Before addressing how parents can raise children who have respect, let’s find out what respect actually means! Being respectful means showing respect for other people’s feelings, property and space. To better understand the word -respectful’, the word -disrespectful’ means having a lack of respect and being rude and ill-mannered.
When the word respectful is mentioned, we automatically have an image of a child who knows when to say please and thank you, a child who is kind and courteous, and because respectful children are liked by others they often have a higher self-esteem. A child who has never been taught how and when to say please and thank you and who has a complete disrespect for the property of others and for other’s feelings is often avoided by others.
Just as it’s important to feed, clothe and educate children, parents need to play an active role in raising respectful kids who are able to go out into the world and show off their good upbringing. Part of being a good parent is to prepare the child for the outside world and even though it may seem that manners and disrespect have lost their value in society, the fact is that great value is placed on children who have respect and it’s also one way of measuring your parenting success.
A child who is respectful doesn’t fit into the old saying of -children should be seen and not heard , but children who have been raised with respect are encouraged to express their views, feelings and concerns in a respectful and polite manner. Having or showing respect does not mean that parents should be teaching kids to agree with everything that is said, it simply means that they respect the opinion of others.
Respect for others
Children are taught respect. Showing respect for others is so important and children need to be taught that each and every person deserves their respect. One of the best ways to teach a lesson is to practice what you preach. The next time you take your child into a grocery store or when you talk to the petrol attendant at the petrol station, be aware if you treat the person with respect and dignity. Children learn from their parents and if you treat those who are providing a service with little or no respect – children will believe that people who you consider to be -unimportant’ or to be -lower than you are’ are not deserving of respect. The next time you talk to your child’s teacher or your helper at home – think about how your child views and learns from the interaction and think about the message that you are conveying to your child. Remember, everybody is deserving of your respect and your child should be taught this lesson from an early age.
Ps and Qs
Children who say -please’ and -thank you’ when needed are more than just displaying manners, they are showing the world that they are kind and respectful and kids who use these words often, are showing the world that they were raised by parents who are well mannered and polite. Apart from the obvious benefits of politeness, children raised to show respect and with politeness have an increased self-esteem and self-confidence, simply because their peers and adults enjoy being around them and enjoy their company. Once again, it’s the role of the parents to teach children to be polite and to use the right words when needed. The fact of the matter is that this is one of the most important and enduring jobs that a parent will have and when children are polite, grateful and respectful, these qualities will be a reflection of their upbringing (or lack of) forever.
In addition to -practicing what you preach’ and setting a good example for your children, there are several others methods that parents can use to build their children’s self-esteem and teach them the value of respect.
One of the best ways to validate a child or a person is to listen to what they are saying and listen wholeheartedly. When your child approaches you and wants to fill you in on all that happened in their day, try to stop what you are doing and pay attention to their words and to their body language. Paying attention to a child will let them realise that what they have to say is important, and apart from engaging with your child on a meaningful level, you will also be teaching them an important lesson that people should be given the right amount of attention. It’s hard work being a parent and we all wish we could have another set of hands to help us get through the day but remember, the time we have with our children is short, and sadly the special moments that we choose to miss out on, we will never get back.
Listen to what your toddler, child or teen is saying to you and show them that you have respect for their feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc.
Tell the truth!
In order to teach kids the value of manners and respect, parents need to show that they are worthy of their child’s respect. Parents are, after all, human and there will be countless times when we say things that we don’t mean and we do things without thinking and we also make mistakes. Being human, parents will also come up with white lies or deceptive tales about why we can or can’t do something. Again, our children will be sitting on the sidelines watching and listening as to how we interact with others, how we tell people (our bosses, friends, family) small – seemingly harmless – white lies as to why we can’t attend a function or why we won’t be able to get something done.
However, if parents make a concerted effort to tell the truth no matter what the cost, apologise for our wrongdoings and gracefully accept the consequences of our actions, they will have a major impact on their children. Apart from teaching them to have respect for others, they will be showing kids just how important it is to have respect for themselves and their actions!