Lead By Example
July 05, 2012

The following is a guest post from Tim Baker of HR Options, Inc. for Petits Chefs Academy the cooking school for kids, families, the community of York Region and GTA.  Which offers cooking classes, birthday parties, camps, special events/workshops, school outreach programs and field trips. 

Lead By Example

By Tim Baker –

I am a true believer in the ‘lead by example’ approach. However I often use the phrase ‘you don’t have to be the best player, to be a great coach’. They are somewhat contradictory.

OK, let me explain what I’m talking about.

I remember when our daughter, Alice, was born. Both my wife and I made every effort to ensure she had healthy, nutritious eating habits using the ‘lead by example’ method. We made very balanced meals, a variety of foods, and made sure that we all ate together. When our son was born, we continued that routine. As they grew older, we allowed them treats/desserts once we were satisfied that they ate their healthy food. We wanted to ensure that the ‘treats’ were not seen as the ‘forbidden fruit’…but rather something they could have in moderation. I’m a firm believer that we all naturally gravitate to many things that we can’t have. That’s the area where I need to be a ‘better player’…I tend to gravitate to the foods that aren’t the best for me…I need to walk my talk a little better.

I think this routine has paid off. When my kids ask for a snack, and we tell them that they may have some fruit or cut up veggies, they are more than happy with our offerings. In fact, both of them regularly ask for more of the veggies at the dinner table. I certainly don’t take that for granted. We even have a fruit bowl on the counter that is available anytime.  I think one of the keys to our success is that we all eat dinner together. That way our kids see that we are eating the same thing. As we all know…kids imitate our behaviour.

However, there is one area that I think needs improvement. We need to let them in the kitchen more often to assist with the preparation of the food. As a child, I learned how to cook from both my parents (and my several years working in the hospitality industry learning from chefs). I think that letting our kids be more involved with making the meals will create more ownership in their eating habits. But I’m not saying that it’s easy…many of us know that dinner time can be rushed in order to get kids off to their various extracurricular activities. But there certainly is a time and a place to get them involved.

There is one other area that I think contributes to good eating habits for our children – portion size. I believe that if you put a full plate of food in front of a young child, they will feel overwhelmed – the perceived expectations are too high. This can inevitably result in a dislike of food that they may otherwise like. We try letting our kids choose their own portions. Whatever they take, they must eat. Lets face it…kids (or anyone for that matter) will eat if they are hungry and won’t eat if they are not hungry.

So…what are the takeaways here?

1. Don’t say no just say ‘not right now’

It’s pretty simple…kids (and most adults) will want something they can’t have. So, don’t say no…just teach them when and how much is acceptable. They will learn to appreciate it much more and will be less likely to go to extremes.

2. Create a sense of ownership

Involve your kids in the cooking and preparation process. Teach them where food comes from and why a variety is good for us. Also, let them decide how much to have. If they take more than they can eat, they have nobody to blame for themselves. If they take too little, and are still hungry, they can have more of the same.

3. Lead by example

This is the big one. With kids, if you try the “do as I say, not as I do” approach, it won’t work. Kids see what you are doing…they will see the contradiction between what you are telling them and what you are doing. So set the good example…you’ll feel much better all-around if you do.

So…you don’t necessarily have to be “the best player to be a great coach”…but you’ll certainly get better results if you try to be the best and… “lead by example”.

The following is a guest post from Tim Baker of HR Options, Inc. and member of the YRSBiz Blogging Circle.  The York Region Small Business Club helps small businesses in York Region connect online and in York Region.  Their goal is to provide free or low-cost opportunities for local businesses to connect and engage with each other and ultimately to help small businesses succeed. Learn more about YRSBiz at


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