The ability to foster healthy respect for oneself and others is a core value that is essential for building meaningful relationships, as well as for building the foundation of emotional well-being that a person will need to be successful in their personal life. Essentially, having respect is the ability to become aware of and honor the intrinsic worth contained within ourselves, as well as the ability to recognize and esteem the value of other people.
Children Model Respectful or Disrespectful Behavior
Cultivating a child's sense of respect is something that does not happen overnight. Over the course of their childhood, children learn about respecting property, themselves, and other people, largely, by observing and internalizing the perceptions, opinions, and behavior of significant role models such as parents, teachers, and other authority figures. Consequently, children learn to either respect or disregard elderly people, classmates and peers, people with different ethnic or religious backgrounds, authority figures like police officers, and perhaps most importantly, themselves. For better or worse, children start off wanting to be just like their parents.
What Can Parents Do?
Perhaps, the most impactful method that parents can use to convey the concept of respect to kids is to demonstrate it in a personal way by showing their children respect. Many parents take an authoritarian viewpoint on this subject and equate being respectful to their children with weak parenting. This, however, is not the case. Being respectful to your child does not mean compromising principles or boundaries and it does not involve withholding discipline. It is simply a way to let your child know that you recognize them as a unique person who has value and significance. Showing respect can be as simple as looking your child in the eye when they speak and giving them the undivided attention that they crave. In a child's mind, this behavior reinforces the notion that they are an important member of the family. In turn, they will be more inclined to have a higher regard for themselves and they will likely mimic the action by showing a higher level of reverence to you, as a parent. Here are some other ways that parents can teach respect to their children:
· Teach them manners. "Please" and "thank you" are more than just magic words. They are simple ways to show honor and respect. It is important, however that you, as a parent, not forget to use these polite details when making requests of your child. "Do as I say, and not as I do" does not work.
· Teach children to take care of their toys. Instructing children on how to keep their things clean, put away, and intact will demonstrate to them how to respect their own property. This important lesson will eventually generalize to include other people's property, as well.
· Show children that you, as a parent, respect yourself. One of the ways that children learn is by testing boundaries. If a parent is firm in upholding boundaries, especially personal boundaries, then children know that respecting oneself is a desirable trait, and they will be more likely to emulate it as time goes on.
Respect is an important value for children to learn and, of the many things parents can do to instill respect in their children, it is essential for parents to keep in mind that the behavior that is modeled before children has even more of an influence on how they act than a verbal lesson. Teaching Young Children Respect