One of the seven youngsters I ‘foster’ recently told me that he has developed a smoking habit and that he has had a few nights drinking alcohol with his uncle.
Although this came as a shock, I actually felt relieved, you see it did not come as to much of a surprise, I had envisaged a lot worse. Over the past 5 weeks the lad has been acting up, skipping sport practice, become untidy in his personal environment, unhygienic and getting into all sorts of silly trouble at school.
This got me thinking, could this be peer pressure? Or could the problem be closer to home?

As per the website
As a child ventures out and experiences the world around him, several influencing factors help shape him into the person he will eventually become. Thankfully, parents still sit at the top of the list of the important and powerful role models in a child’s life. As a parent, you have a few key advantages that other role models and environmental factors do not have.

Trust
Since your child came into this world, he has entrusted you to meet his basic needs. Feeding, changing and nurturing him during his early days have all helped establish a foundation of trust, safety and security between the two of you. As a result, your child will look up to you. He believes that you will encourage him and show him the correct way to approach the world. He will count on you to show him which situations, actions and behaviours are appropriate and safe.

The Learning Process
Young children mimic what they see. Mimicry is part of how children master certain skills. If your child sees you doing something or acting a certain way, he is bound to try to do the same. For instance, if he sees you eating healthy foods, he will do the same. When a parent is a smoker, the child might hold up a pencil and pretend he is doing the same. For this reason, you should be conscious of which behaviours you exhibit in your daily life, especially when your child is present.

Quantity of Time
In most cases, especially during the younger years, children are around their parents more than they are around any other person. The quantity of time you spend with your child influences how and what he learns, since you are dictating his exposure to the world. When he learns from a positive role model, this cuts down on the time that he would need to spend learning from other influencing factors. For example, if you are a stay-at-home parent, chances are that he will adopt your mannerisms and look up to you more than he would look up to a person he does not see as often, such as a grandparent.

You’re Real
Superheroes, cartoon characters or any other fictitious people that your child looks up to are, well, not real. You, on the other hand, are real. It is normal for a child to idealize superheroes and the like, but when it comes down to it, the child can relate to you more because you live in this world. As a parent, you make mistakes and deal with real-life situations. Instead of covering up that you have made mistakes, you have an ideal opportunity to show your child how to effectively use problem-solving skills, learn from mistakes and how to communicate effectively.

References
Why are Parents Role Models for Children?:
http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/parents-role-models-children-5128.html
Zero to Three: Self Confidence
New Hanover County Schools: Parents as Role Models for Children’s Behavior
HealthyChildren.org: Positive Parenting: How To Encourage Good Behavior
The American Academy of Pediatrics; Introduction to Mentorship: Learn How to Utilize Mentorship Effectively; Daniel A. Rauch, MD, FAAP, FHM
Parenting Exchange; Parents Are Powerful Role Models for Children; Karen Stephens
Iowa Department of Education; Being a Role Model for School Wellness: How Parents Can Be Good Role Models?
About the Author
Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.

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