Teaching Children Respect

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Statistics prove that there are many different family types in today’s society. Grandparents or a grandmother is raising more than 1.4 million school aged children. One million children are adopted, often into a family that comes from a different culture that they were born into. This year alone, over 1,000,000 children will have the family unit disrupted by divorce or separation. Five hundred thousand children live in foster care at any given time and between six and ten million children live in homes with bisexual, gay or lesbian parents.

In today’s society, we must all avoid stereotyping. Kids deserve respect from their peers and teachers, no matter what their family background. If they feel they aren’t getting the respect they deserve, they need to talk to their parents, a school counselor or an adult that they feel they can trust.

Talk with you children about respect. Ask them what it means and be sure they understand the definition and use it in their daily activities. Let them know that disrespect to anyone, no matter their age, cultural background or religion, is unacceptable.

Be tolerant of others. Kids learn what they see. Respect the difference in other people, even if you’re not in agreement with them. Values are different in every family. Talk with your children about family diversity and respect for others. This encourages a safe school environment for every child that attends.

Kids must respect their peers and teachers but they need to realize that they also deserve to be respected. Kids who feel respected will find it easier to respect others. Talk to your child about respecting other kids and adults.

Be a good role model. Teach your children that slurs of any kind whether race, language, appearance or sexual orientation are to be avoided, always.

Encourage respect in kindergarten students by taking an interest in what they’re learning at school. Ask them about their day. Use examples of bullying and teasing to help your child recognize disrespect. Kids need to know that being different isn’t a bad thing, but rather that it makes them unique.

If your kindergarten child picks up foul and offensive language and slang at school, it is an indication that they don’t know its meaning. Ask them what the worlds mean and then explain that such terms will not be allowed either inside or outside your home by any family member.

When your child moves on to elementary school, ask how he feels about his peers, teachers and other school staff. This will give you a heads-up as to who is and who isn’t being respected at the school. Ask your child if he feels he is respected and how he knows that others respect him. Find out who is treated badly at school and in what way they are disrespected. Assure your child that you will not tolerate him to be disrespectful to anyone at anytime.

Talk to your elementary school child about his day while assisting him with his homework. This is a perfect time to become informed on how your child views the school environment and to keep you tuned-in to any problems before they get out of hand.

Middle school is a time when hormones rage and kids rebel and test limits. They also experience extreme mood swings while going through puberty. Many schools have adopted zero tolerance levels that make it easier for parents to know the policies on harassment and intimidation. These rules must be consistent with those in the home. Talk to your middle school child and let him know that now he is older, his behavior will be under extreme scrutiny from society. Explain that sexual harassment and physical intimidation of any kind will not be tolerated and the rules will be strictly enforced.

If you receive a complaint about your child’s lack of respect, deal with it swiftly and justly. Let him know without a doubt that disrespect will be dealt with severely. Be sure he knows the rules and the consequences if they’re not followed explicitly. Follow through without wavering and always be consistent. If you allow even the smallest infraction, it will be interpreted by your child as a carefree attitude on your part. Do not allow racial slurs, vulgar or offensive language or any other comments that could be interpreted as disrespect. Any action that is inappropriate needs immediate attention.

Remember, a person’s values are shaped early in life. Always punish inappropriate and disrespectful behavior. Set limits that will mold your child’s character and values and support him in those values. This will teach him to always respect himself and others.

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