As they get older, we need to keep a closer watch.
Regardless of what parenting style you adhere to, you know that children can be very impressionable. At all ages, parents must keep a close eye on the things that their kids consume, be it TV shows or websites, and we need to make sure that they’re not idolizing – or more importantly, emulating – the wrong things.
The task of making sure that our children have good role models is deceptively easy, because younger children aren’t nearly as hell-bent on having their way. Correcting bad behavior in children has sometimes even been said to be as easy as 1-minute magic, because let’s face it, younger children are much more keen to accept your authority, and much more fearful of a parent’s wrath.
But as they get older, children start to grow much more independent, and much less accepting of the authority of their parents. When this happens, it can be a bit more difficult to tell them off for listening to offensive material or watching inappropriate shows. It’s harder to correct bad behavior, and much harder to help them find and keep good role models. So how do you make sure that they don’t end up idolizing the wrong people?
Sometimes, the best solution is the easiest, and in this case, the simplest solution is to find an alternative. Begin by asking your children if there’s anyone they idolize, or aspire to be in the future, and if it seems to you that the person they idolize could be a negative influence, don’t go and tell them off.
After all, if there’s anything older children hate, it’s being told what to do. As the UK’s National Health Service says, “Teenagers hate being lectured or bombarded with solutions. Instead of trying to be the expert on their lives, try to help them think for themselves so that they can make good decisions.”
Ask them what it is exactly that they like about the person they say they idolize. Is it the fact that they make a lot of money, have a lot of friends, or maybe it’s the successful career? As soon as you find out what it is, you can then start giving alternatives.
Rather than tell them right off the bat that their idols are bad for them, try to find positive influences in people you think also embody the characteristics your children find admirable in their idols. Present these people to your children casually, by watching films that these people star in, or talking about things you see on the news.
Positive role models aren’t that hard to come by, and it’s best to introduce them to your kids in the medium that they use the most. On Youtube, we have Bethany Mota, a personality described by Business Insider as “relentlessly upbeat and bouncy” and “a virtuoso of positivity” despite being bullied in her early teens.
In theater, we also have Catherine Bennett of Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, which Tootsa MacGinty describes as “a ‘modern heroine’ – not the over-sexualised-material-disney-girl that seems to have become the norm, but someone who would inspire our younger female generation”.
There are a slew of potential role models out there, and even if your child doesn’t take to the first one or two that you introduce to them, keep trying. The important thing here is to help your child identify just what it is exactly that makes a role model positive, or negative, so in the future, they won’t even need your help in discerning which is which.
What are some ways you’ve talked to your kids about their role models? Do you have any tips for confronting older children about their idols? Let us know!
Exclusively submitted to Loving Your Child by JenniB