“You can't give children what you don't have yourself. No matter how much importance you place on it." -Brené Brown, best-selling author and vulnerability researcher
Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our children. They will follow what we do, not necessarily what we say.
If we leave clothes on the ground, they will too.
If we eat quickly and voraciously, they will too.
If we yell, they will too.
Children learn predominantly by observation and experience, not just through words.
If you want to teach your children well, then train yourself well.
They will pick up your habits - good, bad or indifferent. At least make them worthwhile!
If you want to teach your children respect, respect yourself first.
If you want to teach your children compassion, show yourself compassion first.
If you want to teach your children patience, be patient with yourself first.
You can’t teach your children something that you don’t practice.
You can’t tell them not to eat candy if your car is full of candy wrappers.
You can’t tell them to play outside if they never see you playing outside (or moving your body).
You can’t tell them to sit down while eating if you’re always eating on the run.
It’s the oldest rule in the book, but we sometimes forget it: practice what you preach. Because, if you aren’t practicing it, you aren’t really preaching it. Children will pick up on your disingenuousness. They will know you’re not for real. And they will know that they don’t have to take it seriously either.
If you want your children to be healthy, choose health for yourself.
If you want your children to be happy, choose happiness for yourself.
Whatever it is that you want to teach your children, you need to embody it first.
Otherwise, they will call BS. Otherwise, they will see through the act. Otherwise, you will be lying to yourself and lying to them.
Be the person you want your children to become. Maybe they follow suit, maybe they don’t. You can’t control that part. But, at least you’re leading by example. At least you’re in integrity. At least you’re doing the best you can.