Children need role models to become emotionally mature and culturally enriched human beings. Having a strong role model gives a child a sense of security and comfort that her life has purpose, which keeps her away from risky behaviour when she grows to be a teen. Making sure that a child has a role model is important through her formative toddler years and continues to affect her when she becomes a married adult. Role models significantly influence children's futures, and they keep them on the path to success.
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Encourage children to stay in school to gain the skills necessary to succeed. Writer for Mississippi State University Keryn Page says, "Positive adult role models decrease the chances a student will drop out of high school." Parents and other community members who stay engaged in a child's life teach that child the value of an education and that school is a safe place to express oneself. Role models demonstrate that attending school gives children a group of friends and extra-curricular activities, which helps children enjoy school. They motivate children that dropping out of school is not an option for people who want to become someone, and they motivate them to improve their understanding of the world by staying in school.
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Promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. MyPyramid provides ten tips for being a child's healthy role model. For instance, "Walk, run and play with your child---instead of sitting on the sidelines... Try new foods yourself." Joining a child in healthy activities teaches her that adults practice what they preach, and it helps her respect adults for making strong decisions. Adults who nag children to be healthy can come off as condescending, and they might be met with rebellion. Taking part in a healthy activity shows a child that the healthy behaviour is normal, and it is positive pressure that convinces a child to be healthy.
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Provide a child with positive role models to shelter her from negative influences. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's National Mental Health Information Center, "Warm family relationships protect children from violence and many other risky behaviours." Teaching children that violence and risky behaviours are not acceptable makes a difference in their choices. Knowing that someone they respect stands up against risky behaviour shows them that they should make similar decisions.
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Maintain a strong marriage to help a child's future. According to freelance writer Heather Long, "Children benefit from their parents interactions as a couple. They benefit from the existence of mutual love and respect. They benefit from the kindness and the compassion they witness. They even benefit from the problems that you have as a couple and your efforts to repair your relationship." A loving household teaches a child that she comes from a happy home and that relationships take maintenance. Coming from a household with a strong marriage gives a child skills that sustain her through her own marriage by demonstrating that she must treat a significant other with the same respect that she witnessed in her home.
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Start filling children's lives with role models from a young age. According to Center for Child Well-being, "By 12 months, your baby will try to copy what she sees others doing. From the tone of your voice, to the foods you eat, to how you brush your teeth, your baby will try to imitate everything you do... Habits she forms at an early age are more likely to stick with her as she gets older." Toddlers aged two to three years can be particularly difficult to discipline. They begin to learn the meaning of the word no, and they love using it. The toddler years are also important for teaching kids meaningful life lessons, and that they must become accustomed to strong habits. Being a role model for certain activities shows toddlers that they should engage in the activity too, and it decreases the likelihood that they will say no by throwing a fit. Role models give toddlers structure during formative years, and they help pave the road to appropriate behaviour later in life.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's National Mental Health Information Center: Parents Be Role Models for Your Children
- Mississippi State University: Positive Role Models Keep Kids in School
- Family: Letters of Love: My Parents; My Role Models
- MyPyramid: Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
- Center for Child Well-being: Teach by Example