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SAFE HARBOR #4: Examples of Excellence

Be a positive role model:

  • Make responsible choices as parents.
  • Give respect to get respect.
  • Help your child manage strong emotions.

Why is it important for parents to be positive role models?

A parent’s words and actions are watched very closely by their children, and they make strong impressions on children.

Children who have good role models are much more likely to make positive decisions and choices.

By setting good examples, parents show children what being an adult really means, including being responsible and making healthy decisions.

By modeling good listening skills, responsibility, respect, and self-control, parents help their children learn the tools that promote happy and healthy living.

Make responsible choices as parents. Your child observes how you handle responsibility, how you cope with challenge, how you make decisions, and how you are influenced by or influence others. Behave responsibly, and your child will notice and learn to do the same. Make it clear that the reason you are against underage drinking is because children face special risks when they drink alcohol.

Give respect to get respect. Children learn how to give and get respect by watching their parents and other adults in their lives give and get respect. A child who knows how to give and get respect will have an easier time building relationships with others. Another result is that the child learns self-respect, which helps in the struggle against bad influences and negative peer pressure.

Help your child manage strong emotions. Children moving into the teen years must cope with their developing bodies and their expanding social world. This transition can raise emotions to new levels and bring about a lot of confusion, frustration, and anxiety. Strong emotions can be acted out in negative ways through physical and verbal violence, antisocial behavior, and addictions. Strong emotions also can be acted out in positive ways through peaceful problem-solving and stress-reducing activities. You can teach your child how to manage strong emotions through your own example. You also can help your child deal with emotions by listening, being there for them, helping them work out solutions, and, most of all, letting your child know he or she is loved.

When you are not an example of excellence …

You can try to be a good role model for your child, but you will fail now and then. These moments of failure can give you the chance to model other important behaviors:

Be aware of when your behavior falls short of what you would like it to be. Show your child that you have standards that you try to meet and that you watch yourself to make sure that you live by those standards.

Talk about your shortcomings. Admit your weaknesses and talk about how you are trying to overcome them.

Apologize. Saying “I’m sorry” is one of the best skills you can model for your child.

Make amends. When you have hurt, offended, or unfairly treated someone, show that you accept the consequences and do what you can to repair the harm.

Try harder. It takes effort to build and sustain good character. When you make that effort, your child will see it and possibly do the same.