Setting By Example: Model Behavior You Would Like Your Children To Emulate

Silver Hill Hospital Adolescent Consultant discusses the impact adult behavior has on the future behavior of children.

All adults, including parents, coaches and teachers, are important role models for kids. It is by example that we teach them to celebrate victory and accept disappointment. They idealize and emulate us.

Much of the research shows that the influence of adult role models may even surpass that of siblings, peers, and celebrities in the lives of their children. What would we say if a professional team engaged in destructive behavior each time they lost?

From us, children learn there is no reason to hide evidence of a perceived failure. In fact, learning to accept failure gracefully is a key to future success. Honestly admitting to the failure is a sign of maturity. More importantly, we need to think about exactly what we want our children to think of as failure. Games that are fought hard and lost are just as honorable as games that are won. We all know that is an incredibly important life lesson because we can’t all win all the time.

Yes, it is our responsibility to motivate our kids. We just need to remember that whatever we do, they will copy it.  Do we really want them to learn to set a less-than-perfect job review on fire? What will that get them later in life? Is this how we want them to manage all future disappointments?

Children are not as sophisticated as adults and cannot necessarily discern the difference between situations. They do not understand the difference between the playing field and the rest of life. If you did think it was acceptable to burn the trophies, take some time and explain to your child when this behavior may not be appropriate. As adults, our responsibility is to model behaviors that we think will serve our children well later in life. 

-- Barbara R. Greenberg, Ph.D.
    Adolescent Consultant
    Silver Hill Hospital


