Some parenting techniques are direct: no doubt the things we tell our kids to do or not to do, how to behave and so on influence them greatly. As parents we provide guidelines for their day-to-day and beyond. But so much of what they learn is in fact indirect – the messages they receive by watching us (and other people close to them) behave.

In that sense, good parenting has a lot to do with being good role models. If you show, not tell, your kids the right way to behave, you will help them grow up to be kind, thoughtful, intelligent people. Here are 3 things that make a positive role model.


#1 Respect authority

As adults we can grasp the complexities of reality and decide for ourselves which rules we obey and when it’s OK to ‘cheat’ a little bit. But children don’t have that ability yet, and when they see us disrespect the rules, it sends them a problematic message.

It’s important to set an example by following the rules and even explaining them as you go, even if it means parking a little farther when picking them up, for instance. There will be plenty of time to discuss civil disobedience when they’re older.

#2 Take responsibility

It’s in the little things. Don’t promise things you can’t deliver, admit it when you’re wrong, own your mistakes and apologize. Show your little ones that it’s OK to make mistakes, and the important thing is how you handle things once you realize you’re in the wrong.

At the same time, it’s also about going the extra mile – offer to help without being asked, take on challenges and do it with a smile. Help the kids understand that being thoughtful is not a chore (and it can even be very satisfying and make them happy.)

#3 Don’t be judgmental

This might be the toughest tip yet. Us adults can get so cynical sometimes, and so quick to judge, even as a joke. Passing random judgment might not seem so bad, but remember, that’s because you know when, how and in what context to do so. Kids don’t have that ability yet!

Try to be accepting of everyone. It’s ok (and sometimes even a good idea) to criticize certain actions and things people say in order to develop critical thinking and challenge what you believe is wrong in the world. But there’s a world of difference between criticizing someone’s unfair behavior to making fun of how they dress or how they choose to live their lives.

What are the things that matter most to you when it comes to being a role model?

Share your thoughts in the comments!