More than 20 per cent of Chinese parents frequently misbehave in front of their children, including being dishonest, impolite or disobeying rules in public, according to a new report.
The report, which was released on Wednesday, was based on a survey of more than 112,000 fourth-grade students and more than 74,000 eighth-grade students in 2017 by Beijing Normal University. Questionnaires were also sent to more than 31,000 teachers.
More than 40 per cent of fourth-grade students surveyed said their parents have broken promises; the percentage was even higher for eighth-grade students, at 63.7 per cent.
A smaller number of fourth-graders (13.7 per cent) and eighth-graders (18.4 per cent) said their parents break promises often.
Twenty-eight per cent of fourth-grade students said their parents have cursed in front of them and 31.5 per cent said they have seen their parents quarrel with others. For eighth-graders, it was 44.4 per cent for cursing and 33.3 per cent for quarreling.
The survey found that 24 per cent of fourth-grade students had seen their parents litter in public. Of eighth-grade students, 42.3 per cent have seen their parents spit in public.
Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said that as a child's first teachers, the parents have a major influence on how children will behave.
Children usually learn by imitating the behaviour of the people around them, especially parents, without knowing if the behaviour is good or bad, he said.
"Children who are lied to by their parents are more likely to behave dishonestly themselves," he said.
"Parents may lie to their kids to make their kids behave or to protect their feelings. However, they can unintentionally teach their kids that lying is a normal thing to do if they keep doing it. Even white lies - innocent, harmless lies - can set an example that lies are all right."
Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said children are very impressionable when it comes to curse words even if they do not know the meaning.
They might think it is a cool word, or try to get your attention by using it. Habitual cursing by parents can definitely affect children and normalise their use of curse words, he said.
"As parents, we are often blind to our own bad habits, yet bad habits, harmful lifestyle choices or mental health issues can negatively affect our children, and that's why parents need to hold themselves to a high standard around their children," he said.