you.
Follow Through: To raise a trustworthy child, it’s critical to be a trustworthy adult. When you make a promise, follow through and remember that your words have incredible power with children.
Share Your Ancestry and Culture: Sharing stories, food, music, photos and traditions fosters an appreciation of family history, roots and connection to the past and to others in the family and community.
Give Back: Show your child the importance of giving to others who are in need, whether it’s volunteering with seniors in the community or helping out at your child’s school. This is an ultimate act of leading by example.