Setting a good example for your kids is one of the most important efforts you can make as a parent. While providing optimal nutrition, shelter, and education are obviously top priorities as well, children learn primarily by watching and emulating the actions of others. Thus, leading by example is the most effective way to instill positive habits and modes of thinking into your children at a young age. Public behavior and socialization are certainly important, but what you do at home when it’s just you and the kids is what really matters the most.
With that said, here are 15 measures you can take to start setting an excellent example for your kids.
1. Have Solar Panels Installed
Having solar panels installed at your home will give you the opportunity to educate your little ones about the importance of renewable energy and the current environmental problems that the world is facing. Instead of conforming like the vast majority of everyone else in society, you can take the initiative to show your kids that it pays to think outside of the box. If you’ve been thinking about having solar panels installed, you can see if they are available in your area by conducting a simple web search using the terms “solar panel companies Los Angeles” (replace ‘Los Angeles’ with your city’s name).
Semper Solaris, one of the top solar providers in Los Angeles, has noted that many customers will ask them to explain how solar works to their kids while taking breaks during the installation process. This provides an ideal educational experience on some very crucial subject matter. Plus, don’t forget it will also equip your family with access to free energy.
2. Start Recycling
If your family doesn’t already recycle, this is one of the first steps you should take to teach your kids the importance of environmental stewardship. As an added benefit, if you’re a large family then you could probably gain a decent amount of extra cash for the kids’ piggy bank by turning your recyclables into local plants in exchange for monetary compensation. You could also have them help you with a community clean-up project – collecting recyclables from parking lots, parks, roadsides, and sidewalks.
This is one of those generational habits that needs to be started at a young age in order for it to feel normal. Numerous studies and surveys have shown that children whose parents recycle are more likely to continue the family tradition as adults. Showing your kids the connection between recycling and earning money will also help them develop discipline as they collect their recycling money to buy toys and video games.
3. Exercise on a Scheduled Basis
Kids usually want to participate in any kind of physical activity they see going on around them. Try it one day: get up and jump around for a few moments and see if your kid doesn’t do the exact same thing. When your baby starts to become a toddler and is in the “monkey see, monkey do” phase, try to make a point of exercising in front of them on a scheduled basis. If they see that this is a normal part of your everyday routine, they’ll be more likely to develop similar fitness habits for themselves. As they get older, you can teach them about various aspects of fitness such as posture, pacing, breathing techniques, form, range of motion, and other fundamental concepts related to weight lifting and endurance training.
However, be careful not to go overboard with having your kids perform strenuous exercises at a young age, as premature weight lifting can actually stunt bone growth and other development. In fact, teaching your kids not to overdo it is often the most important point to make because their bodies need to be using nutrients building blocks for growth and not as fuel for energy or recovery.
4. Eat Healthier Foods
With such an overwhelming majority of the population living on a diet of processed foods, and with tempting junk foods staring your kids in the face at every grocery store checkout line, it can be difficult to steer your children away from the standard American diet (SAD).
To make matters worse, many cartoons and kids shows portray broccoli and other vegetables as being “gross” or “yucky,” often while making failed attempts to encourage the kids to eat more of them, which is obviously an ineffective approach. If your kids see you eating and drinking delicious salads and smoothies, it’s in their scavenging nature to want to try some.
If need be, consult a dietitian.
5. Watch Documentaries
Watching documentaries with your kids is a great way to expose them to a form of education that they’re not likely to encounter with a standard schooling curriculum. Of course, you’ll need to be careful about not watching documentaries that are graphic or inappropriate for younger audiences in other ways, but with a bit of discretion you can find hundreds of interesting and informative films online.
Watching a documentary feels like fun to kids but it’s really just a more indirect form of education. Essentially, you’re tricking them into loving education because these films are designed to be engaging and entertaining.
6. Plant a Garden
Gardening teaches your kids how to take care of plants and rewards them with nutritious and delicious food that they don’t have to pay a penny for. So, in a way, they’re getting three educational experiences in one – horticulture, nutrition, and frugality. A good parent will always want their kids to eat the healthiest food possible so that they can develop to their full potential and avoid illness.
Gardening gives you the ability to feed your children fully organic, home-grown fruits and vegetables that you know are clean and fresh from the Earth. Since most kids’ parents simply aren’t gardeners, you’ll be making your children part of a very exclusive portion of the population that just so happens to eat better than the rest of the store-fed simpletons.
