Be a Rule Model AND a Role Model

Posted on February 19, 2019

My well behaved niece Vaani, 7 years old at the time, had come to spend a couple of days with us during her summer break last year. I decided to go over some basic rules with her like picking up her plate after a meal, keeping shoes off the couch and furniture, etc…you know, the usual list of rules that us parents like to impose on our kids. She carefully listened at first. When I was done, she asked, ” Why do kids have to follow rules?”. My first response was, “Rules help kids behave responsibly and respectfully so that everyone can get along and enjoy each other’s company.”

That evening, after a nice family dinner, I sat with Vaani to turn on a movie while my husband watched TV in another room. As we got comfortable with our blankets on the couch, she said, “Aunty, do adults have rules too?”. “Of course!”, I answered.

“Do they have the same rules as kids?”, she asked.

“Absolutely!”, I reassured her.

She then went on to say something quite interesting….”Then how come Uncle Harry is not being responsible and respectful? He didn’t pick up his plate AND if you go look, he’s watching TV with his legs stretched out on the table AND he has his shoes on!”, she exclaimed as her little eyes popped in astonishment!

BUSTED! By a 7 year-old! Parents BEWARE…they are watching. They are smarter than we can ever imagine. It is as important to be a “Rule Model” as it is to be a role model. In fact, part of role modeling is rule modeling.

So here are my TOP 3 basic rules that we, the parents, the role models, set for our kids that we must “rule model” as well. The long term consequences of these could be a lot worse than “shoes on the table”!

1. Foul Language: Switch all the inappropriate four letter words so they are not used back at you when the kids are mad. Build a clean, age-appropriate vocabulary for your entire family. When you’re not mad, work on finding alternate words for your times of frustration and anger…for example, some great choice words include: “WOW!”, “REALLY!”, “UNBELIEVABLE!” or better yet, use sounds to fill the space like “UHHH!”, “HMMM”. OR a big grunt always works for me. Sounds help you buy time and release negative energy while tuning down your emotions and responses.

2. House rules: Need I explain? If so, please refer to the example above!

3. Texting while driving: No matter how old they are, they’re watching! If you think you can get away with it once in a while…so will they. Be Mindful.