Many people have an idea that kids today are disrespectful. More so than in the past, they say. Maybe that’s the case, maybe not. (How is anyone really supposed to know that?)
But this isn’t the real problem as I see it.
The Real Problem
The problem isn’t that children aren’t respectful towards adults. The problem is that adults aren’t respectful towards children.
Respect and Disrespect are both learned behavior.
We need to understand that both respect and disrespect are learned behavior.
So if we want our children to learn to act respectfully of others, there is no other way around it, we must act respectfully towards them and towards others.
If the adults can’t learn true respect, then how can we expect children to learn true respect?
No amount of words will compare to the way we treat them. Nothing we say or try to teach. It comes from being respectful towards our children first.
Parents not only have to model respectful behavior toward others, but they also have to show they respect their own kids.
How to truly teach respect
Here are some suggestions for how to truly teach respect to children:
- By treating them well in our own actions and attitudes towards them
- By not insulting them, interrupting them or speaking rudely to them.
- By not harming, abusing or mistreating them in any way.
- Not spanking, not smacking, not slapping or popping them on the behind (however lightly and non-harmful we are telling ourselves it is)
- By showing them appreciation and dignity, instead of as a second class citizen of the house.
- By the way we talk to them, even when we are trying to correct behavior (especially when we are trying to correct behavior).
- By asking for their consent before picking them up or moving them about.
- By showing we respect their privacy and their bodily autonomy.
- By acknowledging and validating their wants, needs and desires, instead of scolding shaming and dismissing them.
Children are people too
The thing to we need to remember is this. Children are people too. Every bit a person as much as anyone else. In other words, children aren’t in a period of training to become real people at a certain date.
Unfortunately, I think all this does need to be said, for those who don’t yet understand. For those who still view children as second class citizens that can be shouted down at, shamed, spanked and disregarded.
If our own children are going to learn real respect (which is not the same as learning to fear people), then we parents need to model respectful behavior.
Again, respect is learned behavior. Disrespect is learned behavior too.
What are you teaching your child about respect?
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