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Charley Pitcher December 17, 2011 at 02:37 PM
nothing like deleting the truth!
Ron orson December 17, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Ron orson December 17, 2011 at 03:15 PM
SO burning trophy's is OK. When PIGS FLY. This is why i never support the Schools come budget time. Giving this school system 1.3 MILLION BUCKS and have coached condone and support this is Beyond comprehension. Anyone that thinks this is ok is has sereyous judgement issues. Read the above post and tell me if this is OK????????????
Mark Hallen December 18, 2011 at 10:53 AM
Still, these kids wil learn how adults should really act when they leave the nest and go to respected colleges like Penn State and Syracuse.
sebastian dangerfield December 18, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Lets all think of obviously wrong things, that are SO outside the norm that they make NATIONAL news, and then hold them up as examples we should not follow. Whenever people mention Penn State, or Bernie Madoff or a coach that punches his son, and then "this is what is wrong," 1) really? ya think? 2) these are not the norms, they have never been nor will they ever be examples of who we are. What we need to understand is the positives and negatives about teaching that winning is important. Anyone who thinks that coaching to win is wrong, is also wrong. It cannot be the soul focus, I agree, but encouraging behavior that results in success is not wrong. What is wrong is encouraging an attitude that winning, by playing outside the lines is satisfactory.
Pam Georgas December 18, 2011 at 03:48 PM
I would be one of the first in line to say we coddle our children too much these days. But burning trophies?, that is just absurd behavior to encourage. It is essentially teaching our children to throw a temper tantrum when they don't get what they want. They should be taught to congratulate the winners for a competitive game, and then move forward, and put in some extra practice, etc.
06840 December 18, 2011 at 05:11 PM
I think some parents desperately try to downplay these types of incidents. But look at what has happened locally, - Coach for Ridgefield team punches umpire. - Westport girl LAX player banned for playing... LAX. - Ridgefield youth football booted from league. - Discussions of parents making racial slurs on the sidelines. Try to dismiss it, but the stories are there. And notice the common theme? The kids aren't the problem, the kids are just trying to kick a ball down the field. But when some aggressive parents get involved, that's when it seems to go wrong. I think parents should leave the kids alone. Let the kids play and the parents should find a different hobby of their own.
Pam Georgas December 18, 2011 at 05:37 PM
06840, Exactly, so many of these parents are living vicariously through their children, behave poorly at games, screaming on the sides. These over zealous parents should find an adult sports league, there are plenty out there!... and have your children watch you play. I bet they won't punch an umpire, or scream if a game is lost.
LJ December 19, 2011 at 02:49 PM
C'mon CP. Do you honestly believe what you write? Or are you trying to be so inflammatory (pun intended) just to be different? This team finished the season 7-2-1. They lost in the SEMI-FINALS! But there were 2 teams that finished the year ahead of them. So what? This is a group of kids that, for the most part, hasn't had to deal with losing since 3rd grade. So at the first instance of defeat, they're TOLD (in some cases against their will) to burn their trophies? Stop. It's the wrong reaction to losing. Period. I can think of dozens of ways to "teach those kids a valuable lesson" that does not involve burning things. And stop saying it's ok if they are burning their own trophies and not others' trophies. It's a flawed argument. These kids are at an impressionable age- and that's the reason these coaches and other coaches volunteer- so they can "teach" kids. This was a perfect opportunity to teach them to hold their heads high, be proud, and work harder. And by the way, the coaches have since admitted it was the wrong thing to do- and that it was a "lack of judgement on our part"- so why are you supporting people who, upon further review, don't support their own actions?
Connecticut Patrician December 19, 2011 at 03:50 PM
what else could they say? they were forced to by a lynch mob....the issue here is it was no big deal--but some people turned it into one by running to the police ---let's empower the police state more--great idea. If there were parents who had an issue with it, then the parents (especially the fathers) should have spoken to the coaches directly--and it should have ended there. I am no longer commenting about this topic....Merry Christmas to you and to your family.
LJ December 19, 2011 at 04:11 PM
CP... you're still missing the point (I hear you, you're done commenting). Let's just say this incident was never brought to the attention of the police, never mentioned to the papers or that lunatic "Coach Tony" on ESPN radio. The point is- it's the wrong response to losing. On a smaller scale, if little Timmy brings home a B-minus on an exam (is that the equivalent of 3rd place?), I would hope the parent would say- "Well, Timmy... go over what you got wrong, and learn from your mistakes so you don't repeat them"- instead of "Well, Timmy... take your exam on the back patio and light it on fire, to erase the memory of your B-minus." Enough I guess. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.
Larry December 19, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Hey Connecticut Patrician---Take your crazy someplace else, we're full here.
Amy V December 19, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Burning anything could be very dangerous . . . my goodness! Starting fires is never a good idea outside of a fireplace! Thankfully no one got hurt! It's so immature to think that that type of behavior is okay, let alone commendable! This is a big reason why I have little interest in my kids (who are only going on 2 and 5 years old at this point) being very involved in sports (and I'm a VERY active person who values physical activity). There are so many other things to do and learn about in life that have farther reaching application. I'd prefer to avoid my kids being subject to or actually learning something from the highly unevolved behavior and practices of the sports elite!
