Whether you realize it or not, kids are watching every move you make. It’s not because they don’t trust you, and it’s not because they want to keep track of your every move. The reason being watched is that they want to know if what you say and what you do are the same–that is, that you walk the talk.
If you want to gain the trust and confidence of kids (and, believe me, that’s something you definitely want to do), you must set an example for them. But it’s not enough to set that example–your actions must be consistent with it. Here are 10 ways to lead by example:
1. Be sensitive to their feelings, and be kind to them
Everyone has a rough day, or a day when everything seems to go wrong. Be sensitive to those times for your kids, and support them instead of tearing them down.
2. Take time to make them feel special
We all want to feel special. Take time to sincerely praise your kids for things that they do well.
3. Listen to their emotions as well as words
Remember that 60 to 90 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Learn to read their body language as well as their emotions.
4. Choose your battles wisely
Don’t waste your time and energy engaging in fights that either have no consequence, or that will leave you drained.
5. Respect their uniqueness
Each one of us is unique. Take your kids’ individuality into account when you make decisions that affect them.
6. Avoid being defensive–and placing kids on the defensive
When you provide direction and feedback, make sure that it is candid, fair, and honest, and helps them find ways to use it to improve.
7. Give kids the benefit of the doubt.
Everyone benefits when we believe the best of people and their motives (especially kids).
8. Resolve interpersonal problems as quickly as possible
Don’t let disagreements or hurt feelings fester. Get these issues out into the open and work to resolve them quickly.
9. Treat kids the way you would like to be treated
You know how you would like to be treated by others. Now do the same for them.
10. Never take kids for granted–ever!