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Emulate to Inspire Excellence

Updated on October 29, 2018
teaches12345 profile image

Dianna is a writer with a background in education and business. She writes to inspire and encourage others.

Do you emulate qualities a child would want to mirror?
Do you emulate qualities a child would want to mirror? | Source

Emulate strikes me as one of those words that should glow, glimmer or sparkle when you say it. Well, in my mind anyways. People who reflect positive life choices inspire others. Children look up to adults whose actions set good examples to follow and they mirror what they see. Hence, people who emulate excellent behavior should have a shimmering light about them for the impact they make on young minds!

According to the dictionary, emulate means to strive to equal or excel, especially through imitation. The end goal of it is to arrive at perfection. Children identify with role models as a picture of what they aspire to be one day. They hope to replicate their accomplishments, perhaps even to surpass.

My question is: who do our children emulate in today's world? In a world where youth are subjected to adults with different lifestyle broadcasts through channels such as movies, music and sports, what impact do they have on a child's development?

People Most Admired by Youth

Sports Figure
Community Leader
Other Family Member
President of the United States or First Lady of the United States

Source: AACAP Families & Youth;

Traditionally, boys are expected to emulate their fathers.
Traditionally, boys are expected to emulate their fathers. | Source

Historical and Current Role Models

I don't remember my mother as having any color but gray to her beautiful long hair. Every night standing in the dim light coming from a solitary light-bulb hung over her dresser, she pulled the pins from her braided coiffure letting her long locks fall below her knees. Once in awhile she would ask me to brush out her hair while she told me a story or sang a song. She silhouetted what I wanted to look like one day. I wanted to be her. Until I got to know Cherry Ames.

Helen Wells and Julie Campbell, authors of the Cherry Ames mystery novel series (1943-1968), wrote to influence young girls to become nurses, especially promoting the war effort as a pathway to a worthy nursing career. I read every book published, resulting in my wanting to become a nurse. I often dreamed I was Cherry Ames! Cherry Ames was a perfect role model for girls at the time. She was a heroine of honorable character who wanted only to help others. Today, nursing is still popular with youth as a career choice but I would argue job security is a major decision factor.

Gallup's annual poll, pulled from Americans across the nation, traditionally lists most admired man and woman as the sitting President of the United States and the First Lady of the United States. US Presidents have captured the top slot in 58 of 70 years of surveys. Among other top mentions are Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton.

Other figures such as actors, athletes and artists tend to influence children as they are portrayed by media. Sometimes it is a very positive message, other times not so mentionable. Peyton Manning as a well known football MVP has earned the admiration of many people. Kids look up to him as a role model. He made a big impact on youth when he turned down an extra $1.4 million per year signing with the Broncos, expressing that he “didn’t deserve it”. From his own personal income, he has donated millions to at risk kids. His integrity impacts many a child's perception of what a true man really believes and does.

With so many people out there to identify with, do parents still emulate how a child wants to lead her or his life?

Who do You Emulate Most?

Thinking about those who encouraged you to excel, which person listed below was most inspirational?

See results

Parents as Role Models

According to a State of Our Nation's Youth survey, fewer than 25% of children emulate actors, sports figures and national leaders. Over 57% state they identify with a family member as a someone to mirror; 36% list mom as their top role model and 28% emulate their father.

I find this information hopeful. Good news parent, even with all the glitz and glamour of politics, movie stars and super athletic sports-persons … children still want to pattern their lives after parents.

As I mentioned earlier, children observe intently what an adult does and will mimic their responses in life choices. I laugh every time I view those Progressive Insurance commercials highlighting people who start acting like their parent. Seriously, how we react to situations is largely a result of our family relationships. How often do you catch yourself saying what your mom or dad used to say? I rest my case. We are mirror images of our parent.

For some of us, a parent may not have been the best example but psychologists believe you then form your thoughts and actions to counteract the influence, an oppositional response. Nevertheless, parents greatly model behavior children consciously or unconsciously absorb. Hmmm, may just be worth checking how you are wired.

Parenting to Inspire

Having a child shadow you as you work allows for bonding, helping to inspire good character traits.
Having a child shadow you as you work allows for bonding, helping to inspire good character traits. | Source

Characteristics Children Value and Emulate in Adults

Respects people
Outstanding Behavior
Hard working
Makes the right choices
Stands firm on decisions
Safe Person
Spends time with kids
No bad habits
Good example
Comfortable with who they are
Seeks to help others
Capable of action worth admiring
Someone to look up to


As humans, we don't know what we should do. We don't have those instincts like God gave animals. We have to see to know where we are going. It is just a natural human emotion to look for people to emulate.

— Tony Dungy, Former National Football League Player & Coach

Attributes a Role Model Emulates

Imitation or Emulation?

Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and playwright from the late 1800's, is credited with the proverb iimitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can play to greatness. He believed imitation cloaked the creativity of the individual. Although, for a child it is a form of adaptation as a he learns to interact within an environment.

Animals will change in form as a protective stance in nature. Living in Florida, the lizards are great at camouflaging tree bark. Not until you brush up against them and they leap out at you do you realize they are there. They get me every time! As humans, we also adapt in certain circumstances to achieve a goal. For instance, a child will copy another child's behavior in order to receive positive attention in a school learning situation. How many times did you copied a friend's attitude or mannerism because it got good results from the teacher?

Kohlberg's theory of moral development places imitation in the first two stages of development. A child wants to be accepted socially and will mimic others in order to gain approval. It isn't until the 3rd stage a child ( as a teen) or individual will begin to emulate a person, attempting to become their equal.

As children age, they will choose who they want to emulate, usually reflecting chosen behaviors with a spin of their own.

Children mimic parent qualities and actions they admire. Setting good examples inspires worthy traits.
Children mimic parent qualities and actions they admire. Setting good examples inspires worthy traits. | Source

Stay True to Yourself

Children emulate adults or older children because they are emotionally attached through close interactions. They eagerly follow examples to acquire knowledge of what it takes to succeed. As parents we must encourage our children to mirror people for their positive accomplishments and successes.

Young minds cannot gauge how unhappy the person may be or if the person is demonstrating poor habits upon observation. They regard the person as a worthy model based upon their actions, not realizing the person actually suffers from unobservable insecurities and poor self image.

We must teach our children to emulate the positive accomplishments and effects people have upon others. Encouraging a child to imitate characteristics of proven historical role models goes a long way in building character -- character worth emulating for a life of goodness and happiness.

If you desire to inspire a child, stay true to who you are but keep in mind that you are most likely who your child wants to emulate. Youngsters will catch on as you demonstrate living with hope, determination and integrity. They observe how compassionate you are with others, how you help people in need. You play an essential role in ensuring your child leads a meaningful life.

As a Christian, we always fail because we can't become Christ. But I can try to at least emulate the best qualities, even if I may fall short.

— Kelsey Grammer, American Actor and Director

© 2018 Dianna Mendez


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    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      22 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Nice article. Good reading. Thanks.

    • cristina327 profile image

      Cristina Santander 

      2 years ago from Manila

      Great inspirational thoughts to inspire everyone. Thanks for sharing.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      You don't have to have kids to know how to make them happy and secure. I'm sure you would be an excellent example, Linda.

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      2 years ago from Arizona

      Great article. Even though I don't have kids I realize how parents help them feel happy and secure.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Chitrangada, from what I know of you, I am certain your children are reflecting quality character and are wonderful persons.

      RTalloni, I like your reference to gold here. Our children are priceless treasures given to us and we should value them as such. Our influence will make an impact on them.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Haley and Christine, I appreciate your good thoughts.

    • cristina327 profile image

      Cristina Santander 

      2 years ago from Manila

      Nice and interesting hub, highly informative. Thanks for sharing this great wealth of information.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Such a great article on every level. Thank you for superb treatment of this topic. Parents who say they don't want to influence their children but want them to grow up as unique individuals dismiss the fact that someone will influence them, as T. Dungy put so well. It's so important for parents to realize they have gold in the palm of their hands when it comes to influencing children. Gold to be protected from bad influences, gold to be nurtured per your discussion in this article.

    • profile image

      Hayley Dodwell 

      2 years ago

      A very fascinating and interesting article. Thank you!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent article, with some extremely valuable points!

      It’s important for the parents to set good examples, before their children. Because, I believe that the parents have a big responsibility, in laying down the foundations of the good or bad behaviour, good or bad characteristics of their children. They have the first influence upon the children.

      I have always considered, my parents to be my role models. It gives me immense satisfaction to see that my children have also followed my path.

      Thanks for sharing this insightful article.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Nell, you emulate wonderful qualities so you must have had some pretty good role models in your lifetime.

      Linda, blazing your own trail, positive and successful, will leave a path for others to follow. Keep up the inspiration.

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      2 years ago from Arizona

      This is an article that requires introspect. I honestly can't come up with anyone that I've emulated over time. I suppose when I was in my 20s I tried to emulate my best friend who was quite beautiful. Other than that I've pretty much done my own thing and blazed my own trail.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      Now that was a question! who do I or have I emulated? I don't really know to be honest, I think its a bit of everybody close to me. but nobody in particular. Great points Dianna!

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Dora, let's hope the children will copy only the good things of this parent who passed on. I found Grammar's quote quite accurate.

