Reason 1 –To teach by example we have to actually BE a worthy example.
This means a major overhaul of just about every aspect of our personalities. We don’t want to pass on our faults, our wounds, our fears and pain to our kids. So it is imperative for us to embark upon a lifelong journey of self-improvement.
I am a pretty decent guy in general. When my daughter was born just over 18 years ago I also was a pretty decent guy, but I knew at the time that if I didn’t make significant changes in myself I would be passing my faults, fears and wounds along to my daughter.
After 18 years 46 year old Vivek is very different from 28 year Vivek.
But 46 year old Vivek still has a lot of growing, learning and changing to do. Part of the work I do in being a good father and a conscious parent is not letting a day go by without at least some amount of self-reflection. It is I feel it is necessary for me to work on myself every day.
I have a lifetime of negative programming to work on.
And depending on your belief structure, perhaps lifetimes.
I am certainly a much better model for my daughter today than 18 years ago
and hopefully I will be better tomorrow then I am today.
Reason 2 – why it is difficult to teach by example is:
Trusting our children to learn the lessons
Teaching by example really requires significant patience. If we believe we are being a good example and we do not see our kids reflecting the desired behaviour or attitudes right away we can easily lose patience. Then the temptation to try and force them into a mould of our design becomes irresistible.
One of the reasons teaching by example is so powerful is because it allows them to become their own people. Teaching by example is teaching by Principle rather than rote. It is teaching in the spirit of freedom rather than control and it allows our children to develop their own personalities.
Encourage Them To Develop Their Own Value System
If we attempt to use any kind of force or control to push our own value system on our kids,
then we are not actually encouraging them to develop their own value system.
And it is by developing their own value system, through their own experience that they will really become their own people. When we simply parrot what someone else has told us then we do not understand from our hearts, from our beings the nature of right and wrong.
The purpose of teaching by example is to allow kids to figure things out on their own.
This means we must have an almost unreasonable amount of patience with the process of their learning and growth.
Mistakes Are The Road To Learning And Growth
It means that when they do make mistakes,
and they will,
we must be there to love and support them through it
rather than try and control them or make them feel bad.
Mistakes are the road to learning and growth.
When people are afraid of making mistakes
they are hesitant to experiment and explore.
We can be of so much use to our kids if we can help facilitate their learning.
Guide them on how to process mistakes.
Inspire them to love themselves when they make mistakes.
Help them plan how to improve themselves from the lessons they learn.
Wow! There is so much richness available to us in those moments.
Teaching by example includes how you act, how you speak and even how you think.
We can teach our children by setting a good example,
by actively doing good together with them
and not expecting a specific reaction.
Here are a few things I do to try and be this type of example:
When I make a mistake I admit it right away.
I apologize to her and talk about the things I need to learn and improve.
(my saying is: “If you’re not apologizing to your kid once a week, you’re not paying attention.”)
I show gratitude to people and in general for the good in my life.
Together we do whatever we can to be good to people during our daily lives!
We make people smile when we interact with them.
We return extra change we receive at the grocery store.
We stop the car to help old people with groceries
or with shovelling their walk.
We take the time to help kids who look lost in the mall to find their parents.
I talk about what I am learning about myself.
I share my struggles and my victories.
I work hard at following my passions
So that she absorbs that as a value in her own life.
This is why I dance, write, make music, do martial arts and all the other stuff I do!
I also model respectful interaction.
I don’t demand respect FROM her,
but rather I model it by being respectful TO her.
By living this way, my daughter is developing
a strong moral sense for herself,
So that she will be able to make right decisions on her own.