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© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

I want her to treat others with respect

Children and respect
How Children Learn Respect

 

When a child feels respected, when she sees how you act respectfully towards her, she learns how to give respect to others.

 

Showing respect means acting towards your child as you want your child to act towards others. Kids learn far more from how we behave towards them than from how we tell them to behave.

 

If your child is busy -- playing, watching TV, contemplating the clouds -- interrupt politely in the way you would interrupt a busy friend. Be conscious that you're interrupting something that may be important to them. Act as you want them to one day interrupt you when you're doing something important.

 

If you treat what they're doing as unimportant, if you judge it by your standards, it's how they will act towards you. They'll think, "What I want is important. What Mom's doing isn't important because it isn't important to me."

 

If a child is being rude, the first guess is they don't yet understand how not to be rude. They need to see better in order to learn how to do better. Be respectful for them so they can see how it's done.

 

The second guess is it's how they've experienced you treating them. See their behavior as a mirror reflecting your behavior. It can be an uncomfortable wake up call!

 

 

Photo by Amanda Downing

 

In our opinion, adults deserve respect, not only from other adults, but also from children.

 

Why adults specifically?

 

I think we should assume people are deserving of respect until they show otherwise.

 

A child reprimanding an adult (or another adult reprimanding a parent in the child's presence) does not show respect for that adult.

 

And I think you're trapped in a view that sees children on a separate social plane from adults. There are different rules for children and adults.

 

Setting aside the ages of the participants, I'm seeing the situation [where a child reprimanded an adult for hitting a child] as one person seeing an injustice and stepping in to question it. I think it was very brave.

 

If one adult sees another adult treating someone who had less power in an unjust way, isn't it right and brave for them to step in?

 

And it isn't very respectful of children in general to say a child shouldn't question the behavior of an adult because the adult gets some kind of immunity from being challenged on their behavior by virtue of being older.

 

By the same token, our whole society has forgotten how to respect old age.

 

And by that same token, our society has never respected children. And people who are raised without respect often grow up to not respect others.

 

How we should treat others is a separate issue from how we want others to behave. Only our own behavior is in our control, not the behavior of others.

 

I live next to housing for the elderly. It's like they're warehoused until they die. I don't think they want some surface behavior that passes for respect. What they need is a vital role in or connection to the community. What they get are activities to keep them from being bored.

 

I think what you're asking for in your rant on respect is pretense, a fresh coat of paint for a rotting wall. You want children to respect adults and want society to respect its elderly. But the problem isn't the lack of respect. That lack of respect is a symptom of other things in our society. And a big part of it, I think, is a lack of respect adults show towards children.

 

 

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