The Webster dictionary defines a role model as someone who is worthy of imitation; someone to be copied and is a good example for others.[1]  Recently Weekly Reader Research conducted a survey of over 1,000 teenagers on behalf of the American Bible Society.  The results revealed that 63.7 percent of teens aged 12-18 have role models.[2]  According to 22.3 percent of those surveyed, honesty is the most important trait a role model should have.  Loyalty was identified as another important quality for over 76 percent of the girls and almost 64 percent of the boys.[2]

Rode Models Include Coaches; Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp, Photographer: Cpl. Kristin E. Moreno, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp, Photographer: Cpl. Kristin E. Moreno, Source: Wikimedia CommonsKids try to emulate the behavior of their role models for many reasons.  Role models can be parents or other family members, mentors, athletes, teachers, coaches, clergy, or celebrities from the entertainment business.




Parents as Role Models

The majority of children consider their parents to be their most important role model.  In the Weekly Reader Research survey, almost 70 percent of the teens between ages 12-18 reported parents as being the most important role model in today’s society.[2]

 A valuable aspect of parenting is being a good role model for children.  Parents need to be good examples to their children and teach them the values and beliefs that they believe important.  These lessons may include how to manage anger appropriately, show respect for others, cope with disappointment, build and maintain healthy relationships, respect laws and authority, set goals, and also how to have fun appropriately.

Children do what they see


Athletes, Celebrities, and Other Possible Role Models

In the Weekly Reader Research survey teens identified teachers and coaches as important role models; second behind parents.  Most surveys do show that teachers are the second highest group of people to be considered important role models.  Even in today’s society, teachers are expected to be good examples for children and teens.

Many athletes believe it unfair to hold them to a high standard of behavior; some athletes go as far as stating that they should not be considered role models for kids.  However, the Weekly Reader Research Survey showed that over 18 percent of participating teens considered athletes to be important role models.   Movie and television stars were rated slightly under athletes at a little over 16 percent.[2]   Celebrities in all arenas are in the limelight and therefore, open for emulation from children.  Scrutiny from the public in general can be intense for famous people; bad behavior usually stigmatizes them as bad role models.

The survey resulted in 84.8 percent of teens selecting Jesus Christ as the embodiment of a biblical role model.[2]   Perhaps this is not a surprising result given that the American Bible Society backed the survey.  However, even for those who do not believe in the bible per se, Jesus Christ is the ultimate positive role model.


The copyright of the article Who are Today’s Role Models for Kids?  is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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