The power of role models
12/29/2012 9:57:00 PM
There is much discussion lately regarding cause and effect as it relates to recent mass shooting tragedies. And while security, weapons and many other issues are being discussed, a good deal of controversy comes along with those topics. But what people can agree on almost universally is that adults are role models and should take this seriously. The importance of being a role model for children should not be underestimated. A role model is a person who serves as an example by influencing others. For many children, the most important role models are their parents and caregivers, according to an informational handout available through the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "Children and Role Models," at their website www.aacap.org. Children look up to a variety of role models to help shape how they behave in school, relationships or when making difficult decisions.
"Parents are, without a doubt, the most important role models. Their actions speak much, much louder than their words," said Laurel Freeman, R.N, a nurse specializing in child psychiatric services at West Yavapai Guidance Clinic. "A child seeing you read for pleasure will pick this up, and one who sees you on a computer game killing aliens will do the same."
Children also look up to other relatives, teachers and peers. Children may try to copy the behavior and appearance of celebrities, such as athletes and entertainers, and characters from books, TV, movies and video games. Some parents may want to help their children choose positive role models. Here are some helpful suggestions for discussing role models with your child and for serving as a positive role model for your child:
Have your child identify what qualities he admires in his role model
Give examples of people in your community who you feel have positive qualities and are a good influence on others
Talk about people you look up to for guidance and inspiration
"Parents can set good examples for their kids through good eating and exercise," Freeman said. "Kids who walk with their parents do it more than ones who are told to walk by their parents. This is the same with eating decently."