There’s a whole lot said when it comes to managing our kids’ behavior. There have been countless books written on the subject of ensuring that our children’s words and behaviors echo the proper ideals and values. We want to ensure that they stay on the right path.

It’s our desire that they live a lifestyle that allows them to stay healthy and happy. We want them to be financially independent and prosperous; able to take care of themselves and their families. It’s our goal that they grow up with confidence and self-assurance, but not arrogance. We want them to be popular and well-liked but not compromise their principles by succumbing to peer pressure.

While we all want these things for our children, none of us know the exact formula for raising kids correctly. Most of us parent the same way that we’re familiar with – no matter how much we try to avoid it. It’s easy to fall into the habits of our parents, without even realizing that that’s what’s happening. It’s because it’s what’s familiar to us. We can start issuing commands, demands, and ultimatums, and lose our patience when we don’t get the behavior we expect. Some are quick to threaten punishment when exhausted with the process.

In prescribing a “do this but don’t do that” approach, we can miss out on one of the most important aspects of parenting… Leading by example. Whether you’re a parent or not, everyone can benefit from taking a closer look at the example we set for others all around us.

Set the Standard

Positive reinforcement and goal setting are great but it’s important to remember that kids learn by example. They may not always show it, but they dearly want to like their parents. Through the eyes of a child, adulthood looks like a whole lot of fun. Grown-ups get to play with the best toys like cars, tablets, and smartphones. They get to dress in cool clothes and wear perfume and makeup. In the eyes of adults are awesome.

Try this: Modeling proper behavior and proper communications skills is a technique that teachers have used for decades. Think about how teacher’s teach kids to wait their turn, say please and thank you, and share with their peers. Modeling the correct behaviors is an effective tool for impressionable children. 

At home

While we’re often quite mindful of our behavior when we’re in public, the mask can slip when we get home. This isn’t to say that you should be afraid to be yourself. But you should put forth an intentional effort to demonstrate positive behaviors whenever possible.

For example, cooking nutritious meals and enjoying them as a family will show that healthy foods are a good choice. Likewise, avoid making a beeline for a glass of wine as soon as you get home from work. It gives the impression that you need that glass of wine to make it through the day.

In relationships

If you have kids, it’s important to remember that all of their expectations of love, romance and relationships will be based on what they observe between you and your partner. Try not to make it a habit to sweep arguments under the rug for the sake of kids. This doesn’t mean that you should be constantly arguing in front of them. Be civil and calm but don’t avoid conflict as if it won’t exist in all relationships.

It’s important to demonstrate respect for your partner but also respect for yourself. Show your kids that when they meet that special someone they should treat them with respect and achieve a harmonious domestic life with them. But also instill that being respectful doesn’t entitle either person to take the other for granted or to not value their opinion.

On the road

If you’re in a car with someone who isn’t yet of driving age it can be tempting to ignore the influence we hold over them. Drive too fast and they may start to believe that speed limits were made to be broken. Drive selfishly and irresponsibly and they’ll assume that reckless driving is the norm. Cuss out other drivers (however inconsiderate their behavior) and you’ll be an unwitting poster girl for road rage.

Tip: If you’re involved in an accident or collision on the road it’s vitally important to demonstrate the correct behavior. Take deep breaths, make sure everyone is okay, remain calm and treat the other driver/s with courtesy and respect, never admit fault at the scene. If there are injuries at the scene or you don’t believe that things were handled properly be sure to seek legal help from someone like this lawyer.

At work

Let’s be honest, we can be very different people at work than we are at home. It’s normal. At work, we may need to be more assertive and structured, more straightforward and professional.  Your place of employment is likey where you set a great example for others on a day-to-day basis. Even if you don’t have kids you’re likely to have subordinates, colleagues, and co-workers who look to you for leadership whether you’re aware of it or not.

Leading by example at work can come in a range of forms but whether you’re in a leadership role or not here are some great ways to do it:

  • Listen to your team. Take their ideas seriously and if you need to challenge them try to find ways that will encourage people to rethink, refine or improve their ideas.
  • Get your hands dirty. Never tell someone to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself (the best way is often to show them how it’s done).
  • Take responsibility and accountability. Don’t play the blame game if something goes awry. Be accountable for your actions and instead look for ways to rectify situations that don’t go as planned. 

It’s not enough just to have values. We have to live them every day and these are just a few ways to do that in the presence of those who look up to you.

*contributor written post