Have you ever heard,

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,”


“He’s a chip off the old block,”


“Like mother like daughter?”

Common knowledge, parents influence their children’s development and personality. Whether we want to admit it or not,  parents are a child’s most influential role model. As parents, we spend more time with our children than any other adult.  We model to our children our values, as well as our likes/dislikes. The children pick up our good habits and our bad habits. Children are like sponges – they will soak up everything around them!

Role modeling can be an effective parenting tool. It is powerful opportunity that we (as parents) should use to our advantage! Being a positive role model for your children requires thinking ahead and self control. While our society talks alot about disciplining our children, we as parents need to put equal importance on disciplining ourselves. When we become destructive in our own lives, our children will also follow suite.  For example, I imagine it’s very easy to say, “Don’t hit when you’re angry” or “Don’t drink and drive,” or “Don’t skip class.”  On the other hand it takes more effort (and self discipline) for parents to practice what they are preaching by having appropriate ways of dealing with our own anger, not getting in the car after drinking or taking off a day at work claiming they are sick when we really just needing a day off.   Children look to their parents to set the example, they see right through you when you say one thing and do another. Why is it bad when they do it too?

Some examples of how to be a positive Role Model for your children:

  • If you’re wanting your teenager to spend more time at home with the family, that means, as a parent, you too should also be spending time with your family by not spending too much time with friends or working a lot of overtime. Is there a possibility of moving your schedule around to spend time at home when your teens are at home?
  • If you are asking your elementary children to drink milk or water with dinner because it’s a healthy alternative to sodas or fruit juices, you should be doing the same.
  • If you’re asking your children to listen to your words when you speak, it’s imperative for you to also turn off the TV, put the cell phone down, turn away from the computer to face your child and listen to whatever concern they have at the moment or how their day is going thus far.
I challenge parents to look at a behavior they dislike, and see what they can role model differently!

Thanks for reading!

Best Wishes,

Jennie Wilson is a child and adolescent therapist. She holds the credentials of a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor