Respect – An age old term parents and educators beg of children with exhaustive repetition. If only children were respectful, we probably wouldn't need rules. If children were respectful, they would walk in the hallways, be considerate of one another, keep their hands to themselves, listen when spoken to. In fact, if kids were respectful, every decision they make would be in consideration of their peers, adults and environment.
So, how do we get children to just be respectful? Let’s first consider the hours in a day trying to get children to behave the way we expect them to. It often involves bribery, arguments, debates, threats, negotiations and punishments. By doing this, are we, in fact, teaching children how to be respectful? Or are we simply controlling their behaviour and actions? Is a child respectful when they do something nice for someone to avoid punishment? The simplest and most effective way to teach respect is to be respectful. All too often, the very behavior we expect our children not to engage in is the behavior we use to control them. Yelling at a child is only effective if we expect our children to do the same.
Consider your relationship with a police officer. If an officer stops you for rolling through a stop sign at a snail’s pace and then berates you for the infraction, how would you feel toward the officer? Would you feel respected? Would you feel you deserved to be berated? Now, imagine this happened on a regular basis. Imagine the frustration and sense of hopelessness you would feel in the presence of the very people you thought were there to help and protect you. Now, imagine you are to the kids what the officer is to you.
My grade 9 teacher epitomized what it means to teach respect. He was the only teacher who did not require students to ask permission to go to the washroom. Sounds crazy? Not only did we not require permission, we did not take advantage of his lenient class management style. We would go one at a time and return promptly. So, what was the secret? It’s simple. Respect. He modeled the behavior he expected from us. By respecting us – we, in turn, respected him. And by respecting him, we learned to respect others. So, with all the tricks in the bag, the foremost method of raising respectful and considerate children is by modelling the behaviour. Speak like you would like to be spoken to, when you say no to a child, provide a fair reason and remember to make sure they always know how much you care.
Written by: Corey Szwarcok, Dynamix Co-founder.
Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.
Picture taken from Google Images, source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-30I3ujdeKm4/TaXInYqI81I/AAAAAAAAACQ/ZqkSzrnrBMo/s320/parents.jpg