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Teaching Children Respect

Teaching Children Respect

When you hear the word respect, visions of Aretha Franklin singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" come to mind for those of us old enough to remember the song. However, the message in the song is appropriate today as it was when she recorded the song back in the 70's.
Buzzle Staff
Everyone deserves respect. In a world where the current mantra seems to be "It's all about me!", there seems to be a loss of respect in many different areas―loss of self-respect, respect for property, and respect for others. If this is the situation from an adult perspective, then how do we teach children to have an attitude of respect?
Our Objective
Most schools across America have been implementing what they call "character education." While this is a good approach to teaching children different types of good character traits, I believe that it all begins at home, and continues long after the curriculum has been taught. This type of curriculum is composed of teaching children different aspects―trustworthiness, responsibility, fairness. In the teaching manual on respect, they list the following six components:
  1. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  2. Be courteous and polite.
  3. Listen to what others have to say.
  4. Don't insult people, make fun of them, or call them names.
  5. Don't bully or pick on others.
  6. Don't judge people before you get to know them.
Aretha Franklin's song is a good one that we all should remember, no matter how old we are! As a mnemonic device, you might want to consider this as a way for your child to learn respect:
Respect yourself.

Everybody deserves respect and kindness.

Socio-economic status has no bearing on whether someone should be respected.

Property. Respect other people's property by not abusing or damaging it.

Environment. Respect the environment by not littering, conserving, and recycling.

Cultural differences should be embraced, not criticized.

Things. Respect the tangible and intangible things that are yours as well as others. Respect the wants and wishes of others. Respect other people's opinions.
Steps to Take
These seems to be basic tenets of being a good person. But how do you teach that to our kids? Everyone has a specific way or technique to handle situations. Here are some tried and tested ideas you can choose to follow.
1. Being a model for them to follow.

This is the simplest way children learn. Hypothetically, a child hears your opinion about not liking other races, he/she will begin to emulate it as well. On the flipside, if a parent exhibits kindness towards people who are different, the child will begin to see the world as an opportunity to learn from others.
2. Start at the very beginning of your child's life.

When children are old enough to play and share, it is important to teach children how to take care of their toys. This is one aspect of teaching respect for property. Teaching children how to share is also a component of respect.
3. Teach your children how to talk with everyone.

Asking how someone's day is going, complimenting a person on what they are wearing, or being concerned about something that person may be experiencing are all constructive techniques.
4. Expose your child to different things.

Take your child to a cultural festival so he/she can see and experience different cultures and religions. Ethnic cuisine, unique customs, and different types of music and dance forms can be a way a child develops interest in and acceptance of people of different races/cultures. Rather than looking down on people who are different, we need to show them that being different is not a bad thing.
5. Demonstrate respect.

Do something kind for a complete stranger. Make it a goal for you and your child (or children) to do something kind for someone at least once a month. Give your children choices and help them decide what they want to do. It may be taking used clothing to a shelter, selling lemonade on the corner, and giving those proceeds to an organization that helps underprivileged kids, or going to your local shelter to serve a meal to the homeless.
6. Teach your child to say 'no'.

Say no to drugs, premarital sex, inappropriate touches, unwanted behavior, cigarettes―basically, anything that would have a bearing on their development physically, socially, and psychologically. You are a role model, and it is your responsibility to teach them about things are acceptable and things that aren't.
'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' is not a tough word to spell; the difficult part is its implementation.
Mother and daughter in kimono
Asian family
boy with skateboard