6 Things Your Kids Learn by What You Do, Not What You Say

There are a few moments in every parent’s life when we wish
we could lead by instruction instead of example.

“I can drink out of the milk carton right now, but you need
to pretend you never saw this.”

It’s at these moments when we realize that what we do is
usually a lot more important than what we say. Words are important, for sure,
but they aren’t quite as powerful as actions.

With that said, none of us are ever going to be perfect.
There are going to be times when we drink out of the milk carton or neglect to
put the cap back on the toothpaste. When our kids have kids, they’ll do the
same. These things are all okay because we’re human.

But there are a few important lessons that we should not compromise.
Try to remain consistent with these six things, so your children will
understand how
to handle them as adults.

Find healthy outlets for stress

From the time our children are
born, it’s abundantly clear that they don’t have the skills to deal with
stress. These things are learned, and our kids are learning by example.

This is a case where talk and
action go hand-in-hand. When you’re feeling stressed, talk to your kids about
your feelings and how you choose to handle them. Then, try to engage your
children in healthy
stress-busting activities
. You may do breathing exercises or yoga together.
You may also spend some time talking about stress and your feelings. These
things will make you feel better, and they’ll teach your children the
increasingly-important skill of coping with stress.

Form a healthy relationship with alcohol

Like it or not, your relationship
with alcohol and/or medications will shape your child’s future relationship
with these things. If you suspect you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, get
it in check now. Not only will this be good for your health and wellbeing, but
you can start setting a good example for your children.

If you don’t do drugs and drink
alcohol in moderation, you’re well on your way to setting a good example. But
your efforts don’t have to stop there. Talk to your kids about alcohol and the
dangers of addiction
and underage drinking. If your kids know you disapprove, they will be less
likely to have problems with drugs or alcohol.

Handle anger and conflict constructively

Have you ever known someone with a
true anger management problem? There’s a good chance their behavior was
inherited from a parent or guardian. Our children look to us to learn how to
deal with anger. If we let our anger run wild whenever someone frustrates us,
they will probably do the same. After all, it is what they’ve learned is

This is especially important in
the toddler years when kids are first learning how to handle their emotions.
Most toddlers will throw a fit when they get angry, frustrated or confused.
They do this because they’re overwhelmed with feeling. Instead of meeting their
fit with one of your own, try to keep a cool head. Let them know that it’s okay
to feel whatever they are feeling, and ask them if they want to talk. If not,
it’s okay to give them a little space. This is a skill that takes a lot of
practice, and the more they see you keeping cool, the easier it’ll be for them
to do the same.

Eat well

In an age when processed foods are
everywhere, it’s important to set a good example for our children about proper
nutrition. Of course, it’s okay to have a takeout night or to cook from a box
every now and again – as long as it’s not the norm. 

Let your kids see you cooking and invite
them to help with the process. As they become more involved, cooking and eating
well will become habits for them. This is an important area to lead by example
because nutrition isn’t something we can expect our kids to think about. They
will simply see and do. 

Exercise regularly

Kids may spend a lot of time
exercising through outdoor play, and that’s great, but it doesn’t let us
parents off the hook. If they see that you’re inactive, that’s what they’ll
think of adults. When they become adults themselves and shed their playtime
routines, they’re likely to become as active or inactive as you have been.

Manage your money

When kids are old enough, you can
show them how to manage
their own money
, but it’s also important to show them how you manage yours.
If your children know you’re spending your last dime on a purse for you or a
toy for them, they’ll think that’s okay. Their relationship with money starts
much sooner than most people realize, so try your best to set a good example.

When we expect our children to “do as we say, not as we do,”
it sends a mixed message. They naturally look to you for leadership, so send a
clear and concise message by leading by example.


  1. tannawings
    December 30, 2017 / 4:36 am

    All very true. I remember a poem I think it was our 5th grade teacher had up on the wall, and I recall reading it a lot as I sat right beside it all day. It pretty much sums it up:Children Learn What They LiveBy Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.If children live with fairness, they learn justice.If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

  2. Janet W.
    January 4, 2018 / 1:15 pm

    Leading by example is such an important thing to remember when you have children in your life. Being a good role model for children will help them to develop those qualities you want children to have.

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