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I still consider myself a new mom. My son is 21 months old and it is said that it’s at this stage in life that they start absorbing everything around them. What you say and how you act can have an impact on your child’s behavior. Below are five ways to be a good example for your child.

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Speak wisely: From your tone, to the words you use. Children will mimic everything you say and do, so make sure your actions are what you want your children to see and hear.

Mommy’s little helper: At 21 months my son knows when something spills you have to “sweep, sweep.” I don’t expect my son to be effective when helping, but understanding that certain tasks/chores need to be done is a great place to start. He helps wipe the tray of his high chair after eating or puts his toys back in the toy bin. Children love being helpers. Be an example to your child by showing them early the life skills they’ll need.

Work out, eat right: Taking care of yourself is showing your child self worth. Show them to care about the body they have. I strongly believe that the problem of children being overweight begins with us the parents. We are the ones that have to teach our children moderation, to offer them fruits and veggies with every meal and to give them healthy choices and alternatives. As parents, we have to make the right choices for our children now so they’ll make the right choices later.

Set a routine: You hear this from the moment you get pregnant or see it in the first baby book you read. It is so important to set a routine. Children like structure and knowing what is coming next. Having a routine helps again with teaching children life skills, it helps children start to understand time management as well as learning important habits such as brushing their teeth. Chaos in the household begins when the children do not have structure. Be that support and help your kids in building it.

Explain, and listen: “NO!” and “STOP!” are words that get repeated constantly as a mother, but the question and lesson is in the why. Explaining situations to your children will better help them understand why they can or can’t do something. When your child misbehaves, take the time to sit with them and explain why what they did is wrong and if they are old enough to understand, ask them to explain what they could do differently next time.