Pam Georgas December 19, 2011 at 05:17 PM
I think the point is the coach(s?) acted poorly, they should apologize to the kids, and replace the trophies (if they haven't already), just as a gesture that they were wrong. Adults make mistakes, too, and should simply own up to their mistake, so everyone can move forward. I remember when I was grew up in New Canaan, when I was about 8 or 9yrs old, the music teacher tore my notebook in half in front of the class, because she thought I was talking in class (it was actually the girl behind me) I don't believe she even apologized for her mistake, and I ended up having to rewrite the entire years notes over again, to replace the notebook. Did it ruin my life?, no, but it is an elementary school memory that stands out, because it showed poor behavior by an adult. It was the first time I realized adults are not 'perfect', and make mistakes, too. That is the lesson these kids should be able to walk away with here.
Connecticut Patrician December 19, 2011 at 06:28 PM
LJ, my biggest issue was the calling of police etc etc....why can't people handle such situations on their own anymore? But I do agree with you on some points..all the best.
Connecticut Patrician December 19, 2011 at 06:30 PM
so the only fire that is acceptable to Amy V is if it's happening in a fireplace---so bonfires on the beach are out for you I guess---wow...keep your kids away from paper, scissors, forks, spoons, etc....
Connecticut Patrician December 19, 2011 at 06:31 PM
I applaud that teacher---those years are over----sad.
Pam Georgas December 19, 2011 at 06:38 PM
You applaud the teacher for an impulsive action and punishing the wrong child? Well, I am glad that Trumbull isn't the only one with crazy people.... Help, Aaron!....Am I on Trumbull Patch or New Canaan Patch, I can't tell the difference any more. Drama is drama no matter the town.
Connecticut Patrician December 19, 2011 at 06:47 PM
yes---because it was no big deal---you said it yourself---are you scarred for life? ruined? I don't think so. So she made a mistake thinking it was you doing the talking...and????? If you smacked your face or took a paddle to your butt--then it would be wrong....but ripping up your notebook???? come on
Pam Georgas December 19, 2011 at 06:55 PM
it wasn't an 'empty' note book, so i had to spend hours recreating the notes from the year. The teacher should have spent her free time recreating it for me...fair is fair. I am not scarred, but what I learned is Adults make mistakes and should own up to them, same as kids.
Amo Probus December 19, 2011 at 07:29 PM
I am torn on this one: Half of me says: If we don't get an "A" lets burn the books and the other half says let's always shoot for the moon...
Pam Georgas December 19, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Is cross-town blogging allowed? Now that i have somehow landed on New Canaan Patch, I would like to bring up a topic for discussion, that I think the fine folks of New Canaan might be able to help with. I chair a Trumbuil Town commission that was charged with creating a self-funded (501c3) Nature & Arts education Center. We have been running Nature & Art programs for several years out of an old town owned building, but have grown to the point where we need to build a center to better accommodate the demand. Of course any change comes with controversy, and varying opinions. New Canaan being a town that has a beautiful Nature center and a separate Arts center (in Waveny carriage barns) may have some insight as to the value of having these types of cultural assets within their community, and housed within their park system. Any insight, advice on this subject would be appreciated. Are these 2 facilities well utilized, and appreciated in your community? do your schools, families, and scouts value the programs? Does your community use them frequently to hold cultural events, art shows, nature/environmental exhibits, etc? I think linking conversations between towns could be valuable, towns can learn from each other, sharing experiences of Initiatives that have succeeded or failed.
Jane Preziosi December 19, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Pam Georgas, Thanks for your comments! Regarding cross-posting, this "Local Voices" blog originates in New Canaan, the home of Silver Hill Hospital. Given the universal nature of the subjects they address, it is also run on other Patch sites in our area. So yes, you will see comments from many towns here. The nature and arts center you're working on in Trumbull sounds fantastic. You're right, we're really lucky in New Canaan to have great organizations dedicated to these pursuits. The New Canaan Nature Center, Carriage Barn Arts Center and Powerhouse Theatre are great town assets. I will ask theses organizations and New Canaan residents to reach out and give you more info. Watch this space for more detail!
Elmcrest December 20, 2011 at 08:42 AM
Pam -- "Connecticut Patrician" lives in Stamford, not New Canaan. But it doesn't matter where she lives or where you live or where I live... she's always happy to "correct" you over and over again in abusive posts, even long after she's said she's "no longer commenting" on a topic. "Sad."
RFH December 20, 2011 at 11:47 AM
Jeff M December 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM
CP... you said ...I am no longer commenting about this topic.... Please stick to your promises. This thread and the others to which you contribute would be very appreciative. Larry got it right.
Jeff M December 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Receiving you 5x5. Cleared to land.
Pam Georgas December 20, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Thanks Jane. I spoke to Aaron from Trumbull Patch about this as well. I will write a brief blog on our initiative, and create a cross-town topic, and hopefully we can get some insight from other communities like New Canaan, Darien, Stamford, etc. that have Nature/Environment/Art/Cultural 'centers' within their communities. If you have individual contacts for these organizations, that would be helpful as well.
RFH December 20, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Criminals ? Really ! @tigerrod Rod Fox Happy Thanksgiving to all. Great beat down vs the criminals #triptothane #turkeycomas
Jane Preziosi December 20, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Wonderful, Pam. I'm sure you will get some great ideas from all these towns.


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