Children need to feel respected and to learn to respect other people around them. This is a hard lesson to learn, and some children are more receptive to the message than others. All children are taught the basics of respect at school, but outside of school it’s our responsibility as parents. One thing is for sure: respect is something that can be taught only by example. Our children will not be respectful of other people and other people’s possessions if we do not lead them in the right direction with our own words and actions.
Teaching respect begins very early in life. Many children as young as one are old enough to begin to learn not to hit people, and how to softly handle animals. They can also begin to understand that some things are not for them. This is not a onetime lesson, but an ongoing way to learn how to live respectfully. Instead of focusing on our children to teach them respect, we have to focus on our own behavior. Here are some tips I find useful:
1. Respect your child’s boundaries. This means that if they don’t want to be touched, keep your hands off. If they don’t want to play, allow them to mellow out alone.
2. Respect your child’s decisions (within reason). If your child does not like to play basketball, do not force them to play so you can live vicariously through their play. Let them choose their own activities based on their personal preferences, once they are old enough.
3. Respect your child’s view of the world. This means that you might have to slow down and smell the mud pies with them. This is what childhood is all about.
Learning to be respectful is a lifelong process. What are some ways you can think of to show your child respect, so they may pass it on?