Parenting Lessons: Lead by Example

Japanese kindergarten children

image:  Shibuya 246

Many years ago when I was a young parent, my son attend  a Japanese kindergarten that had an enrollment of 400 students!  These children were between the ages of 3 and 6.  You’d imagine the place to be utter chaos, but instead, it was full of life, energy and fun!  What was just as amazing was the fact that they provided school lunch, served by the “upper classmen”, yes the five and six year olds!  Kids serving kids!  It was fascinating to see how these five and six year olds took on their responsibility with great pride and the younger students watched them with respect.  How they ever managed this was truly beyond my comprehension.

The principle,  was a tiny, skinny woman in her seventies.  She was sharp, strong and wise.  As a young parent, I remember listening to her with great admiration, because she seemed so in control and calm.  There is something she said once, that has stuck with me and I keep recalling her words.  It’s in Japanese, ” Kodomo wa oyano senaka o mite sodatsu”  Translated, ” Children develop/mature by observing the backs of their parents”

She wanted to remind us that children watch our actions.  There are times when they only see our back side and because we can’t see them, we forget that they are still observing us.  Her message was “lead by example” and regardless if they see you in action or not, they still are quiet observers.  It’s not always easy to follow her wise words, but her message always stays with me.


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  1. That’s very sound advice…and not just for children! I don’t have children myself, but this concept applies also to nephews & nieces, and to everyone in general. I don’t believe in preaching or trying to convince anyone; leading by example does the trick much better 🙂

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