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TEACHING CHILDREN TO BE RESPECTFUL TO OTHERS
Being respectful means treating others as you would like to be treated and acknowledging the thoughts and opinions of others. It also means behaving in a polite manner. But how do we explain that to our children? ‘Showing respect’ is a complex concept for a child to grasp, so parents will have to use words and examples so that they can understand.
Here are some ideas you can do to teach your child about being respectful.
- Model Respectful Behaviour by Respecting Your Child
The most important thing to remember when teaching any type of behaviour is to be a role model for your child. Much of our behaviour is learned subconsciously from people around us. When we grow up around people acting in a certain way, we tend to act the same way too. If we want respectful children, we have to be respectful adults especially to them. Respect their preferences – everyone has the right to think for themselves and to prefer different things, including children. Children feel heard and respected when their differences are accepted. It will also allow them to learn how to treat others who have different opinions, teaching them to respect others regardless of their differences.
2. Define Respectful Words and Behaviours
Explain to your child which words and actions demonstrate respect, and which do not. Don’t overwhelm your child by giving them a list of things they must and must not say and do. Instead, gently correct disrespectful behaviours and suggest the right words or action. To start off, explain to your children how respect and disrespect make a person feel, and ask them how they would like to make other people feel. Then, you can show them how to be respectful by giving them concrete examples. The younger they are, the more difficult it will be for them to grasp respect as an abstract concept. Instead of telling your children to be respectful to their teacher in general, you could say, “If your teacher is talking to someone and you would like to speak, wait for the other person to finish first, and say ‘Excuse me’”.
3. Teach Your Child to Respect Belongings and Material Things
Teach your child to respect your home and belongings by teaching them to appreciate the hard work that led to those purchases and guide them to feel grateful. Explain to your child the value of these belongings and materials to their owners. If your child takes a toy from your neighbour’s house without asking, explain to them what the ball means to your neighbour and that it belongs to them. Always relate it back to how your child would feel if their favourite toy was taken away by someone without their permission.
4. Discipline Disrespect
If your child is disrespectful, immediately tell them that their behaviour is not acceptable. Explain to them what they have done and how it was disrespectful. Discuss how this makes you feel and how they would feel if the roles were reversed. You can be firm and kind at the same time when disciplining – set firm boundaries and stick to them. Don’t resort to punishments – offer them the opportunity to earn privileges. Try saying “We will only go to the park when you have put your toys away. If you wait too long to do it, then we will not have time to go to the park.” instead of “If you refuse to put your toys away, we are not going to the park,”. This will help you model respectful behaviour.
To summarise, teaching your child respect is all about being a role model, explaining your expectations, being consistent and following through with unexpected consequences. It may appear difficult at times, but once the groundwork is laid, it will become much easier.