The importance of parents as role models

May 12, 2016

in Early Learning, Maths, Raising children

Parents who want the best for their child have high expectations and tend to enrol their kids in many activities: gymnastics, Mandarin classes, computer programming, martial arts, maths camps, you name it. If you have a clever child, at some point they might ask themselves: hang on, why am I running from one activity to the next, while my mum or dad do nothing but take me there? I don’t see my mum doing martial arts or learning Mandarin, why should I?

I think it is easy as a parent to forget to develop your own skills and put all your hopes into your young child who will one day be amazing. But kids need role models, too, and they need to see that adults in real life learn languages or practice martial arts to be motivated. Don’t give yourself up just because you are 35 or 40 already – most of us parents still have (hopefully) 30 or 40 or 50 years to live, and we need to realise our potential, too, not just our kids.

The best way to motivate your kids to be active and learn new things is to be doing the same as a parent. I challenge all the “helicopter parents” out there to engage in a program as busy as their kids’. In this spirit, I have recently enrolled in a Russian course, a language I started learning at university but then gave up. It is great fun and I am progressing well. Since my kids will start martial arts training soon, I am also planning to take up Karate. How can I tell my 6 year old daughter how important it is that she can defend herself one day if I can’t actually defend myself? How can I expect her to have a black belt by the time she is a teenager if I still can’t motivate myself to go to the dojo?

What I have started already are fitness classes (kickboxing, pilates, power plate, circuit training) as I am seriously unfit after 6 years of motherhood. But in a month or so, I will finally get started. I saw the effectiveness of this approach last weekend already. My daughter does gymnastics on Sunday mornings and last Sunday she was feeling tired and lazy and said she did not want to go to gymnastics. But I got dressed in my gym gear, getting ready for my own workout, and told her that I was off to my own gymnastics class now and that daddy was going to take her to her gymnastics class. She got really excited and amused that mummy was also doing gymnastics, smiled and ran to get her leotard.

If you feel your child is not motivated to read, do maths or engage in sports, make sure you are a good role model and work on yourself! Learning is for life, and parents need to fulfil their potential, too. How are you going to inspire your kids?

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