I am constantly trying to teach our boys about respect. Some days I think, ‘Yes, they’re getting it!’ and other days, I think, ‘Whoa…need to work on that one!’ Like most lessons for children to learn, I think it takes a village. If we don’t teach them about respect, and more importantly, if we don’t model it for them, how are they going to learn?
After almost every play date that our children have at a friend’s house, I like to ask the parent, “How did he do? Did he use his manners? Was he respectful?” It is just a little “check” I like to do to keep me on my toes with the ongoing lesson of teaching respect to our boys. I hope my friends are being honest with me, but I realize they may not be every time. I understand it is hard to tell your friend that their child was rude, talking back or not being respectful. It is a fine line that we have to walk sometimes, as parents with our friends. But it is so important that we are honest with one another. We are not helping this village that our children are growing up in, if we aren’t participating and not being honest with one another about the behavior of our children.
Respectful kids help create mindful kids who are positive role models and can help make a difference in this world.
I know all of you are doing your best at teaching your children respect every day and I am no expert either. Here are a few tips I like to re-visit when I realize I need to turn it up a notch in the (teaching) respect department. I hope this is helpful for you too:
- Respect for themselves: Teaching your children to have respect for themselves is vital. This is why I have this bullet point at the top! It all starts here, I believe! Ways to teach self-respect can start with how we treat our bodies. Feeding our bodies with healthy foods and liquids is showing respect for our bodies. Getting good sleep, bathing, brushing our teeth and dressing appropriately are also ways we show our bodies respect. We can also help teach them self-respect by explaining to them that it is not ok when others treat them poorly by means of words and actions. If we show others that we respect ourselves, they will be more apt to treat us with respect.
- Model respectful behavior: Remember they are always watching what we do and how we act. So be cautious of how you treat others throughout your day. Even in the check-out line at the grocery store, or how we treat other drivers on the road, how we treat our parents (their grandparents), our extended family and especially how we treat our own children. When you model what respect means to you, they learn how to treat others with respect.
- Praise them: Always praise your children when they are speaking respectfully to adults, to their friends, to neighbors as well as when they demonstrate respect through their actions. Children LOVE praise!
- Positive Reinforcement: Remind them often and tell them how proud you were of them when they asked Mrs. Perry if it was okay that they ride their bike on her driveway, or when they held the door open for their friend and said, “Guests first!” Kids really thrive on positive acknowledgement and praise.
- The Golden Rule: Make sure you are treating your children how you want them to treat you. By yelling at them, you are showing them that it is okay to yell. I am not saying, do not raise your voice or be stern at necessary times. I believe there is a difference between yelling and being stern or firm with your children. Another great example of this is respecting their privacy and vice versa. At our house, if their door is closed, we knock first and we ask our children to do the same.
- Listen to them: Are you listening to your children when they are talking to you? This one can be difficult as a parent because we are always trying to do 5 things at once. But try your best to listen to them when they are sharing a story with you about school or their friend, or an accomplishment. Plus, don’t we expect them to listen to us when we are talking to them? This can fall under Golden Rule and Modeling Respectful Behavior, but I think it needed its own bullet point…(at least for me…I need to work extra, extra hard on this one each day!)
- Understand them: It is important to remember that they are learning just as we are and to make sure we are not asking too much of them at a certain age. They may not be aware that they are not showing respect in certain situations and it is vital that we are mindful of their growth and mistakes and that we are not too hard on them while teaching them this important moral.
- Give them examples: When you see someone showing respect for someone else, explain to them how that person was being respectful. Even if you think they already know, it is great to give them examples of other people who are exemplifying respect as well…especially if it is someone they already “respect” and admire who was showing respect.
- Reward their Respectful behavior: While I think praise is one of the best ways we can reward our children, giving them extra privileges or a simple reward will let them know that you are proud of their respectful behavior and that you notice when they demonstrate respect.
Again, we are all doing our best at this parenting thing. And I believe that it does take a village…but it starts with us, their parents. I was reminded just recently of teaching respect when we were at an event and the National Anthem was played. It was another teaching point for me about respect…and respect not just for people, but for our country as well!
AFFIRMATION: I respect myself. I respect all other people and in return they respect me. It is a joy treating others with respect.
(Clothes: plaid shorts/smaller pattern: Old Navy, plaid shorts/larger pattern: Macy’s, Navy polos: Children’s Place, Black shoes: Bob Jones shoes)