How to set a good example for your kids

Sai De Silva is an In The Know parenting contributor. Follow her on Instagram and check out her website for more.

We all know that parenting is hard work. From the day your kids come into the world, you suddenly become hyper-aware of all of the sharp corners in your house, chemicals that need to be placed far out of reach, and the importance of carrying hand sanitizer everywhere you go. In addition to the mental and physical battle of keeping them safe, there’s also your responsibility to make sure they’re getting a good education, learning how to socialize and figuring out how to mold them into good little people.

Navigating the world of child-rearing can be quite a headache if you overthink it, but the truth is, there’s no right way to be a parent. Most of us are just doing our best, and that’s all we can do. However, one thing I’ve realized is that our kids are much more observant than we might expect. They pick up on habits and quirks that we might not even be aware of. That’s why one of the best ways to raise happy, healthy and bright kids is by simply setting a good example for them to follow. 

When they’re little, they naturally want to be like you, so start ‘em young because once they’re teenagers, that may not be the case anymore. Today, I’m sharing how to set a good example for your kids and fast-track positive habit building in your little one’s lives.

Get Active

Monkey see monkey do is definitely true when it comes to the world of exercise. If your kids see that you’re often taking time to go for walks, runs, hit the gym or do some type of physical activity, they’ll naturally want to do the same. This will make them more inclined to join a sport or choose to get outside over sitting in front of a screen. They watch your habits, so make sure you’re in the habit of staying active if you want to raise kids who do the same.

Value Your Friendships

Making friends is a sacred rite of passage when you’re a kid, and the social skills they develop early on can last for a lifetime. If your children see that you truly value and appreciate your friends — whether it be via in-person interactions or through the way you talk about your closest pals — they’ll naturally learn the importance of creating friendships and set out to do so.

Eat Well & With Gusto

Eating healthy is very important to me and something I’m adamant about instilling in my kids. I think it’s crucial to show them how to choose whole foods and help them develop a palette for fruits, veggies, whole grains and good proteins. The tricky part is to let them be kids, as well. Too much restriction can make them rebel at a later age. If your kids see that you’re always on a diet or always overeating, these are tendencies they can pick up on early on.  By eating well yourself and showing them the beauty of treats in moderation, you’re setting them up for a positive relationship with food and possibly an appreciation for nourishment.

Be Kind To Strangers

It’s a beautiful thing to teach your children to be kind to others and even more so when it comes to being kind to people you don’t know. Sure, they need to learn not to talk to strangers when you’re not around, but the way you interact with people from grocery store clerks to taxi drivers to waiters and waitresses will teach them to have good manners and treat all human beings with respect. I personally like to joke with people not only to brighten their day but also to set an example for my kids. Kindness and humor go a long way.

Police Your Self Talk

This is a big one. What you say to yourself and your attitude towards yourself are crucial for teaching your kiddos about self-esteem. Even if you’re constantly smothering your kids with compliments and praise, if you turn around and berate yourself for not being thin enough, chic enough or fill-in-the-blank enough, your children are sure to take notice. It’s so important to be kind to yourself and practice a positive self-image in all realms of your life.

Laugh At Yourself

In the Scout household, we live by a golden rule: not to take ourselves too seriously. Whether you just spilled pasta sauce all over the kitchen counter, the roof is leaking like crazy or you’re just having a rough week, being able to take a step back and take things lightly is a superpower that your kids will pick up on. Too much stress hangs in the air and makes situations feel heavy. Being goofy will always help you stay on the bright side of life, and your kids will follow suit.


Telling your kids about the importance of reading and enjoying books is one thing. Being spotted often on the couch with a book in your hand is another. If your kids see you choosing to spend your free time reading, they’re more likely to develop the habit as well. If you think about it, it’s basically a parenting hack to help them learn on their own.

Pursue Your Passions

Finally, as a parent, your attitude towards your overall lifestyle is something that your kids will naturally absorb. If they see that you work to pay the bills and leave little time for the things you love, they may believe that this is the only option for them. Taking time to pursue your passions — whether it’s for a living or as a hobby — will give them permission to explore what they love as well. Passion is contagious, and when you’re around people who feel inspired by their day-to-day life, it makes you want to carve out your own path. That kind of energy can only be a good thing, and if you let yourself pursue those passions, your kids will learn to follow what makes their hearts sing as well.

At the end of the day, a lot of the art of parenting boils down to the relationships we have with ourselves. Sometimes the best way to teach your kids how to evolve into happy and healthy adults is by first being one yourself.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Sai De Silva’s 5 tips for creating a happy home environment!

More from In The Know: 

This fake Disney tattoo could save your child’s life at the park this summer

This tiny device is the $20 trick to keep mosquitoes away all summer

The giant pool float that had a 10,000-person waitlist is finally back in stock

Bride plays ‘shoe game’ with sister at wedding to reveal they’re both pregnant: ‘I got goosebumps’

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: