Children learn by watching and mimicking the behaviors they see. So why is it that adult’s think that children should have respect for them without the adult showing respect back to children? Respect, like all other skills, is a learned behavior. We model the behavior and show them the ‘right way’ to do it.
Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of respect- To treat with propriety or consideration
As adults we all know how it feels to be treated without propriety or consideration. The first reaction is to be mad and hurt by the disrespect. The second is to show the same consideration, or lack thereof, back to that person.
Keeping that in mind, why do we expect different behavior from children who are trying to learn social rules and how to communicate?
“Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” – R.G. Risch
Teaching your child from a young age how you expect them to act is very important. Just as important is modeling those same expectations to them in your interactions. When a child does speak to you with disrespect tell them. Talk about how important the tone, words, and meaning are when communicating. Explain how it was rude or disrespectful and then explain how they should have done it better. Helping your child understand what they are feeling and how to communicate those feeling in a positive manner will assist in respectful behavior.
Explain that respect is not only for how you treat other people but how you treat your toys and things and others toys and things. Be straight forward and honest when explaining how respect works. The University of Maine “Children and Respect” helps breakdown what respect is and how better to teach it.
Give other children and teens the benefit of the doubt. Just because one is disrespectful doesn’t mean they all are. Just like adults, every child/teen is different. In “Respect is a two-way street that adults aren’t walking” talks about how teens are assumed to be disrespectful and are in turn treated with disrespect. What kind of message does that send?
Adults need to remember that we are the ones who know better and teach the correct way to treat and talk to people. Think before you speak and teach your child to do the same. The more we, as adults, show respect and model those behaviors the more children and teens will follow our lead.