Children are taught how to crawl, walk, read, and write. As they grow, they will learn to solve math problems, understand scientific concepts, and debate events in history, guided by parents, teachers, or caregivers.
The same guidance is needed when developing the qualities, values, and character we want children to have. It is only through guidance and modelling by caring adults that children learn to be respectful, to care about others, to act responsibly, and to make sound moral choices.
Showing respect is a sophisticated communication skill based on a guiding belief in the importance of expressing consideration for others. Respect means accepting others without judgment and honouring people by treating them courteously. It stems from the belief that all people are equal and should be treated with dignity. We need to teach children to think about how their actions can affect others and how to treat people with kindness and respect through modellng and providing right examples.
Respect, like the Golden Rule, means treating others the way you hope to be treated yourself. With that in mind, here are some reminders that will help raise children who will make the world a kinder, more respectful place.
Speak politely – View every conversation as an opportunity to role model respect in conversations, including your body language, tone, eye contact, and how you listen.
Give children a voice in decision making – Children benefit from developmentally appropriate participation in decisions making that affects their lives and shows children that their feelings and their own point of view are valued. Nurture kindness and empathy by asking them how they would feel if they were in someone else’s shoes. Acknowledge how they feel and their opinions.
Resolve conflicts thoughtfully – This means showing mutual respect, offering a responsive, democratic ear to children’s opinions. We want children to see that we are doing our best to listen respectfully, even if we disagree with them. As they grow up, it is important to have the practice of mutual respect solidly in place.
Teach deep manners – Be a good role model. Use words like “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me” when warranted. Make sure your child understands why being polite to others is necessary in society. This also includes teaching children how to apologise.
Practice positive gossip – This means noticing what’s good about the people in your lives and talking about it. Positive gossip is basically the opposite of behind-someone’s-back nastiness, and it is wonderful for developing gratitude, appreciation, and respect.
Call your kids out (respectfully) – Model respectful limit setting. Set boundaries and enforce rules for when your child behaves rudely or inappropriately. Ensure they understand why some behaviours are considered rude or inappropriate.
Experience other cultures and ways of being – Teach children to respect differences in other people and why everyone should be treated with equal respect, regardless of those differences. It is important to acknowledge others even if we don’t agree with them. Validating others’ feelings shows respect.
In order to teach respect, we need to model and show respect in all we do.
“Do to others as you would have them do unto you” Luke 6:31
Gail Mitchell, Head of Primary