There are things we don’t want our kids to do. We set up rules. We create punishments. We supervise them closely. It works…to a degree, but it’s also exhausting. Meanwhile, we neglect—as we’ve discussed a thousand times—the most powerful deterrent and the most influential motivator: Our own actions.
“Fathers ought above all,” Plutarch tells us, “by not misbehaving and by doing as they ought to do, to make themselves a manifest example to their children, so that the latter, by looking at their father’s lives as at a mirror, may be deterred from disgraceful deeds and words. For those who are themselves involved in the same errors as those for which they rebuke their erring sons, unwittingly accuse themselves in their sons’ names.”
Our kids can’t always understand what we tell them. They don’t always grasp the reasons or the logic of the consequences levied upon them. That’s because the reason and logic we use to make those rules and set those punishments is beyond the capacity of most young children.
They do watch us, though. They see what we are doing. They see what we get away with. They see what we value—and don’t value. And they have no problem understanding what their eyes are telling them.
Actions speak louder than words. We tell them that. We also show them that.
If you don’t want them to do something, if you want to deter them from something, let your actions be the guide. Let your life both spur them and deter them. Be their inspiration.
“Thou Shall Teach By Example” is the 1st commandment in The Stoic Parent: 10 Commandments For Becoming A Better Parent. If you want to take your parenting to the next level, The Stoic Parent course is 10 days of the most important things that you can do to become the best parent you can be. If you want to learn to better teach by example, sign up for The Stoic Parent today!