Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > How to Teach Your Child by Example
Teaching your child by example isn't about being a perfect parent. True, it's about showing, or modeling, healthy choices and good behavior. But it's also about showing your child how to handle mistakes and recover from bad choices.
First, take a minute to think about the good examples you set for your child every day. And give yourself credit for bad habits that you've already changed to good ones for your child's benefit.
Now, ask yourself a few questions.
It's easy to help a child learn from his or her own mistakes with questions like, "What didn't work this time? How can you do it differently next time?"
What about helping your child learn from your mistakes? That's harder, isn't it? It means drawing attention to your flaws and missteps.
But using your mistakes as a learning tool helps both you and your child. And it helps build your child's respect for you over time.
Here's an example: Let's say that you have a habit of yelling, which you don't want your child to do. So you set the goal of not yelling. Then you make a plan for how you'll handle those tough moments when you're angry or frustrated. This is not easy to do all at once, and you make some mistakes along the way. But you use those mistakes to teach your child a better way. Here are some tools for doing that.
For a serious problem like depression or an addiction, you can tell your child the basics—that you need help from other adults and that you may need treatment and time to get well and change. Keep it simple. Tell your child that you want to help him or her avoid having the same problem.
You may have heard the saying "It takes a village to raise a child." There's some truth in that. As much as you want to set a good example for handling life's many choices, you can't do it all. Fortunately, the world is rich with people your child can learn from. These include:
Be your child's guide
As your child gets older, you can't choose or control the many types of role models in your child's life. But you can help your child learn from these role models' successes and mistakes. Talk about those successes and mistakes. If it feels right, play-act them. With your child, "rewrite" others' mistakes with better choices.
Use this list to start conversations with your child. To make it like a game, you might write these and other questions on cards ahead of time.
If your child is a preteen or teen, you can talk about how other people handle things like smoking, peer pressure, sexuality, driving, and social media. Help your child discover the flaws, rather than naming them yourself. Ask questions like, "What went wrong there? What could make it turn out better if this happened again?"
Be on the lookout for examples of good and bad behavior, both in real life and in the media. There are endless options for what you can talk about with your child.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Current as ofMarch 27, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Current as of:
March 27, 2018
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.