Improve Behavior, p.2
The result? Kids face a potentially overwhelming amount of stimuli. While you can't control the behavior of everyone your child encounters, keep in mind that your own approach to even the most mundane activities, like going to the grocery store or picking up dry cleaning, can teach your child about patience and kindness. "The effective parent is always aware of what she's doing in front of her child," says Charles A. Smith, Ph.D., professor of child development and parenting at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.
That's not to say you should always feel on the spot. "You don't have to be perfect," says Dr. Smith. "If you feel the way you acted in a certain situation set a bad example, you can talk about it with your child afterward." So, for instance, if your little one observes you making up a white lie ("Oh, we can't make it. We have plans"), admit that you messed up and talk about what you could have done differently.
Here are five other things experts say you can do every day that will have a big impact on your child's behavior.
Be a Loving Spouse
"How you treat your partner -- and your own parents -- gives your child important lessons in respect, cooperation, and being willing to negotiate or change your mind," says Sharon L. Ramey, Ph.D., professor of child and family studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Remember to say "please" and "thank you" with loved ones as often as you do with coworkers.
An all-too-familiar scenario: "One or both parents come home absolutely exhausted," says Sharf. "If they don't take it out on each other, they tend to isolate themselves." Instead, establish a ritual if you need to decompress at the end of the day, she suggests. Let everyone know that you need to be alone for 20 minutes, after which your family can trust that you'll be available. In addition, when you and your spouse have a disagreement, talk it through rationally in front of your child (even if you need a few hours to cool off first). That way, your child can learn how adults compromise, negotiate, and consider other people's needs.