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Children – teenagers as well as youngsters – naturally look for role models to shape their attitudes and behaviors. As parents, it is important for us to make sure that they have plenty of POSITIVE role models.

There are enough negative role models surrounding our children – and much of the adult world, if not negative, is at best apathetic and mediocre. If we don’t actively focus on positive role models, then these other ones can dampen our children’s natural enthusiasm and optimism.

The first thing to remember about positive role models for your child is the majority of children consider their own parents to be their most important role models. So, the most important thing to focus on is being a great, positive role model yourself.

    • Show your child that you actively work on a positive attitude
    • Let your child see you setting and achieving goals
    • Talk to your child about your own positive role models

One thing to shy away from where role models are concerned – be careful not to overtly criticize when your child has identified with certain role models himself, even if you think they are not positive ones. If your child looks up to an unsavory pop star, your criticism is likely to cause antagonism rather than learning. Instead, provide a balanced point of view by finding something positive to mention about the “hero” – for instance that he must have been very dedicated to his goals to reach his current status. When you need to criticize, be specific and explain what you dislike about the person’s behavior, rather than trying to label them as all bad.

More ways to expand the positive role models available to your child include:

    • Help your child find a role model who has excelled in a field in which your child has a talent or hobby.
    • Talk to your child about social issues and then show them real people – either local to your community, or in the news – who have worked to make a difference.
    • Introduce your child to people you think will be good role models and talk about the admirable qualities of these people.
    • Together with your child, find role models from history and make a scrap book or collage about the ones that excite or interest your child the most.
    • When your child presents a behavior associated with a positive role model, you two have discussed, praise him!
    • Encourage your child to daydream and imagine himself in his hero’s shoes. For example, if your child wants to be a great soccer player, when you take him to the field to practice, suggest that he pretend that he is Lionel Messi for the afternoon.


“No printed word, nor spoken plea can teach young minds what they should be. Not all the books on all the shelves – but what the teachers are themselves.” –Rudyard Kipling