4 Kinds of Behavior to Model for your Kids

The other day we were getting ready for dinner, Kara was hungry and I was trying to get the food on the table, daddy’s phone rang and he answered it and Kara shouted at him “No daddy, not phone time now!” At first I can’t help but laugh, but I saw it – mini me! Not to say that I am always telling my husband that ‘it’s not time for the phone’, but her tone and her way of bossing her daddy around, sounded exactly like me! I have always been bossy since I was a kid and sometimes when as an adult I tend to have bossy tendencies! But right then I saw bossy mini me in my daughter! And I realized it’s not what we tell our kids to do that determines their behavior, it’s what we model for them!

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Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Proverbs 22:6 | MSG

I want to be someone who is pointing my kids in the right way. But the truth is kids especially young ones don’t always do what we say, they do what we do!

They copy us, the good, the bad and the ugly!

So as parent’s, especially of toddlers we need to model how we would like them to behave! There are lots of ways we can model behavior but I chose 4 kinds of behavior that we can model to our kids.

Model how to deal with frustration 

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There will be times when we get frustrated, or annoyed at our husband or our kids. Many times Kara has frustrated me by not listening, running away when I ask her to do something, throwing a tantrum on the supermarket floor, or right now she is going through a phase of keeping food in her mouth and not swallowing it! At those times I need to model how to deal with my frustration. Because yes I am human and I do get frustrated or loose my temper so in those times, I need to model how to calm down with out loosing control and yelling, maybe that means taking deep breaths together or saying “I lost my temper. I’m sorry I’m going to practice counting to 10 next time.”  Or when I feel very frustrated, before I blow. “I’m getting frustrated and need time out so let’s talk in a few minutes, when I have calmed down.” Those times I usually go to the toilet and take a breather, as long as Kara is not in a dangerous situation and can be left alone for a couple of minutes, (not on the supermarket floor obviously!) Sometimes I will read my bible or pray and just refresh my mind before I go out and talk with Kara.
I hope that by showing my children how to deal with frustration when they frustrate me too, they will also learn it’s OK to get frustrated sometimes, everyone does, but it’s how we deal with it that matters.

Model love and forgiveness 

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I also like to model this in my relationship with my husband. How I react when my husband doesn’t live up to my expectations, or leaves his clothes on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink. Or even with more serious disagreements or frustrations we might have with our spouse, how we express that frustration affects our kids.
Sometimes I feel like storming off and slamming the door when l have a fight with my husband, or he disagrees with me over something. But if I do that it is not teaching my daughter how to deal with disagreements or how to forgive and love. Instead I am installing the idea that it’s OK to run away from arguments or when I ask her to do something, or instead of slamming doors, it’s OK to throw toys on the floor in frustration. So rather than storming off, or following my gut instinct, I need to model quick forgiveness with my husband, despite my frustration.
If I’m hard on my husband or hard on myself, I’m not showing my children how to love and forgive easily. I’m teaching them to be hard on others. I need to be quick to say “I’m sorry, that was my fault. I hope you can forgive me”.
The same goes with my kids whenever I get frustrated at Kara, because she did something naughty and I end up shouting at her, I always tell her that I love her and I’m sorry for shouting and ask for her forgiveness. She always says “that’s OK mummy” in her cute voice that makes my heart melt. If I leave it and don’t apologize or ask for forgiveness I’m teaching her that it’s OK to shout like that at people and get away with it. But I want her to learn to give forgiveness just as much as receive it.
By loving and being easy forgivers towards people ourselves, we are teaching them to care for themselves and others rather than be hard on ourselves and those around us.

Model confidence in ourselves and appreciation for others. 

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Sometimes it’s easy to look in the mirror and not like what we see. But if we are always looking in the mirror and telling ourselves I feel fat or ugly today, we are modelling low self esteem. Even if we are telling our kids “you are beautiful”, but not believing it about ourselves, we are not encouraging them to actually appreciate the good things about themselves when they see themselves. God created us in his perfect image, so we should love who God created us to be!
Saying things like “I want to take care of myself so I’m going to eat healthier or exercise” shows them we need to take care of who we are and respect ourselves. The more we model this attitude, the more our kids are also going to grow up respecting themselves and wanting to take care of themselves.
I always tell my daughter “you are gorgeous and mummy is gorgeous too” even if I don’t always feel it. I want my daughter to look at herself in a good way not with low self esteem, because she sees that portrayed in her mother. I often hear her say “I’m beautiful and mummies beautiful, Ted is handsome and Daddies handsome”. 
We need to show our children how to be confident by being confident in ourselves – we can tell them how great they are all day but if we don’t think we ourselves are great or aren’t kind to ourselves they can still get the message they are not good enough.
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The same goes for how I talk about my kids to others. Sometimes I have heard people compliment others babies on how cute they are but when paid similar compliments  towards their own children the reject them.  Or other’s might say “so and so’s daughter is very good at this but my child is terrible.” It can be easy to fall into the trap of praising other’s kids and not our own or comparing our kids to others. But we can’t forget our kids hear how we talk about them. Our harsh critique of them and comparison to others will not only belittle the confidence in themselves but leave way for them to be hard on others too. I often tell other people my babies are so cute or are good at something, without them asking, because I want my kids to hear I am talking about them well and appreciate them.
The same goes for my husband. When we are with other mums it can be easy to complain in front of our kids about our husbands faults, but I try to talk about the great things my husband does, especially in front of my kids, because I want them to know I speak well about them and their dad and that I have appreciation for others.

Model Empathy

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Show your kids how to understand others feelings.
Be empathetic to people rather than being short tempered and impatient. This is a very difficult one for me as I often am impatient with people I don’t know, when they hold up the elevator or walk slowly in front of me. I also need to grow in empathy and understand the people and situations around me. I hope by learning together I can raise them to think about how other people feel.
Rather than getting frustrated at the people cramming in the elevator who really don’t need to use it, and mouthing off my frustration at people who walk too slow or get in the way. I can teach my daughter how to understand people. “Those people look like they need help, why don’t you hold the door open, so they can get in.”
My attitude towards people around me is a major influence on how my children form attitudes towards others. How I care and understand people, is going to be how they care for and understand people.
I also need to be able to show empathy to my daughter. When she is frustrated I need to let her know that I get it and understand and rather than offering her a quick solution she may not want, I need to ask her how I can help! There are lots of ways we can model empathy in our family relationships.
How about you? What kinds of behavior do you like to model you your kids? And how do you model this? Let me know I would love to hear!

4 thoughts on “4 Kinds of Behavior to Model for your Kids

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