How you PRESENT yourself to children is the version they become. The positive characteristics and values you hope for children to achieve stems from how you model yourself. As children growing up, they are not equipped with the capacity to think, to behave and to reason appropriately because their brain is not fully developed just yet. Children need parents' guidance and support to become a person of value.
Do you know the first three years of a toddler's life account for 80 to 90% of brain growth? Children's brain development is highly sensitive to their environment and learning experiences, especially negative experiences. A parent's words, actions, values and emotions are vital and serve as the key to healthy brain development in children.
How to be a good role model?
How you talk to your spouse/partner and children is important. Remember, children are the best eves dropper out there, and they are always listening to you. Whether you are talking to yourself, or your partner, or children, they are always there. So be very careful and mindful on your speech. We want children to be exposed to a positive way of communication. Find out more about positive communication here.
There's an old saying "actions always speak louder than words" and I'm sure everyone is familiar with this phrase. Besides talking mindfully, our actions have to 'walk the talk' too. Waiting in a queue, putting trash in the bin, helping people in need, all these positive general conducts are important. Children are always observing their parents. If parents are careful with their speech but seen to be hitting and throwing things across the room, well, that is kind of defeating the whole "I want to be a good role model" purpose, isn't it?
We are made of our values and characteristics, but they don't come naturally to us. We are not born to be generous, confident and kind, nor are we taught to be one. In fact, how do you even teach values? We can't. We learn values through our learning environment by observing our parents and the people around us. If parents are kind towards animals, children will observe and be kind too. If parents are generous and empathetic, children will learn to be that too.
How you regulate emotions serves as a model to your children. Emotions are a big thing for children, and because emotions are so abstract, children find it complicated to understand and control. The only time they get to learn about emotions is through you. Children observe how you regulate your emotions and eventually applying it to themselves. If they see you yelling and hitting when you're angry, guess what they will do when they get angry? But if you are able to regulate your anger through calming strategies, they will know how to regulate themselves too. I have a whole section dedicated to emotions, learn more about them here.