Respect. We all desire it, most of us deserve it, and sometimes we demand it! Giving and receiving respect is one of the most powerful connections we can make to each other. Therefore, if we appreciate and value respect, why is it hard to teach it to children at times? I think because power struggles and egos take center stage and respect gets hidden behind the curtain. We know that children learn to behave in a way that is modeled before them. Therefore, it's important that we adults, set a proper example. Showing respectful behavior to other adults is important. Showing respect to children is just as important. Sometimes, despite our good efforts to model respect, children simply act in a way that is not respectful. It's possible this has to do with testing the limits, personality, and environment. Whatever the case, it sure does feel frustrating when a child is disrespectful! On the flip side, it's refreshing and wonderful when a child shows respect.
So how do you teach respect to children?
- Model respect. Children learn by example, so model, model, model.
- Discuss respect. It may seem obvious what respect is to an adult, but may not be as clear to a child. Define and explain what respect means. Ask questions.
- Teach manners. Teaching basic manners to children provides opportunities for children to practice compassion and develop empathy for others.
- Respect someone. Ask a child who they respect and ask them why they respect that person. Brainstorm ways to show respect to that person, and take action. Some ideas include: write a letter to that person, help that person in some way, do a kind act for that person, tell that person why they are respected, do a chore for that person, etc.
- Respect the environment. Brainstorm ways to respect the environment, and take action. Some ideas include: visit a recycling facility and practice recycling, plant a garden, clean up a park, use less water, and save energy, etc.
- Discuss disrespect. Explain and define it. Ask a child to think of a time they have been disrespected. How did it make them feel? Ask if they have ever disrespected someone. What happened? Discuss the importance of forgiveness. Role play ways to handle disrespect and brainstorm ways to apologize.
What is your favorite way to receive respect?