Six ways of role modeling for our children

Who are our children’s role models?  They are going to imitate others, in fact children learn what is acceptable and not appropriate by watching what others do and say.  First on that list of role models and most important of all is a child’s parents.  As the child gets older though they will be influenced by others beyond their parents including athletes, musicians, those in the movies or television, coaches and religious leaders.  In fact anyone that they get to observe – even politicians who they observe in the news.

With all of these influences, as parents we want to ask ourselves “Who are we surrounding our children with?”  This would include what we are reading, watching, playing and being coached by.  Are they the kind of people with the attitudes we want to display to influence us?  We hope that all of our children have strong role models who possess the qualities that represent the values, morals and ethics that our family and community stand for.

shaving dadFirst though, how can we be a positive role model for our children and for any others that may be observing us – and yes they all are observing us, even if when we do not know when they are watching?  Here are 6 ways we can be a positive role model to our children:

  • Make positive choices and allow your child see & hear you make the choice.  They need to see the process of making choices, and how to work through a problem.
  • Be willing to apologize and admit when you have made a mistake.  This also comes with showing them how you repair the damage done.
  • Demonstrate responsibility by completing tasks, being on time, keeping your promises, setting and completing your goals.
  • Showing the value of others by your attitude, way you speak of others, and showing gratitude when others help you.
  • While our children see us as “parents” it is good for them to see us having other interests and passions. Balancing our life’s roles sets a good example of success for our children.
  • Have them see us as confident as to who we are and still working on constant and never ending improvement.

Now the question is – beyond their parents – who else does your child view as a role model?  Are they demonstrating the kind of attitude and character that you would like to see you children grow to being?  Remember – Surround your self with the kind of person you would like to become.  Who are your role models?

Children showing respect in a restaurant

eating at restaurantAnyone that has been a part of Balanced Life Skills for any length of time has no doubt heard me talk about showing respect in a restaurant.  We have had that discussion so many times, so with respect being our word of the month it is a perfect time to remind our young students of what respect looks like when we are at the dinner table or especially eating out in a public place no matter if it is fine dining or a fast food facility.

We know all of the rules of manners – keeping your mouth closed when you chew, elbows off the table, using your flatware properly, not putting too much in your mouth, napkin in  your lap and the list goes on.  Keeping our voice down, asking for items to be passed to us, using nice words when speaking to our host or waiter, showing appreciation for the food we have been provided.  Not complaining about what is being served, or demanding when being hosted.

The one thing that gets me the most though is showing respect for all at the table and to those dining with us if we are at a restaurant is our ability to stay seated until the appropriate time for leaving the table as a group.  How often I have observed young children allowed to get up before, during and after a meal – running around the table, visiting others at the table, playing on the floor, chasing each other, talking loudly, or even watching a movie on their I-pad without ear phones – all while others are trying to dine in peace and quiet with their loved ones.

This may just be a personal peeve.  But showing respect by sitting respectfully, demonstrating an interest in what is happening at the table, listening to the conversation, taking part when appropriate, and not using electronic devices to entertain is all a part of learning manners in a restaurant or at home at the dinner table.  Respect is the behavior that shows that we value others and property.  In this case, we are showing we value the food we are being served, the people we are with and the rights that others have to enjoy the same with their family and friends.

Respect, the behaviors that we recognize as respect are all based on what we value.  Helping our children and students value people, things and the rights of others is all part of our responsibility as parents and teachers.  In fact, setting a good example is one way of teaching these behaviors.   We start by creating expectations that we live up to in our family.

Respect on the mat – at your martial arts school

bowing300Showing respect in our martial arts class is much like showing respect in our classroom at school.  It begins with showing respect for your instructor.  In line with the eastern manner, we remove our shoes and bow before coming on the mat to practice, and inside our head we say “respect” as a way to remind ourselves of where we are and what we are doing.

Respect on the mat is shown by taking care of the equipment we are using, putting it away properly.  It is also shown by sharing it with our classmates.  In fact being kind to our classmates, addressing them with respect, listening to their comments and using the manners and etiquette of the dojo in all that we do.  When someone new comes to the class, introducing ourselves to them and welcoming them warmly shows respect both for the new classmate and to the school.  Encouraging and ‘cheering’ them for progress shows respect for their efforts.

