The Making of A Model


Healthy parents want their children to surpass them. Biologically we are primed to take this evolutionary initiative to strengthen our genetic codes for the next generation. We achieve this through a variety of parenting techniques that hone our children’s skills and abilities and diminish their weaknesses.

Discipline is one of the most widely used techniques that can be effective in decreasing negative behaviors while positive reinforcement has been a relatively new approach developed by behaviorists that can increase positive behaviors along with overall self-esteem.

While these techniques are quite useful, they can be very tricky to balance. We know as parents that too much negative discipline could leave our children feeling anxious, sad, and constricted. Yet we also know that too little discipline and excess reinforcement can allow our children to act wildly, recklessly, and inconsiderately and develop narcissistic tendencies.

For these reasons it helps to diversify. Much like an investment, we cannot keep all our eggs in one basket. An incredibly effective parenting technique that is a supplement to discipline and reinforcement is modeling.

Modeling allows us to show our children what we value through our actions.

At all times even when we least expect it, our children are observing and watching us to learn about themselves, family dynamics, and the way of the world. There is nothing more powerful than modeling for our children healthy and appropriate behavior based on our own values.

It is important to keep in mind that before we as parents set guidelines for our children, we need to ask ourselves what guidelines do we live by that we are modeling for our children. Before we ask our children to do something, we need to make sure we do it ourselves (with some exceptions).

Here are some areas in which the tool of modeling can be particularly useful.

Technology

Oftentimes parents complain that their children are on their electronics excessively. Research consistently correlates the addictive effects of technology and that is why we as parents feel the need to monitor and limit our children’s use of tablets, iPhones, and general screen time.

In conjunction with setting guidelines for our children, it is quite impactful when we set guidelines for ourselves. Are we on our phones checking texts while our children are telling us about their day? Are we browsing through Facebook, shopping online, or sorting our pictures through dinner time? Children pick up on these habits and learn to develop similar ones; they learn to value what we value.

Our deepest values oftentimes are reflected in the force that propels us to act. So if we feel compelled to check our phones every seven minutes, our children learn that we value our phones so much so that we need to check it that frequently.

To create more of a balance between on and off screen times, we can create a screen time policy for ourselves and our families. We can communicate to our children that during dinner we keep our phones off and in another room. We can also make a policy that before bedtime, all phones need to be charged in the kitchen as studies have proven that screen light interferes with adequate quality sleep. For more ideas on how to create this balance, enjoy this incredibly informative Ted Talk by motivational speaker, author, and consultant Simon Sinek.

Bedtime

When is your bedtime? According to Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen, author of parenting book To Kindle A Soul, the existence and implementation of bedtime for parents can directly affect the existence and implementation of our children’s bedtimes. If our children wake up in the middle of the night and see us staying up late, they get the unspoken message that sleep is just not as important at a certain age. They come to view sleep as less of a health necessity and more of an optional chore.