As a parent, we almost always would want our children to look up to us, idolize us, or find a role model in us. However, especially in today’s times, it seems as though the world of glamour and celebrities might instead take over the influence of family members on a child. But at the same time, it is important for us to remember, that the family is the primary agency of socialisation for almost every child. And therefore, it is our responsibility as parents to be insightful of our potential as a role model for the children, and also be able to regulate our own behaviour in accordance to the same.

Importance of Vicarious Learning

For almost all of us, our aspirations and goals are majorly influenced by our conceptualization of a role model, someone who we admire and aspire to be like, who could be an individual within our social network, a public personality, or even a prototype or an ideal person. In fact, a large part of an individual’s self can actually be reflected in the choice of their role model. Further, vicarious learning is an essential aspect of social learning as we tend to acquire new behaviours through the observation of others’ around us in our everyday lives. Despite of the diverse forms of social influences begin to have significance, including the school environment, peers, etc., children typically acquire behavioural responses by watching and modelling their parents or significant others.

Recognizing Our Parental Responsibility

Parents and family members continue to be the most significant role models for the youngsters today, which carries with it strong implications for the extent of influence the behaviours of family members can have. This essentially implies that what family members do, children observe and tend to learn. Additionally, with the changing fabric of our society, inter-generational interactions between teenagers and grandparents must be emphasized, as such connect with grandparents can provide youngsters with a sense of cultural and historical rootedness and foster a greater sense of morality. Therefore, it is vital for parents and significant others within the family to model healthy and adaptive behaviours and to strengthen their communication patterns in order to inculcate positive attitudes and behaviours.

It has been proven unequivocally that young minds learn by watching those around them. Youngsters today still look up to adults to learn how to conduct themselves, a reality that has not yet changed. Such a tendency to learn by observations comes with its merits and disadvantages, based on how such social learning is cultivated. Both altruism and truancy are social behaviours that are learned by observing others. It is thus, the collective responsibility of adults, be parents, educators, or the media, to provide youngsters with positive, prosocial role models to foster a youth that is compassionate, empathetic and responsible.

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