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Role models serve as examples, influencing others. Role models for children help shape their behavior and relationships. They may try to emulate the personality and appearance of their role model. It is important that children choose positive role models. Instead of choosing specific individuals that are bad role models, our list of the top five worst role models for your children look at some types of individuals and why they are not good role models.

Unrealistic Dolls

I am not sure there are any “realistic” dolls. Barbie and Ken certainly are not. Yes, they are fun, but these dolls are very unrealistic. Nobody looks that perfect. In addition, the clothing and accessories create a materialistic desire for glamour and glitz. Actually, most current dolls are not realistic. They are either remarkably deformed Bratz, or overly traditional and well-behaved American Girls. Even ethnic dolls have stereotypical and idealized figures and clothing. Every young girl should have a role model – someone to look up to, inspire her positively, and help her dream of the future. Unfortunately, most dolls do not serve as good role models.

Sports Heroes

Yes, athletes are impressive. They hit a baseball, score touchdowns, and make baskets leading their teams to victory. There is nothing wrong with your children enjoying sports and even some of the players. However, they do not necessarily make good role models. Their human natures frequently lead them in to questionable behavior. The thing your child must realize is that success alone is not worthy of emulation. Compassion, responsibility, and how you live your life are worthy characteristic for a child to respect and desire in their own lives. Some athletes do possess these characteristics, but parents need to emphasize it is the characteristics their child should desire, not glory seeking. Remember that Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong were both role models, until their lifestyles meant they were not. If your child has a sports hero as a role model, introduce them to the biographies of some great athletes of the past whose reputations have stood the test of time.

Movie Stars

Actors, as their name implies, act. Sometimes it is difficult for young people to separate the character portrayed from the real life individual. Additionally, actors and actresses for the most part live a very glamorous materialistic life. What children often see as desirable is the lifestyle of wealth and fame. They do not realize the problems that come with fame – the lack of privacy, constant concern about personal appearance, and even emotional problems. As a parent, temper their enthusiasm by emphasizing the good some of these individuals do for others. Also, help them understand actors are peopl5352466640_d1b3364235_ze who are not perfect.

Rock and Pop Stars

Why Rock and Roll Stars Die Young,” a BBC article, states, “One hundred stars died between 1956 and 2005, with US stars dying at 42 on average and those from Europe at 35.” Still, one in ten children in the UK wants to be a pop star.

Drugs, sex, and alcohol are often part of the music scene, and can lead to a tragic death. Many times the fame of these individuals relies on publicity stunts with bad girl and bad boy images – good for their fame, but bad for a role model. The media does not help as bad behavior makes good news.

Stay involved with your children and the music they enjoy. My teenage daughter had a favorite rock group. They were appearing on TV and I she wanted me to see them with her. They gave a terrible performance and were obviously high on something. My daughter was very embarrassed and that was the end of her “love” for their lead singer.


Many superheroes operate by their own rules, deciding who is bad and who is good. They run towards instead of away from danger. A mental evaluation would probably describe many as narcissistic sociopaths, self-involved risk takers who operate by their own rules.

Years ago, I took care of a little boy eight years old who loved superheroes. I was told to keep a close eye on him as he thought he had super powers, such as flight. A few weeks earlier, he had placed a ladder next to the house so he could climb to the roof and take flight. Fortunately, his father discovered his intent before he climbed the ladder. This was an extreme case. However, characteristics and activities that make one a superhero can be dangerous for our children to try. Make sure your child understands the difference between fantasy and reality.

It is quite possible your child will choose a questionable role model. Here are some suggestions of how to deal with their choice, especially if they exhibit bad behavior:

  • Remind your child that all people have good and bad qualities and that people are responsible for their decisions and actions.
  • Ask your child what he thinks of the role model’s behavior and what they could have done differently.
  • Tell your child that they are unique and you love them the way they are: that they can copy the good qualities, but should work at developing their individuality.
  • Give examples of people in your community and historical figures who you feel have positive qualities and are a good influence.

Sometimes children choose a role model because they have lots of time on their hands to be on-line, watch movies, or listen to music. Encourage your child to become involved in activities that reflect your values, such as religious or cultural programs, athletics, and after-school programs and clubs. Staying aware and involved with your children can help you determine if they have a role model, and deal with any inappropriate choices they are tempted to make as a result.

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