      Rajan, actions do speak loudly when children are watching. Great insight to the importance of emulating good character.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Wonderful article and some fine tips. A newborn starts observing his/her parents very early even before they are probably aware of it. They need to be extremely sensitive as to how they behave not only with one another but with others as their actions will fashion his/her behavior in years to follow.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great article! You raise some very stimulating questions. This past week a relative died, and all I can remember are the curse words she used. I keep wondering what her children will remember. That Kelsey Grammar quote is a motto to live by. Thanks!

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Peg, I was also pleasantly surprised upon hearing children still prefer to emulate parents. Yes, very reassuring!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      This is reassuring news, that children still want to emulate their fathers and mothers. With all the celebrity worship it seemed as if things had gone astray. Thanks for sharing these findings.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Audrey, sounds like you had a wonderful father. He set a good example for you and you reflect his kindness.

      Nithya, you expressed the true meaning of emulate. It is our hope that future generations emulate those values.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      As parents we should inspire our children to be good human beings and guide them towards role models who have accomplished a lot through their hard work, determination and integrity. Thank you for this excellent, thought provoking article.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      2 years ago from Pahrump NV

      I love your opening line, "Emulate strikes me as one of those words that should glow, glimmer or sparkle when you say it." Amen, Dianna.

      We are walking examples of values to others, especially children. I learned many of my own from my parents, mostly from my father. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. This impressed me greatly my entire life.

      Thank you for this exceptional article. Blessings and love.


    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Linda, I pray our generation rises up to the responsibility of emulating values and character to inspire the next one.

      John, from the poll I noticed fathers were top rated with their children. It is good to know that you had such a blessing. As we grow, others influence our lives and hopefully they are based upon the good examples our parents demonstrated at home.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Gondwana Land

      My number one role model was always my father. He wasn't perfect but was the best man I ever knew. Next to that would be my mother, and my uncles on both yes for me it would certainly be family. when you are an older teen or young adult you may want to emulate someone in your chosen interest, career or sport and so it is important that they are positive role models. An interesting and enjoyable article, Dianna.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      As you say, it's very important for children to have good role models. Thank you for reminding us of this, Dianna. I think we have a responsibility to help the next generation.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Eric, your style is refreshing. Your articles depict a man who balances life well. I am certain your children realize you live what you preach.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I have an off script emulation. I try to emulate my children from 8 to 38. They seem to get it. I seek out and find what is loving among them and search for a way to make that real in my own life. So by pure accident they search for that in others. Or maybe that is the sweetest emulation I can pass on. "Look for the good, find the good and be like the good." Perhaps I am not the best role model, but I can help them find one for themselves. Mine is not to lead but to point to the proper path of love.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Flourish, it is good to hear how parents influence children. I am certain yours were blessed with your excellent examples.

      Bill, you are one person I know who has written positive stories about how your father influenced you by his words and actions. It works!

      Paula, keep up the good influence over your grandkids. You certainly emulate what a child needs to live well.

      Pop, thank you for confirming parents are the best role model a child can have. Be blessed on your journey this week.


    • breakfastpop profile image


      2 years ago

      Thanks for this exceptional article. My role models were my parents, and I will be eternally grateful for their love, guidance and inspiration.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      2 years ago from Carson City

      Dianna. I love this wonderful article. Although I can recall much of my own thoughts from my youth, it's good to learn what information has been collected and researched on this topic. It's especially helpful to understand the youth of today. For this reason, I seriously enjoy conversations with my grandchildren. I am able to get a feel for who they look up to and what they aspire to do with their lives.

      Thanks so much for this fascinating read. Excellent! Paula

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This was an easy one for me; it was always my father. After that it was other male role models who came into my life to teach me lessons. Sometimes it took me awhile to learn those lessons, but I did, eventually, learn.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      When my daughter was little I realized how much she was listening and watching when she began to feed my words right back to me. Luckily, it was “good job” and “that’s not appropriate” or “let’s talk about this.” It was funny hearing such adult talk from a toddler. She was definitely my mini-me.

    • teaches12345 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      Jackie, its good to see you too. I must agree that I thought entertainers would have a bigger influence.

      Mary, it is important to be true to who you are. We can emulate values worth admiring when we radiate virtues such as humility and honesty.

      Pamela, as a believer we try to imitate the example Christ set for us but are so thankful for His grace when we fall short. My mother was my greatest role model too. She emulated strength for me.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This article makes you think back and as a teen we are influenced by many people. I really liked the movie stars and singers, but never wanted to emulate them thank goodness. As a Christian I think we know we fall short, and that is okay according to the Bible, but we can always have that peace of mind. I think my mother influenced me the most as she was always strong even when life was tough.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Stay true to who you are is so important. Each one of us is a wonderful being and worth emulating in the gifts we have. I believe that the truth of who we are is what we share with others in our interaction with them.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      2 years ago from the beautiful south

      Wow, it is good to know that percentage emulate parent or family member. I would have guessed the most would be for entertainers and that is good to know.

      Great to see you back! Have missed you.


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