It is important to know that I believe I am a role model for everyone, including the adults with whom I work. These are some of the reasons why I believe I am a role model:
1) Social Learning Theory. Albert Bandura found that children watched and imitated the behavioral choices of other people in similar situations. For example, with the Bobo doll, children who did not choose to bop the doll did so after they observed adults and other children bop the doll. It does not mean the models "taught" the other children to bop the doll - rather, they gave them another choice; one they had previously not thought to use. In other words, it didnt matter whether the "models" meant for the other children to learn the behavior, they did learn it and that is that.
2) Erikson's psychosocial development. As young children move through the stages of Erik Erikson's theory they are using role models at various points throughout the process. For example, during the autonomy v. shame and self doubt stage, children may be watching their parents and siblings to begin shaping their response to problem-solving. In a classroom, some teachers call this "thinking aloud." As parents and siblings talk through their decision making process, younger children are listening to this process and potentially using it themselves later on.
3) Behaviorist theory. When children see a behavior, and it is rewarded - it is not outside the realm of possibility the child will use the behavior - and will continue to do so if they are rewarded. A good example is when professional athletes behave badly and yet get a high salary, notoriety and MVP awards.
Charles Barkley once said he isnt a role model - parents should be a child's role models. I dont completely disagree. But the concept of role model doesnt mean the individual who is looked up to CHOOSES to be the role model - the fact is the person is looked up to by young people and is therefore, a role model. Not by their choosing but by the choice of the young person.