It's all about getting your kid to look up to you — instead of athletes and celebrities.
It's interesting to me that we all, not just children, idolize people who we have never met.
We wish we looked like people who don't actually look the way they do in magazines, we wear the jerseys of athletes who, in some cases, are violent or abusive at home, we seek out autographs and pictures of people who don't know or frankly care about who we are.
We are a culture obsessed with fame, beauty and wealth. So, it's no wonder that this generation of children are not only obsessed with celebrities, but also with themselves.
These children get the instant gratification of feeling very important — taking pictures of themselves in stylish clothes, in fancy cars, on vacations or just with the right group at the right party.
And then they instantly post it for the world to see and get feedback in seconds to minutes. Voila, instant gratification!
So, within this climate you might wonder where there is room for you as your child's greatest influencer, hero, or person they want to emulate when they grow up.
1. Show Up For Your Child.
Make yourself present; put the phone down, stop texting, stop talking, start listening. And I mean really listening — with your eyes, ears and body.
Don't go to your kid's soccer game and have your head down the whole time because you are updating your status and sending emails.
They know from the sidelines or the field if you were really there or not, and being there in body but not mind doesn't help in having your kid feel connected to you.
2. Be Clear About Your Time.
We all understand that you need to work and that because of technology you may always feel "on." But your kid won't ever be shown that there is a time and place to work and time and place to play.
He or she will grow up feeling like you were half present and half gone, which to them equals mostly gone. Set aside time in which you focus on them.
Manage your time well, and be greater than the average parent in our country that spends an estimated 13 minutes with their kid a day.
3. Be Consistent.
I can't say enough good things about being consistent in all areas of parenting. This is how babies, toddlers and children learn, for better or worse, what to expect and what others expect of them.
If this sounds like a difficult task, choose the areas that are most important to your child given their age and do it — consistently.
This might be to make it home for dinner, to read books to them or to pick them up from school. Whatever it is, it's opportunity to maximize connecting.
Whether your child is 5 and talking about the latest word they learned to spell or they are 15 and having friend issues, your consistently being actively engaged in a relationship with them is the key to your kid experiencing feeling truly important to you.
It's that simple and hard at the same time.
4. Admire Talents, Not People.
It's so important to get in the habit of doing this early on in a child's life. Instead of saying that you love a certain athlete or actor, specify that you love the way they play a game or act in a movie.
Kids have to learn early on that we don't know these people personally, and, therefore, have no idea what their character or integrity is in real life.
Making this subtle shift can have a major impact on how society idolizes celebrities and where your children will turn for role models. It's never too late to start.