Children See, Children Do

This blog post was originally published on July 9, 2013

There’s no arguing when we say parents are their child’s best role models. Children not only carry on traits through genetics, but also learn mannerisms, reactions to situations (ahhh, spider!), and ways to express emotions while looking up to parents – especially in their formative years. But what does this really mean? It means playing your part, before pointing the finger at how others aren’t playing theirs. After all, the best school is a child’s home environment. Modeling positive behaviours extends to many areas in your kids’ lives. Perfection is not what we’re talking about here… we’re talking about instilling good values, self-respect and learning to respect others, being assertive instead of aggressive or passive, helping them grow into responsible young adults, and laughing and creating fun memories together.


Your relationship with your significant other (if partnered) matters.

What you communicate to your partner and what you hide (yes children can sense that too), how you communicate with your partner and how you allow them to communicate with you become roadmaps for your children’s future relationships and friendships.

How do you feel today? Emotions drive actions

Often times, parents confide in how guilty they feel after having a negative reaction to their child’s behaviour. The key here is to think of your own emotions in the moment, possible reasons of why you went to such an extreme, and how you think you can control yourself in the future. You can control your own behavior – to a much greater extent than your children can theirs. Think of how you react towards other adults and why you allow yourself to do so differently with your little ones. Therefore, when feeling angry, remember that you’re not only disciplining kids, but they’re also watching you model effective coping strategies without yelling or resorting to physical violence.

You matter

Children learn a lot by watching their parents go through life day in and day out.

I often describe parents as selfless, putting aside their own needs for those of their children. You matter. Taking care of yourself is a relevant part of the equation, even if it means leaving 1% of you there. Otherwise, what are your children learning about who are as a person, your unique characteristics, interests, and life story if they have all diminished?

For example, I once supported a mom who was too afraid to quit her job and start her dream career. I asked her to think ahead to the type of conversation she would like to have with her own daughter who may be struggling with a similar situation twenty years down the line. The question was, did she want to say to her daughter, “I was too afraid to make the leap, but you should do it!”, versus, “I was scared too and went through many challenges, but I did it and so can you!”. Soon enough, this parent took the leap and is now proud to be the role model she wants her daughter to have. 

So with18 in Mind, how would you model life differently? P.s.: this is one of my favourite videos called Children See, Children Do (trigger warning).

Happy parenting, 


N.B.: 18 in Mind is a blog about the day your kids turn 18 and the parenting years in between!