10 Situations Where Adults Often Model Bad Behaviors to Kids

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As parents I know we like to think that we do no wrong, but have you ever thought about the fact that kids learn by example?  How many times a day would you say that you get after your kids about something?  Where are they learning those behaviors?  I know we’d like to think that they get it from their friends, but I think if you really thought about it that you might find that they are getting their bad examples from you.  Check out 10 situations where adults often model bad behaviors to kids.

  1. Texting while driving: I know I’m guilty of this.  I think that I only read a text while I’m driving, but I write back when I’m stopped at the stoplight.  Do you think the kids know the difference?  The slight nuance of only texting while you are stopped?  Or do they just see your cell phone in your hand?  If we want our kids to be safe when they become drivers we have to model responsible texting behaviors now.
  2. Road rage: Unfortunately I am very guilty of this one.  I’m always yelling at drivers when they do things that irritate me.  I try not to use profanity when the kids are in the car with me, but I know they are listening because I’ve heard my then six year old telling the driver of the car in front of me to get out of our way because we’re in a hurry.  At the time I think I told her that only the driver gets to do that.  But I was thinking that I was not setting a very good example for my kids.
  3. Playing a game: How many times have you gotten upset when you were playing a game as a family?  This can range from calling each other punk when they play the third draw card in a row while playing Uno to refusing to play the game anymore because you lost.  I’ve seen both of these and many more.  It’s important to remember that it’s just a game and it doesn’t really matter.  If your kids see you losing your cool over a simple card game then how can we get upset with them when they do the same thing at school or with their friends?
  4. Kids Sporting Event: Parents can get so riled up over a what they perceive to be a bad call at a soccer game, football game, insert sport here game that it’s unreal.  We were at a soccer tournament with my 10 year old son.  The parents of the other team got so upset at the officials that the off-duty police officers had to come and escort them to their next game.  They were yelling at our parents as well and it was all we could do to get all of our parents out of there before it came to blows.  The kids saw this happen and we wonder why you see poor sportsmanship on the field.
  5. Waiting in line: Some people are very time intolerant.  They would rather do almost anything other than stand in a long line.  It’s not my favorite way to spend my time either, but it doesn’t bother me.  What kind of behavior are you modeling for your kids when you keep complaining that the line is too long and this is all a big waste of time etc.?  You need to act like you would want them to act.
  6. Eating out: I think we’d all like to think we are raising kids who treat everyone fairly and courteously.  But what kind of example are you setting when you get upset with the waitress for messing up your order?  I’ve seen people get really angry with wait staff if their food is taking too long or if their order is wrong.  First of all, keep in mind that your children are watching you verbally abuse this stranger over food.  Secondly, keep in mind that that person that you are yelling at did not make the food.  They just brought it out to you.  And even if they put the order in wrong, I don’t think any of us can say that we’ve never made a mistake.
  7. Smoking: Every time an adult picks up a cigarette they are modeling bad behavior.  Cigarettes are poison and very unhealthy.  Again, kids learn by example so if you smoke what makes you think that they won’t start that bad habit too?
  8. Drinking excessively: Many times adults will over indulge at home or at a party.  Their kids see them acting in a weird way.  Kids have no idea why mommy or daddy is acting this way.  This can be very scary for kids and it doesn’t send a great message to the kids.  It gives them the idea that to have a good time you need to drink large amounts of alcohol.
  9. Yelling: We don’t want our children to yell at their teacher or us do we?  I’m pretty sure we don’t even want them to yell at each other.  When we yell at our children we are modeling bad behavior.  Again, kids learn by example.
  10. Hitting: It never ceases to amaze me that parents are surprised that their kids hit other kids at the park.  “I just don’t know why Johnny just hit your daughter?  He’s never been a hitter.”  No, but I’m sure that Johnny has been swatted a time a two since the first thing this mom did was smack him on the butt for hitting my child.  I wonder where he got the idea that hitting was the thing to do.


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