Setting a good example for the youth may be challenging, but totally rewarding, if you consistently do it right. Here are some things you can try.
No matter what you do for a living or how you live your life, you will be surprised at how influential you can be to the youth in your life. The world is a troubling place, and the last thing it needs is a new generation of self-entitled jerks.
Do your part and make it a point to be a better role model for the young ones in your life. From cousins and nieces and nephews to younger siblings and kids in your neighborhood, make a difference, and shape young minds any chance you can get.
Considering I’m writing about it, I must have some experience in doing so, right? Well, yes and no. I, for one, have a half-sister who is just about to turn 11. When I was her age, I distinctly remember being very impressionable, and wished I had an older sibling around to serve as a role model.
I remember asking her a year ago, “What are your hobbies?” and her shocking reply was, “I like watching YouTube.” Of course, I was downright stumped. How can a child of 10 not have any hobbies besides watching YouTube?
Her parents are exasperated, and although they haven’t completely given up on encouraging her to partake in other activities, they have come to a point where they find it easier to let her be, than to force her to do something she doesn’t want to.
I suppose you can say that their parenting style relies on the you-are-old-enough-to-choose-what-you-want-to-do method. Although I heartily disagree and think that children need guidance and discipline, it’s certainly not my place to question how they intend to raise their daughter.
So what did I do? I made it my personal mission to shape her into a better person. It was tough, considering I’m a 5-hour plane ride away, but my business trips and travels brought me back to her every couple of months. Did I succeed? Well, it’s certainly too early to tell, and only time will indicate whether I’ve managed to revamp who she is as a person.
How to be a role model for the youngsters around you
In any case, here are some things that I did to push her to actively be a better person. It wasn’t easy at first, but I highly recommend you do the same.
#1 Slash out the vices. Smoking, drinking, and openly talking about drugs and partying should be shelved. This is common sense. If you can’t give up your vices, go right ahead and indulge in them, but be sure to do so on the down low.
The younglings you are trying to shape should be none the wiser when it comes to these actions. Also, remember not to glorify these vices because once the young ones see you stamping your approval on them, they will want to try it the moment they get the chance.
#2 Eat right. Fast food may be fast, but it’s certainly not food. They need to know just how gnarly these options are, and they need to learn how to make informed decisions when it comes to what they consume.
Encourage them to scoff at fast food and to consume fresh produce instead. From substituting soda for fruit juice and replacing burgers with grilled chicken, teach them how to make wiser decisions when it comes to food. Get their parents on board as well because good nutrition starts at home.
You can also scare them a little by showing them videos of how junk food and fast food are made. By learning where chicken McNuggets come from to finding out how much sugar there is in the average soda, make it a point to drill into their heads that you are what you eat. [Read: 8 ways to love your body, no matter its size]
#3 Keep moving. There’s no need to organize a torturous boot camp for your brother and his friends, and neither is there any need to force your niece to swim laps till she cries. So long as you pitch the idea that sports are fun, kids will happily clamber onboard the bandwagon.
Start by organizing one-on-one games like badminton, hopscotch, tennis, and so on. Get them to invite their friends along, and set up mini football or basketball tourneys. You can also bring a couple of them out for a hike or bike ride whenever you get the chance to.
#4 Indulge in hobbies and passions. Make it clear that anything that involves gadgets does not count as a passion or hobby. Playing video games and watching television and online videos are absolute no-nos. This, of course, depends on what they’re watching. If your nephew is watching Planet Earth documentaries online, then let him be. But if your daughter is watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, then stop her now.
The only way to nurture a youngling’s passions and introduce new hobbies to them is to try it out with them. Expose them to everything and anything. From teaching them how to play the guitar to baking a cake with them, do a bunch of different things, and see where they sparkle and shine. When that happens, encourage them to do more of it, and voila, a passion is born. [Read: 11 simple ways to make each day more meaningful]
#5 Inspire them with travel tales. They may be young, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be aware that there’s a big, beautiful world out there. Sure, not many kids are privileged enough to travel until they are much older, but that shouldn’t stop them from learning about what’s out there.
#6 Do good and be kind. Children tend to take after those they respect, so if you gain their trust and show them the importance of being kind, they will follow suit.
Last year for my birthday, I decided to do something different and asked friends and family to donate money to a local animal shelter, instead of showering me with useless presents and drinks at the club. Everyone got on board, and I raised quite a bit of cash.
Unbeknownst to me, my sister decided to do the same for her birthday that year. Instead of a princess birthday party, she got all her friends to donate to the same shelter, and raised a significant amount of money. It was touching how she took it upon herself to exude kindness without being told. She simply followed by example. [Read: 9 ways to get rid of that sense of entitlement]
#7 Treat them like grownups, and teach them to lead. Remember when you were a kid and how you hated it when you were referred to as one? The same thing is happening now with the difference being that kids these days are a lot more exposed and mature than they were 30 years ago. They are a different breed of young people and should be treated as such.
One way to be a good role model to them is to treat them like grownups. Instead of resorting to anger, let them know that their actions have consequences. Expose them to the relationship between the two without trying to “dumb down” your explanation too much.
When you give youngsters the chance to shoulder some responsibility, they will make it a point to prove that they can do it. You breed leaders not by telling them what to do, but by showing them and letting them take the reins.
There are a lot of things that you can do to be a better role model for the youth. Little steps such as letting them know that beauty is not only skin deep and teaching them to value their surroundings will go a long way. You should also teach them to be independent, and let them know that there are far more valuable things in life than money.