NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Example

DucklingsChildren are not born with social knowledge or social skills.  At a very young age they begin to acquire that knowledge and develop those skills, often by imitating what they've seen someone else do.  Quite often, that "someone" is one or both of the child's parents.

Parents are a child's first teachers and role models, and usually children are more affected by what their parents do than by what their parents say. They learn how to behave by observing how their mothers and fathers behave and by following their example.


A great way to model positive behavior and boost a child's self-confidence is to use social skills.  A child will learn good manners more easily when "please" and "thank you" are a part of their daily life, and not just something for when grandma or guests are around.

Showing respect for others is a cornerstone for social skills.  Taking turns talking and listening, and asking permission are two very basic ways to show respect.  Another way to show respect is to avoid making negative statements about others.  If we often put down other people, our children will learn that other people are not important.

Being consistent in teaching and setting examples is very important. If we tell our child that he must not hit people, but then slap or spank him as punishment for his misbehavior, we are sending a mixed message that can confuse the child. 

Parents aren't perfect. We get tired and hungry.  We lose our tempers and say things we are sorry for.  We are not always as kind as we would like to be. We are human. When these things happen, it is important to admit our mistakes, express our sorrow or regrets, and take steps to make amends.  These are powerful examples for our children, too.  Being a positive role model for our children is one of the most important and rewarding things we can do for them.

Adapted from:  "Being a Role Model for Your Child," University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  

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