Role Modelling

Do you know who your children aspire to be like? Who is your child’s role model? It may seem as though it isn’t that important but as parents we need to think about this. A role model is someone whose behaviour is imitated by others. Of course, there are good role models and bad role models. There is even the anti-role model who behaves so badly that s/he serves as a good example of what NOT to do. The dictionary defines a role model as a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.

I teach Sunday school and sometimes when you ask children who their role models are, many of them would say rappers, athletes and basketball players. Yet the possibility of making it in life as one of those is zero. I keep wondering why the math or science teacher is never mentioned because the teacher presents some sense of reality and if they work hard they could actually become that math or science teacher. Some children get so wrapped up in admiring famous people that they go to great lengths to try to become them by dressing like them, having their photos in their rooms, imitating their talk and walk styles among other traits. So as a parent, be aware who your child thinks is worth admiring. And if you think the person is an inappropriate role model… hey do something about it. Do not just tell them NO but  find out why they admire the person and explain to them what about the person makes them not worthy of admiring; while at it find out  who else they admire and help them to choose on the right models. 

Children require role models to emulate, to give their growth and development a fulfilling direction. Powerful role models allow children to believe in themselves. It is said that children with good role models develop into adults with vision and values. Some children grow up in situations that make them feel dejected, unwanted, and unappreciated. Role models will speak to a child’s innate optimism and belief in goodness, that strength of character can fight and win the most hopeless situations and also to know that ordinary people can live extraordinary lives.

Who are suitable role models?

At least there is someone who will surely serve as an important role model in a child’s life, that is, the parent. YES parents, because kids learn by observing and interpreting and making meaning of what is going on around them all the time. Thus your kids are observing you and eventually will judge what kind of a role model you are based on how you behave, your relationships with others, how loving and caring you are, and how mean and selfish. You may be positive or negative role models for your kids but you may also be a mix of good and bad, with some traits that your kids will want to model and carry on to the next generation and some that your kids will reject and be glad not to pass on to their kids.

Parents can be children’s most powerful and inspiring role models because parents model with warmth and love. Children learn by how you live, and being so close, both physically and psychologically, you can transmit your own wisdom in many different ways. Parents can use stories from the family history to keep alive a sense of family and connected-ness.


Both girls and boys require role models who give specific gender-related messages. It has been through gender role models that women of today for instance have explored avenues for themselves outside the confines of the home, and are developing new and interesting ways of expressing themselves in society, culture, politics, art, literature etc. Introduce your children to books, movies and articles about the lives of famous people who you think could be inspirational and encouraging. Discuss these with them, talk about your children’s dreams and ambitions for themselves, and always support them in their efforts.

Encourage independent thinking and let your children know who you think are great role models. Parents need to talk to their kids about what’s on TV and what values it promotes. Yes, the TV anchors, sportsmen, actors, musicians, are great but what about someone who has devoted his/her life to helping others, someone who started small, someone who is really smart and worked hard in school to succeed, are such people to be emulated? Push for alternative role models because if you don’t the media will keep hawking celebrities to our children as the royalty of our culture.

Too many people in the lime light, who are looked on as role models end up disappointing us and our kids by their bad behaviour; I am not sure if they should trusted with such an important job. The best we can do is be the best role models ourselves.

Therefore the next time you are thinking about role models, think of your own behaviour and what lessons your kids are deriving from it day after day, year after year, generation after generation. We all hope that our children have good, strong role models who possess the kind of qualities that make our sons and daughters want to be (and become) better people.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ruth Dero on March 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Great!we should always strive to have a perfect life and leave a legacy that is worth being emulated by those who regard as their role models.


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