Nobody is perfect. Every parent’s dream is to help their children achieve what they couldn’t. We are acutely aware of the cost of our own failings and don’t want our children to struggle with the same things we do. You can improve yourself, but character change is a slow process. Correcting your faults in time for their later childhood might be too late if they picked up your habits during their formative years. How can you deliver the message “Do as I say, not as I do” without hypocrisy?
Practice Your Humility
Be honest with your children. They’re going to realize you’re not infallible sooner or later, so you might as well negotiate that realization on your own terms! If you’re a habitual complainer and catch yourself making a bad situation worse, stop and apologize. Acknowledge the effect your behavior has on everyone’s mood. Not only have you taught your children that Mommy makes mistakes, you’ve shown your children how to be responsible for their own mistakes.
Point Out Positive Examples
Parents might be the primary role models for children, but they aren’t the only ones. Children watch teachers, coaches, religious leaders, and especially fellow kids for behavior cues. Anyone your child interacts with regularly is a potential life skills teacher. If you often leave projects unfinished, but you know your son’s friend successfully built a tree house, talk about how much fun your son and his friend can have because his friend persevered and finished. Teaching your children to look for and learn from the positive traits in others will serve them throughout their lives.
Praise Desirable Behavior
It’s no secret that positive reinforcement works miracles. Even if your child is only folding her laundry because you told her to, she still benefits from your praise. This is especially true when they do something you aren’t good at doing. If you let clutter build up but your daughter puts away her toys at your instruction, say, “You cleaned your floor! It’s so pretty and tidy. I know it was hard, but you did a good job.” No matter what mistakes you may make, your approval and compliments will uplift your children.
Nobody is perfect. Our children won’t be. But they can have their own faults instead of ours.