Developmental Asset #14: Adult Role Models

Whether you are a parent, aunt or uncle, teacher, employer, neighbour, or friend, you are modelling behaviour for the young people around you. All of us can do better when it comes to setting a good example for our youth, so be aware, and keep asking yourself whether you are modelling positive behaviours and attitudes. Here are a few things to keep in mind.


  1. If you are co-parenting, whether in one home or different homes, your relationship with your co-parent is the most important relationship that your child observes. Always do your best to treat one another with respect, to keep healthy communication, and to work together as a team. If conflict arises, keep your children out of it.


  1. Model peaceful problem-solving. Don’t let young people see you yelling, hitting, or using angry words. If a child observes bullying, intimidation, or verbal or physical violence from adults or children, talk to them about it. Discuss how the situation might have been handled differently.


  1. Know when to tell your children that you’re sorry. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it openly and sincerely, and tell them you’ll try to do better in the future. Avoid giving gifts or indulgences if you’re feeling guilty.


  1. If you make a mistake or misstep, if your plans go awry, or if you feel embarrassed, show your youth that you are not afraid to try again. Let them see you persevere, work hard, and stay positive in the face of challenges.


  1. Children should not hear you bad-mouthing people. This might seem obvious, but pay attention. Do you ever speak negatively about rival sports teams, coworkers, or other people with whom you compare or compete? What about bullies who have made life difficult for your children? Save it for when you’re in the company of adults. Young people need to see you modelling respect for others.


RECOMMENDED READING: Just When I Needed You: True Stories of Adults Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Young People by Deborah Fisher


Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.