10 Tips for Teen Role Models
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Jaime Walden
If you’re a Savvy Auntie to a teen niece or nephew with younger siblings and cousins, then you may have noticed some tension. After all, younger children often idolize older kids and want to spend time with them, and teens often just want to be left alone. But what your teen nieces and nephews may not know is that younger kids like to emulate their behavior, for better or for worse. Inspiring your teen nieces and nephews to think of themselves as role models will empower them with a positive influence over the younger brood.
When the term role model comes up most people think of celebrities, athletes, artists and heroes. The word “teenager” may not be the first thing that comes to mind. So what can Savvy Aunties do to help the teens in our lives understand the importance of their role? We can teach them that character is actually how they act when no one is looking. If they grasp this, rather than trying to remember to change their actions when certain people are present, learning to be a good role model can be an easier task.
Here are 10 tips to share with the teen in your life on being a good role model:
1. Remember to set a good example by being kind, polite, respectful and helpful on a day-to-day basis, not just when the younger kids are around. They’ll hear their parents say things like: “Megan is such a kind young woman. I asked her to watch the kids while I ran to the store, and she did, without complaining. I really appreciate that.” The young kids may want to emulate that kind of kindness next time their mom asks for help.
2. If you are in the middle of a chore or homework and they are bothering you, ask them nicely to give you some time alone. Sometimes they don’t realize they are bothering you. It may be best to include them in your activity if possible. Inclusiveness is a wonderful thing and may encourage them to include all their classmates in an activity at recess.
3. Try to avoid harsh words. Keep in mind you are the example. If you do lash out, quickly apologize. They'll learn to do the same.
4. Play! Play! Play! It makes younger kids feel important when you take time to play with them. Even offering one game of tag can mean so much to them.
5. There’s a difference between being in charge and being bossy. If the younger kids are solely in your care, you are the boss. They’ll want to feel safe with you. But think of it as guiding them, not telling them what to do. You don’t want them to turn around and boss their friends around.
6. Be yourself. Being an individual is important. Stand up for what you believe in and show confidence in who you are and what you do. Lead rather than follow, and they will too.
7. Don’t tease or bully the younger ones, or your friends. They will think that’s acceptable behavior.
8. Be a friend. You can be another emotional support for them by just listening or giving good advice or suggestions. They'll begin to do the same with their peers as they get older.
9. Have bad habits? Don’t let them show in front of the younger kids. They are watching and learning, the good and the bad.
10. Give them unconditional love so they learn how to show it to their younger siblings and cousins too.
A little secret, Auntie? While you are helping the teen in your life learn to be good role model, they are in turn watching and listening to all you say and do as well. Inspiring others with good is something they’ll mirror too.
Published: February 22, 2012