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How to be a positive role model for your kids

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Setting a good example

The best way to raise happy, healthy, successful and self-confident children is to model these behaviors in your own actions. Not sure how to start? Experts share tips on how to be a positive role model for your kids through your own actions.

Mom and daughter eating healthy breakfast

Practice what you preach. It may sound cliched, but it is true – and it is the best way to be a positive role model and develop healthy habits for yourself and for your children. Here are steps to get started in setting the right example for your kids.

Mom, eat your broccoli!

News flash: You can't expect your children to eat their broccoli if you won't eat it. "I think that one of the best things that you can do is show your kids how to eat well and exercise by doing it," says Jill "The Veggie Queen" Nussinow, MS, RD. "Good nutrition, as well as tasty eating in the home, makes for a better and healthier life. Kids mimic their parents and this is one area that research has shown how important it is to make the best choices in terms of eating well."

Fill your own plate with vegetables, fish and fruit – and your children will soon follow.

Banish your own negative self-image

Even if you have always disliked your curly hair or cursed your pear-shaped body, it is best to keep those thoughts to yourself. "Thinking positive thoughts, and more importantly, learning how to banish negative thoughts, is extremely important when it comes to raising children," says fitness expert Molly Napolitano, MS.

"When a mom is feeling down on herself and doesn't like the way she looks and feels, her children (especially daughters) pick up on this. Children learn behaviors and attitudes at home. If you're never satisfied with your appearance, chances are your child may end up feeling the same way."

Modeling generosity

To raise charitable children, be charitable yourself by participating in fundraisers or donating toys and clothes to a women's shelter.

"Teaching kids about the value of a buck and the lessons of generosity has little to do with how much money a family controls," says Joanna Krotz, author of The Guide to Intelligent Giving. "Clearly, kids need a firm foundation for spending and saving before they can even contemplate giving. By helping them define money's value and reach and untangle it from guilt or discomfort, you set the stage for the rewards and responsibilities of lifelong giving. Overall, one of the most effective ways to educate your children is the simplest: Model the behavior you want to see in them."

Modeling truthful behavior

Author of Unleashing the Power of Parental Love, Gary M. Unruh has over forty years experience in family counseling and says the best way to be a positive role model is through actions, while keeping the discussion short and sweet.

He gives the following example of modeling truthful behavior after running into someone's car in a parking lot:

"Dad, you don't have to leave a note on that car. There's only a little scratch."

Dad: "No, give me a pen and paper so I can apologize and give my number to the owner. In our family, we tell the truth whether someone saw us do something wrong or not."

Modeling acceptance of others

Show non-judgment in your own actions towards people who are of a different race, culture or those that have a different personal style, and your kids will follow. Unruh gives this suggestion:

"Mom, isn't that kid stupid for spiking his hair so high?"

Mom:  "His hair really is different and it makes us feel uncomfortable, but he must really feel his hairstyle expresses who he is. It's important for us to respect his choice of hairstyle."

The formula is simple: Be a positive role model by acting in a positive way – and your kids will follow.

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