June 17, 2020
When I hear “respect” as a learning topic, I immediately embody my 7-year-old self. I was raised in a staunch, unforgiving, be sent “straight to the corner” environment of “show respect to your elders, or else.” Let’s just say, I spent half of my childhood in the corner and my Nan will be the first to tell you (in less kind words), I was not a very respectful child. 30 years later she still reminds me of a time I actually spit at her…ah! Sorry, Nan!! How can we steer away from demanding and preaching outward respect to children? This commanding approach/age-old tactic is not only ineffective but can actually have the opposite effect we desire.
So how in the world can we alter our approach?
I hold the belief that to encourage a generation of kind, open-minded, accepting humans, capable of respecting the opinions of others, respecting differences, respecting themselves, and those around them, we must focus on two main actions: modeling and mutual respect.
- By the fourth SEL installment, I imagine you could probably guess the first… Modeling, modeling, modeling! Our children are watching, listening and imitating. Respect is rooted in kindness and understanding and we need to both outwardly and inwardly model these traits for our kiddos. We can not express outward goodness without first showing ourselves love and kindness—respecting our own thoughts, feelings and actions. Hear them, feel them, and let them go if they are not serving us. Self-love and self-respect make us better people and better parents; allowing for outward acts of kindness and respect and making it easier to identify, explain, and model these acts to our children.
- As per one of my favorite resources below by Robert Meyers, we cannot expect children to show outward respect if they do not feel respected. Mutual Respect is a cornerstone of kind and balanced interactions. Of course, there are going to be moments of frustration. Of course, you are going to make mistakes. Again, please see bullet point 1 and be gently with yourself! The goal here is to acknowledge that even as littles, they are capable humans with the capacity to understand and grow. See the Amy McCready article below for a few concrete examples of respectful interactions and positive parenting solutions.
Books to Learn More:
- The Best Me That I Can Be: Respect by Rose Angebrandt
- Everyone Matters: A First Look at Respect for Others by Pat Thomas
- This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
- I Feel Teal by Lauren Rille, illus. by Aimée Sicuro
- 5 Ways to Show Respect for Your Child (And Gain Their Respect in Return) by Amy McCready
- RIE Parenting Basics (9 Ways to Put Respect into Action)
- Raising Your Kids with Respect: How to Teach Your Child to Care for the World Around Them By Pam Myers, BSEd
- Teach Children to Respect by Treating them with Respect By Robert Myers, PhD
More resources to follow in the coming days. Feedback and more ideas welcome!
Above all, be well and stay healthy!