If we talk about “Lead by an example”, we can see two words “leader” which means “to lead” the principal player in the music group and “example” which means a person or thing regarded in terms of their tasks to be imitated. Thus, we can say, Good leaders must lead by example.
By walking, talking and doing something you become a person others want to follow. And the moment you become a Parent you automatically become a leader too, no matter how much you say that “you are not an example to your child, you have a tremendous role to play. Let’s take an example, if you ever notice a young girl child, in their pretend-play what they are doing they might take a “Dupatta” of their mother and behave to manage household things and if you observe a young boy child he might take specs of his father or grandfather and pretend to act like them such as reading newspaper and might take a bag & pretend like going to office, right?
So, our children imitate us consciously and unconsciously. Dear Parents, breaking news is “your child is imitating each and every behaviour of yours so congratulations. Here is a good news for you that whatever behavior you as parent want to inculcate in your children you should start doing the same, such as if you want your child to be patient while he/she try to resolve any issue related to studies and try to attempt anything new then you should start doing any task with patience such as trying new things or resolving any issues such as resolving studies matter with children and managing household things. Do remember if you show irritation while doing anything either office work and explaining something to somebody else remember you are being observed by your child and you are the role model for your child.
In the same way, in the case of healthy eating habits and saying no to junk food also you are an example. Even frying a samosa at home is junk food. The way you will treat food is the way your child will acquire the taste.
Parents need to remember following things:-
1) All tastes are acquired and nobody is born with an acquired taste or born by choosing that I will eat “Pumpkin” and I will not eat “Bitter Gourd” right! So, give your child ample of exposure for acquiring all the tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, citrus etc. The way you will react to a particular taste is the way the child will follow most of the time.
2) We must celebrate and enjoy the food we eat; it should not be occasion dependent such as going for a meal outside the home. If we make faces while eating some specific food item such as “tinda” then that’s how the child will model.
3) For teachers, if you want all children to talk with everybody in the class and school & make healthy connections with everybody in order to avoid making groups, teachers must practice the same with all the teachers in school and with the other staff members of the school and be an example.
A question can come in your mind that if you are an example for your own child then why is your child not adopting certain behaviors of yours? This depends on the other environments too that the child is exposed to. For example, if Parents want their child to be respectful towards everyone they need to provide him with an environment to nurture respectfulness. If the parent himself/herself is respectful in some situations (with elders in the family) and disrespectful in other situations (with servants at home) then that can create confusion for the child.
When leaders say one thing, but do another, they erode trust — if you see somebody giving a lecture or philosophy about something and in action doing something else we get irritated, to some extent feeling disgusted and don’t want to trust again, right? So similarly if you are saying something to your child and doing something else then there is a possibility that your child gets irritated and it might also be possible that they act in an abrupt way, so be an example for them if you want to inculcate any behavior in your child.
In my experience, I had suggested this tool to a parent and I have seen Parents becoming an example for their children by trying various things such as a mother who wants her child to try extra-curricular activities especially “swimming”. So in order to push her child to learn swimming, she starts going with her child to swimming class and she herself learned swimming.
In this particular example, the mother is fearful of swimming but she faces her fear and become an example for her son along with providing a support structure for her son.
By using this particular tool of “being an example”, you have a lot of power to nurture desired behaviors and habits in your children. Also, at the same time, you can be a solid support structure for your child by providing them with a ‘push’ to explore them beyond their comfort zone.
Another pertinent issue that Parents face is with over usage of gadgets by the child. For example, a parent after coming back from office is glued to his/her phone for checking WhatsApp/social media or playing games then the message that the child might get is that it is okay to indulge in gadgets during free time. Now for the child, free time is after he comes back from school, so he might be using the gadgets for an extended period of time because his free time will be for 6-7 hours approximately. Whereas for Parent free time will be after office i.e. approximately 2 hours only.
Again, need I tell you how this habit might have manifested?
Role of early childhood stage –
Early childhood is the stage where the process of learning and adaptation of things grows fast and in this stage, children learn most of the time through imitation. So as above we are discussing that children’s learning through imitation can be easily visible in their pretend play. Thus, for Parents, it will be a golden opportunity to give their children plenty of exposure for inculcating behavior which you want to inculcate in their children, along with this parent can practice their consistency to become an example for their children.
When children enter the adolescent’s stage they have already learned plenty of things and make millions of synaptic connection which they have observed in their environment or acquired certain things just like that or force to do some things by their elders. So as compared to adolescents, young children are easier to mold. For example, if you feed some data in the pen drive or CD and want to feed more data after some time then we have to remove some data from that pen drive and then feed some data in it or either we can sort out data in that and adjust some again so similarly in order to train your adolescents you have to train them by making new synaptic connections along with being an example.
Parents are the biggest examples of a leader for their children so; use this power, being an example is a fundamental tool that you need to use wisely.
This is one of the most powerful tool of parenting; and there are others; we are unique in our own ways so our children will also be unique in their own special way given they have plenty of exposure in their environment. You can surely be an example for your children and give your child plenty of exposure to inculcate things which you want.