Why parents should lead by example

Let's face it, our kids don't always do what we ask them to and it can be annoying and frustrating. The best way you can shape your child's behaviors and get them to act in certain ways is to model the behaviors for them. Parents need to lead by example in order to get kids to act the way you want.

Be your child's model and show him the behaviors you want him to follow. For instance, if you want your child to be patient, then you need to model patience. If you find yourself stopped at a light and you're feeling super impatient, take deep breaths and try to model patience for your child.

Why parents need to lead by example.

Our Children are Watching

I'm reading the book, Grit, by Angela Duckworth and it's awesome. It's so amazing and so inspiring. In the book, she mentions a study done with young children. In the study, children watch their parents go into a room and play with toys. The children watch their parents play with toys and then afterward the child gets to go in and play with the toys.

What they found was that the child would mimic whatever the parent did. For instance, if the parent was calm and went in and played calmly with the toys, the child tended to go in and play calmly with the toys. If the parent was violent with the toys, then the child would also be violent with the toys. This is a good reminder that children learn from our actions.


"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

- James Baldwin


You can tell your child to act a certain way, but they don't always listen. If you lead by example, they will follow your actions more than your words. Children look to us and watch us in order to see what we're doing and how we're acting. It's really important that we model the behaviors we want our children to follow.

Lead by Example.

Our children are constantly watching us. Think about your cell phone and how often you're looking at your cell phone. If you're always on your cell phone, what do you think your kids will do when they get older and have a cell phone? They will mimic you. If you are often looking at your phone, then chances are, they're going to be on it as well. It's just a good reminder to always be aware of what you are doing and try to lead by example.

This is not always easy. Especially if there are behaviors in your child that are also a weakness in you. Does that ever happen to you? It happens to me all the time and it drives me crazy. My weaknesses are often highlighted in my child's behaviors.

For instance, I really don't like being late. I get really stressed out and really frazzled if I'm late. And I get frustrated. I've noticed that Brewer is just like me. He acts the same way. So this is something that I'm working on. It's hard to model the behaviors when it is a weakness of ours.

Identify Behaviors you want and intentionally model it for them

So think about the behaviors you want your child to have (i.e. growth mindset, patience, Grit) and work on modeling those behaviors for your child. Also, be sure to point out the behaviors you are modeling to your child. Bring attention to the fact that you are struggling with something that is challenging.

Point out when you are trying to stay calm even when you are running late. Calling attention to behaviors you want your child to mimic helps them to notice these behaviors.


Talk to your child about what you are doing

Say, "Hey, you know what? I'm working on this project right now and it is really hard, but I'm going to keep trying." Or say, "I keep messing up and it's not working, but I'm not going to give up."

If you want your child to embody certain behaviors and traits, then make sure you're modeling it for them and talking to them about it.

Talk about what strategies you are using or the ways you are demonstrating the desirable behavior. By talking about it, you are helping your child see and understand the subtle ways they can work to have those qualities and behave that way.


Lead by example. Think about the behaviors that you really want your child to have, and intentionally model it and talk about it. Share when you're doing it, point out if you're doing something that you really want him to do so that he is aware and will notice it more.5-Day Grit Challenge

5-Day Grit Challenge Sign up

Join the 5-Day Grit Challenge

If you are looking for a fun and easy way to introduce Grit skills to your young child, try our Free 5-Day Grit Challenge. I don't think you can build grit in five days, but you can start promoting it!

With our five day challenge, we give you daily printables and a short video with a simple strategy you can implement with your child. It's really manageable. We set it up for busy parents, so each day you can spend five minutes with your child building Grit skills.

So if you are interested in joining the five-day challenge, how to build grit in your child, you can sign up here.

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