The Modeling Tool is simple. It is our job to model the behavior that we want our kids to have. We are walking examples of the character traits that we hope to instill in our children–love, kindness, respect, patience, honesty, integrity, empathy, compassion, generosity, etc. It is not OK for us to demand respect from our children and then treat our children disrespectfully. Yes, we are in loving authority over them (don’t hear me saying that we aren’t), but we can still do that respectfully.
The application of The Modeling Tool is simple too. If you want your kids to be respectful, then you need to be respectful towards them. But you also need to be respectful towards your spouse, your dog, your neighbor, your friends, your waitress, your check-out clerk, and even to strangers. Your kids are watching you so closely and mimicking exactly what you say and do! They will follow your lead. Lead them to love!
Here are some things to try:
- Use manners often. Say “please” when asking your kids to do something. Say “thank you” when they do it.
- Any time you do something for others, let them know which character trait you are modeling.
- “Kids, I’m going to be thoughtful and shovel our neighbor’s driveway.”
- “Kids, I’m going to be helpful, and bring a new mom a meal.”
- “Kids, I’m going to be truthful and tell daddy I accidentally broke the remote.”
I was standing up snuggling my crying infant, rocking him, and bouncing him back and forth and saying “Shhhh, shhhhh, shhhh, shhhh.” I looked down next to me and saw his big sister in her little sleeper pajamas holding her plastic dinosaur, Rory…snuggling, rocking, bouncing, and saying “Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh, shhhh”. I looked down and smiled. She was only two years old, and I was already seeing the tremendous influence I had on this little human being. Still to this day, I see evidence of my words and actions being mimicked. Some of it is great like, “Come on, guys, we are a team!” And some of it is not so great. Even though I’m not the perfect, I take my role in shaping my children’s words and actions very seriously.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22
Lord, as we model character traits to our kids each and every day, lead our hearts to focus on the fruit of the Spirit. Instead of hatefulness, bring love…instead of busyness, bring peace…instead of short-temperedness, bring patience…instead of disrespectfulness, bring kindness…instead of selfishness, bring goodness…instead of fearfulness, bring faithfulness…instead of aggressiveness, bring gentleness…instead of out-of-control-ness, bring self-control.