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Children Learn Respect from Good Role Models

by Tania Cowling | May 30th, 2022 | Behavior, Elementary

respect 3The most effective way kids learn respect is by watching the important adults in their lives act respectfully. One of the biggest complaints today is that kids don’t respect their elders the way children used to. Is this a generational myth or true? I think kids need to learn self-respect, and then as this is achieved children understand that respect is earned. In some cases respect is just understood and it’s expected all the time, such as with parents, grandparents, teachers, police officers, and others with authority. But in turn, adults need to show some respect to the children, too. As a parent, don’t just yell and scream about behavior – take the time to talk to your children with understanding and guidance.

Talk with your youngsters about the positive aspects of respecting others. Being respectful (kind and courteous) shows how you value people and that you understand that people are just people, not truly perfect but living to the best of their ability. The world doesn’t always fit your ideal version and things don’t always go the way you’ve planned. Realizing this means accepting people for what they are and being grateful you can help them along by showing them the same respect you’d show others simply because they are human beings.

This may sound a little technical, but all in all, kindness and loyalty are respect. So what do you do when a child reacts with a blunt or negative statement? Here are a few tips for modeling respect.

React non-judgmentally and unemotionally. Respond with kindness and respectful words.

Think ahead about how to handle situations you might encounter with children. Remember there is never only one right way to respond to a child’s statement. It’s important to be a REAL person with kids – be genuine and not just mimicking responses you’ve learned in a parenting book.

Present factual information so children can understand how words can be harmful. Here’s an example: A child can call another child a “Wop.” This can be degrading and harmful, which can cause an argument. Explain to your child that “Kathy’s parents are Italian and they come from Italy. Wop is not a word they like to be called. It’s a word which make Italians feel badly.” Focus on how words can harm people’s feelings and a friendship.

There are many kinds of respect. Think about the environment and how we should respect the Earth we live on. This is why we teach kids about recycling and repurposing, so we can make the Earth a better place to live. And what about material items like books, toys, cars? We need to respect personal property, too, and not misuse or destroy objects.

The statement “What you see is what you get” can be paraphrased into “what children see is what you get!” This is all part of parenting and teaching respect may be as easy as showing respectful actions yourself in everyday life.

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