7. Create Art
Your kids will love to watch you create any kind of art, whether it be drawing with a pencil, painting, or even creating graphic designs on a computer. While some kids can be blatantly honest to the point of insulting your craft, usually you’ll find that your own offspring will compliment your works and be supportive no matter how much of an amateur you are.
Creating art and gradually getting better at your craft will show your kids what hard work and consistency can achieve as they travel with you on your journey to becoming a better painter, sketcher, graphic designer, carpenter, poet, or whatever other kind of artist you wind up being.
8. Make Music
Music is one art forms that most kids are particularly fond of. Studies have shown that children tend to inherit the musical preferences of their parents before encountering the urge to explore their own tastes in their teenage years. Playing an instrument, singing, or producing instrumentals in front of your kids will inspire them to want to follow in your footsteps, which is always the highest honor for any musician or music enthusiast.
If you love music and you want your kids to experience and appreciate your favorite genre the same way you did, you’re the only person who can introduce them to that. Plus, by introducing your kid to great music on a regular basis and giving them the opportunity to play instruments, you could find out that they’re a musical savant, which is a discovery that wouldn’t have been made if you never led by example and gave them the chance to shine.
9. Build or Fix Something
Working on home improvement projects or assembling things in front of your kids is a great way to show them what being a productive, problem-solving adult looks like. If you never give them a chance to see you doing things like this occasionally, they’ll grow up thinking that those are unobtainable skills.
By doing it first and making it look easy, you give them the mentality that they will one day be able to do exactly what you’re doing. For example, surveys have shown that the children of mechanics are more likely to become mechanics, and the same is the case in many other professions.
10. Read Books or Blogs
Reading is something that many kids find boring at first because they’re being forced to learn how to read at a young age. However, if they see that you derive pleasure from reading on a regular basis, eventually their curiosity will get the best of them and they’ll want to get into reading as well. To spark interest in reading and storytelling, you may want to play audiobooks in the car on the way to school, work, the park, or the grocery store. Buy them a bunch of age appropriate books and start providing incentives for them to read from the ages of 4-5 and up.
11. Wake Up Early
Parenting can be a tough job and there will be many mornings when you’ll just want to sleep in, but having the discipline to wake up at a set time and get into your routine will demonstrate to your children that life isn’t all fun and games. There’s a reason why the military wakes everyone up at 6 AM or earlier – it builds resolve and willpower. Waking up early every morning and always being there to say “good morning” to your kids as soon as they open their eyes is a great feeling – much better than waking up late and stumbling into the kitchen to find that you’ve missed out on breakfast.
12. Clean on a Scheduled Basis
Children need to know the importance of keeping a clean and sanitary home at all times. Cleaning up on a strict schedule will teach your kids to do the same instead of letting them fall into the habit of making messes and expecting others to clean up after them. Still, don’t lean on your cleaning schedule as an excuse to put off tidying up when a mess is made. Every household should enforce the rule “clean up after yourself as soon as you make the mess.”
13. Talk About Your Career
There are so many kids who have absolutely no clue what their parents go to work and do for a living. That’s because many people just don’t want to spend their free time talking about their job. However, if you truly feel as though the mere mention of your job upsets you during your free time, then you might need to find a new profession. Show your kids that you can live a successful and happy life by working a career that you’re passionate about and don’t hesitate to bring up work-related topics at the dinner table.
14. Discuss Finances
This one is very straightforward – discussing advanced financial topics with your kids can lead to them making much wiser decisions with their money and credit later in life.
15. Watch Educational Game Shows
Watching educational game shows with your kids introduces them to a gamified form of education that’s disguised as entertainment. Just imagine how knowledgeable a kid would be if they watched an episode of Jeopardy every day for ten years.
Doing All of the Above Will Result in You Becoming a More Well-Rounded Parent
Ultimately, setting all of the examples listed above will make you a super parent in a way, because if you were to take 1,000 parents and survey them to find how many of them do all of this, you’d probably find that only an elite group of less than 10% of parents are this committed to leading by example.
Still, when you consider how basic most of these steps are, there’s really no excuse to keep putting off such simple yet beneficial lifestyle changes. In closing, think about this – the daily adjustments that you make today can instill behavior in your children that will carry them through adulthood, so keep that in mind when deciding just how important it is to follow this guide to the tee.