As a parent, you probably know first-hand how quickly your kids pick up on what you say and how you act. Despite the fact that your teenage son may roll his eyes at you when you express you opinion and your tween daughter tends to ignore your repeated requests to clean her room, your kids really are paying attention and will emulate whatever you do.
This is why no matter how busy we are or how much we feel our children are not watching us, it is important to set a good example for our kids 24/7. The following five examples are great ways to set a solid ethical example for your kids—which they in turn will be inspired to do as well:
1. Buy Gently Used Items
Regardless of how much money you make, you want to be smart with your money and teach your kids to be the same way. By purchasing secondhand clothing, home goods and pre-owned vehicles whenever you can, you show your children that you value and respect your money and you can find name-brand items for pennies on the dollar. In addition, buying secondhand is also better for the environment. Talk to your kids and explain that buying pre-owned clothes helps to reduce textile waste, and is an eco-friendly way to shop. They may be surprised to learn that it takes around 1,800 gallons of water to make one pair of blue jeans; if they find a gently used pair they love at a secondhand store, that H2O can be used for drinking water and other uses.
2. Recycle Whenever You Can
Another great way to set a good example for your kids is by recycling whatever and whenever you can. If you have younger children, try creating an area in your home that is devoted to recycling; they can pick out different colored bins and decide what items go in which ones. Explain to them the many benefits that recycling has on the Earth; for instance that recycling just one soda can will save enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for 20 hours, according to the EPA.
3. Donate to Charities, But Do Your Homework First
Kids who see their parents act in a philanthropic way may be more inclined to donate some of their own money to worthy charities. Talk with your children and explain that you’d like to make a donation to at least one non-profit organization, and ask them for ideas on who they’d like to support. Before making the donation, tell your kiddos that it’s important to spend some time researching the charity to be sure it is legitimate, and that your money will go to support the cause and not just fatten up the CEO’s wallet. Depending on the ages of your kids, they can help you do this research; start by Googling the non-profit’s name to look for potentially worrisome news stories, and check out the website to see their annual financial report and how they spend their money.
4. Conserve the Earth’s Natural Resources
When you brush your teeth at night, turn the water off—your kids will take notice and probably do the same. By taking seemingly simple steps like that, you will not only conserve the Earth’s precious natural resources, but also teach your kids to follow suit. Other examples include buying a pre-owned hybrid car, adding solar panels to your home’s roof and switching your home to a smart thermostat and lighting system that will use less power.
5. Only Work for Reliable Companies
When you are looking for a new job, spend some time researching it, just as you did the charities that you want to support. Show your kids that your time and good name are both highly valuable, and you don’t want to be part of a company that is not deserving of you and your skills. For instance, if you would like to get into direct sales and earn some money while the kids are at school and after-school clubs, Amway is a great and reputable option. If your children have questions about what you will be doing, sit down with them and explain not only how to sell Amway products. The question “Is Amway a pyramid scheme?” is a question that you yourself may have that the company has taken the time to address.
Let your kids know that before you every apply for a job, you will do your due diligence and make sure the company is reputable—when they are ready to start applying for work someday, they will probably do the same.
Your Kids are Like Sponges—Use this Trait to Your Advantage
Believe it or not, your kids really do want to learn from you, and they are likely to copy what you say and do. By remembering that you share your home with a number of figurative sponges who absorb your actions and words all day long, and focusing on setting a good example, you will enjoy watching as your children grow up and make similar responsible decisions.