Listening to the instructor, following directions, using manners, saying Yes sir or Yes ma’am,  not talking when others are talking, not raising our hand when others are talking, practicing at home,  placing our shoes neatly in the cubbies or under the benches so others do not trip are all ways of showing respect.

If we are waiting for our class to begin, sitting quietly on the mat, tying our belt, helping the instructor if asked to,  are ways of showing respect for the class ahead of us and to the instructor.

Finally one more way we can show respect for the martial arts school is to talk about Balanced Life Skills and what you like the most about it to your friends, inviting them to be a part of our efforts to be the best we can be, to be aware, compassionate and respectful.  How have you benefited from what you have learned?  Help your school to be healthy with a full population of students, is a positive way of showing respect for the efforts of the instructors.

If you really enjoy your classes, you may be able to help too by assisting the instructor in class.  Helping to teach a class is rewarding and even if you believe you are not qualified or ready to help – you may be more ready than you think.  How so?  The most important part of teaching is our attitude of respect for others.  Do you have that attitude?  We would love to have your assistance.

How to be a respectful community member

Toyota-Way-SmallWhat steps have you taken to show respect for your community and even the environment?  Each of us after many years have learned that showing respect for the environment begins with the 3 R’s Re-use, Reduce waste and Recycle.  Our environment is just that – our environment.  It is not just the responsibility of others to care for the health of the earth.  It is our responsibility to do our small part to contribute to the bigger picture.  This is not just a one time on Earth Day project that we take on.  It is an everyday responsibility.  

Simple things like not throwing trash on the ground to staying on walkway paths all show respect for the efforts of others and ourselves.  Are we wasteful with our food or belongings or do we show respect for the earth by finding ways to reuse items or at best to reduce our consumption.  For most of us living in the American society, our consumption outweighs most of the world many times over.  Could we reduce?

Showing respect for our community also is shown by being a part of the community, helping to resolve problems and make our community a better place.  One way would be by taking part in the conversation – not just sitting back seeing what happens and complaining about how bad things are.  Speaking up, taking part in the election process and doing so in a respectful manner – listening to others, understanding where they are coming from and finding ways to compromise and work together to make our world a better place.  There may be times that we have to make changes in our self, recognize where we are mistaken and acknowledge our mistakes.  Taking these steps make us a valuable part of our community and when we are valued by others – respectful behavior is soon to follow.  Showing respect to each other is a great beginning step in creating a culture of peace in our family, schools, community and the world. 

Showing respect in school

greetingThe one thing that brings the greatest amount of angst or embarrassment to a parent is when their child shows a lack of respect in a public place – where others are able to observe the behavior.  Disrespect can be shown in many different ways in different forums – really by anyone.  Lets talk about showing respect in our community starting with school.

How do we show respect when we are in school?  It may begin with how we treat the teachers, classmates and even the support personnel in the school.  Of course we expect that our children demonstrate respectful behavior towards the teacher.  What does that look like?  Following the directions given, doing work quietly without disruption to the class.  It may also include see what additional help we might be able to give the teacher – running errands, cleaning up after ourselves and others, speaking to them as if we value their efforts.  As a side note if teachers would like to have respect shown towards them, then they also must show this same respect to the class, by being well prepared, addressing them without sarcasm, providing their expectations in a clear and reasonable manner.

What about our classmates?  How do we show respect for them?  When they are answering a question are we listening closely or are we wildly shaking our hand in the air because we want to talk.  Respectful behavior would be to put our hand down and listen in a manner that shows that we value what they have to say (even if it is not the “correct” answer).

When taking a quiz or test, being sure that we answer our own questions and not be looking to others to help us on a test (cheating).  Being fair to others is a way of showing respect.  This is true even on the playground or in the cafeteria.  Respect can be shown by being kind to each other, even if they are not a part of our closest acquaintances.

Continuing this thought about school – are we careful with the equipment in the classroom?  Treating books, the media room equipment, the chairs and desks with the utmost care, knowing that others need to have use of this equipment is a way of showing respect for the property that does not belong to us, but that we have been invited to use while we are in the classroom.

This sort of culture in the classroom and school really begins by working on this at home and reemphasizing it as our children go to school.  Even teachers who show respect to their students will find that the students will return the respect.  Working on this culture will  have its rewards in the community – not just at schools but also at restaurants, grocery stores, museums, and other public venues.