Teaching by example
How Modeling Teaches Albert Bandura developed Social Cognitive Theory of Human Functioning Concluded that most human behavior is learned from observing the models of others
How Modeling Teaches Lev Vygotsky developed his Sociocultural Theory of Development including the zone of proximal development discusses that imitative learning is one of three ways that social interaction leads to changes in children’s thought and behavior. (other two – instructed learning and collaborative learning)
How Modeling Teaches Bandura and Vygotsky – similarity emphasized that imitation of role models was only part of the cognitive process and that people construct their own personal knowledge and understanding.

  • Teachers with a positive disposition tend to show more respect for children’s autonomy and provide higher-quality instruction
  • A teacher who speaks in a kind and respectful tone to students tend to have a classroom where children speak more kindly and respectful to one another.


  • Children notice when adults consider children’s ideas and feelings respectfully.
  • Teachers who exhibit very controlling behaviors set an example of demanding their own way without regard for others.


  • The brain is wired to mirror actions and emotions
  • The mirror neurons in the brain plays an important role social cognition.

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSCaring for Others Modeling Acceptance

  • Tolerance is appreciating that there are differences and learning to respect the opinions and ways of people who are different from you.
  • Utilize teachable moments
  • Teach a social studies curriculum

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSCaring for Others Modeling Kindness

  • Children need to learn at the concrete level – in their own environment and through their own experiences
  • Make time for interpersonal relationship skills
  • Affects children’s ability both to feel safe and learn

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSCaring for OthersModeling Kindness Cont’d

  • Take a proactive approach to bullying.
  • Create a classroom climate that fosters cooperation
  • Whenever you work at meeting children’s needs and at creating a caring classroom, you are combating bullying.

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSCaring for OthersExpressing Feelings

  • Suppressed emotions eventually surface and can cause debilitating emotional and physical problems
  • Culture often determines how emotions are expressed
  • Adults who learned to accept and work with their own emotions can be a beneficial model for children


  • Children learn about the consequences of their actions by observing the actions of others
  • By listening and observing, children begin to understand what feelings are, situations likely to create which feelings, and how to express them

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSCaring for OthersLetting it Show Cont’d

  • Hyson, “…

    Competent, thoughtful professionals consciously decide what emotions and emotion-related behavior to model

  • Cooling off periods by teachers to handle their own stresses serves as a model for children when they are stressed.


  • Even if teachers get overwhelmed and lose control, it can provide a teaching opportunity to model apologizing and expressing/explaining their own emotions


  • When teachers asknowledge and express their feelings appropriately, they teach that feelings are not wrong.
  • When adults deny children’s negative feelings children may learn their feelings are wrong and feel guilty. Guilt may result in repressed feelings and negative behavior


  • A teacher can help a child clarify feelings by modeling more appropriate words.

  • Children who experience empathy for their feelings begin to learn empathy for others as well

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSAccepting FeelingsAcknowledging and Listening

  • Children who perceive social support from teachers display an increase in motivation toward academic and prosocial goals.
  • Listening is one of the most powerful sources of support we can offer children.

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSAccepting FeelingsGender and Emotion

  • Providing children with opportunities to learn about emotions from both male and female role models is valuable for children’s development.

MODELING DESIRABLE INTERACTIONSAccepting FeelingsCultural Differences

  • Some children get different messages from home and school about how to express emotions
  • differences between home and school emphasize the importance of getting to know parents and coming to mutual agreements on behalf of children


MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking ResponsibilityHelping with Cleanup 

  • Young children need to be taught how to clean up a mess.
  • Seeing teachers help clean up sends the message that it’s worth doing.


MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking ResponsibilityKeeping Your Promises

  • Trustworthiness is associated with children’s healthy development, their adjustment in school, their formation of friendships and their academic competence

MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking ResponsibilityKeeping Your Promises Cont’d

  • Following through with a plan or promise is important in building trust and responsibility.

MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking ResposibilityCaring for Property

  • Dedicating a significant amount of time to teaching children how to use materials responsibly can prevent undesirable behavior

MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking ResponsibilityKeeping Physically Safe

  • Modeling safe practices is more important and effective than following rules

MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking Inellectual RisksWhy Bother?

  • teaching autonomy, rather than conformity, through risk taking, makes guidance and discipline easier
  • work on fear or failure or mistakes
  • model not belittling yourself for failings, but acceptance of them

MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSTaking Intellectual RisksRisk Taking and Academics

  • Emergent literacy research indicates that children learn about letters and their sounds best when they work on their own hypostheses about writing and spelling.

  • The fearless ones produce pages and pages of scribbles.
  • Children who are afraid of failure may be hampered in their learning.

MODELING DESIRABLE BEHAVIORSEffective Role ModelsSomeone Similar

  • The ability to identify with role models is important to all ages.
  • Teachers can emhasize similarities with children through interests.

Effective Role ModelsSomeone Admired

  • being fun and pleasant
  • having a positive relationship with the children
  • they want to be like you because they like you

Effective Role ModelsMedia Models

  • Children want to be like sports stars, tv characters, and super heroes.
  • increasingly, advertising is aimed at children
  • Children may pick up whole behavior patterns by emulating the models they see in media

Effective Role ModelsModels of Violence

  • When children see violence, they often bring it into their play
  • opportunity to discuss reality vs. fantasy
  • opportunity to discuss true heroism
  • openness to discuss violence may help a child who is tormented by fear, or who is in real danger.

Working with Families to Combat Media Impact

  • When parents supervise children’s media activities, they can help them make sense of what they see.
  • media takes away from time spent in actual play or interaction with adults.
  • Infants and toddlers should have no screen time
  • Young children should have 30 minutes a week.