The best way to teach your tyke positive values is to be a great role model…

As parents, we teach our children best when we lead by example ― showing junior the kind of behaviour we want our kids to adopt.

Of course, no one can be the “perfect” parent, but it isn’t rocket science raising children who are happy and well-balanced.

All we need to do is to love them, give them boundaries, and most importantly, someone they respect and can learn from.

Here are 10 ways to help your kids build character and self-esteem, when you...

1) Are a loving couple

Children first learn about romantic relationships when they see their parents in action. A strong relationship built on trust and respect are essentials you want your child to develop. It’s important to display these values with your spouse, so that your children can see them in action and emulate them, notes marriage and family therapist Dr Hana Ra Adams.

Sons learn how to treat women and daughters learn how to be treated by men when they observe how their dads treat their mums and vice versa. So, manage conflict with your spouse in a positive manner.

2) Avoid lying

Being honest with our children encourages them to be honest with us, Dr Adams notes.

That said, every parent is guilty of telling a white lie now and again, like telling their mini-me that the toy store is about to close, so as to pry them out sooner. Families for Life blogger Tan Chin Hock, 38, dad to Charleen, 3 months, Celine, 3, and Charmaine, 5, pleads guilty to this. If caught red-handed, however, he says he explains the truth to his children as best he can.

He says, “A lie leads to another lie and I want to avoid giving my children the impression that lying and being unrepentant after being caught are acceptable behaviours.”

3) Don’t yell

When you are about to react negatively to your tot’s aggravating behaviour, walk away or take a deep breath to calm yourself down. “Yelling doesn’t help your child to listen,” Dr Adams points out. “They tune out the noise and the tendency is for you to become louder to get their attention, which doesn’t help anything other than your blood pressure to rise.”

“A lie leads to another lie and I want to avoid giving my children the impression that lying and being unrepentant after being caught are acceptable behaviours.”

Responding only after you’ve calmed down will show junior not to react negatively and also teach coping strategies for stressful situations.

4) Be an early riser

Waking up early gives you more hours to accomplish all your tasks. This recipe for success is an easy one to pass down to your brood. A bonus: It gives the family a chance to sit down and enjoy breakfast — the most important meal of the day — together.



5) Respect everyone

Being kind to someone and minding your Ps and Qs can really brighten up somebody’s day. Dr Adams notes, “It’s important our children realise that though they may be small, their actions affect others.” More importantly, show the same respect and kindness to a cleaner as you would a CEO.

6) Get unplugged

The longer you’re on your Facebook news feed, the less time you have to speak to
your kids, and develop and maintain relationships. In short, you may be physically present for your child, but you are absent mentally and emotionally. Keep on doing this and your child will follow your example when they’re with family and friends!

7) Adopt a healthy lifestyle

The more you move, the more your munchkin does. A healthful lifestyle doesn’t have to be about taking vigorous hikes or chugging wheatgrass drinks daily. It can be as simple as walking to the park instead of driving, eating fresh fruit instead of drinking soda to satisfy your sweet tooth, and learning portion control, so you can eat your favourite foods in moderation.

“It’s important our children realise that though they may be small, their actions affect others.”

8) Value your elders

If you want your child to be there for you during your golden years, show them how. We can do small and thoughtful actions for our parents in our everyday lives, suggests Tan, a 2013 National Filial Piety Award recipient and founder of, which encourages youngsters to pay more attention to their ageing parents.

Organise a Sunday meal with the folks, so that the kiddos can bond with their grandparents while watching how you interact with them. Junior will learn a million different life lessons from watching you taking charge of your parents’ needs, such as taking them to a doctor’s appointment or a meal. And doing it with a smile.

9) Enjoy life

If your little one only sees you worrying about finances and the future, they will think that’s what grown-up life is all about. No matter how bleak the situation is, your munchkin needs to see your resilience and ability to still enjoy life.

Can’t afford to eat out regularly? Then pack a picnic you can savour together at the park. No budget for an overseas vacay? No problem: Go camping or have a swim at the beach. If you have the budget, organise a staycation at a local hotel. In short, teach junior how to make the best of what he has.

10) Be grateful

To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…” Indeed, no matter how well you plan, things will inevitably crop up that are beyond your control. So, teach your peewee to count their blessings and focus on the positives in life.

A great way to do it is to to ask them daily what the best part of the day was for him. Then after listening carefully to their answer (whether trivial or not) give them your own answer, too!

Photo: iStock

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