One of the most difficult lessons to teach young children is how to treat others with respect. We live in a world where respect often appears to be a forgotten art. Of course, it is also one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. The younger we begin building this vital foundation for your children the better they will understand the importance of respect when dealing with other children, adults, and animals.
Why is Respect So Important for Young Children?
In general, when we learn to respect others, we learn to respect ourselves. In fact, it is only by respecting others that we are able to respect ourselves. Psychology Today suggests that children who do not have proper self-respect become teens and adults who are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as:
- Abusing drugs.
- Consuming alcohol.
- Engaging in promiscuous sexual activities.
- Treating others poorly.
Children who do have proper respect for others (and themselves) are happier, more successful, less selfish, and make better choices in life. In other words, instilling the values of respect early sets your child up for a happier, more productive, and meaningful life in the future.
How Can You Teach Your Child to Be Respectful to Others?
You don’t have to wait for your child to be heading off to the first day of school to try to teach the value of respect. Unfortunately, many parents struggle to find age-appropriate ways to teach young children this important value. These things will help you teach your child about respect without making it a dry, boring lesson.
- Set an example. Show your children what it means to be respectful by being respectful to others. Other adults, children, and animals you come across. They are watching your every move and emulating what they see in you. Be the example you want to set for your child.
- Talk about respect. Some people show respect by using words like Sir, Ma’am, thank you, please, Mr., and Mrs. When addressing others. You also have to teach them about what it means to be disrespectful to, including things like rolling eyes, throwing tantrums, and having poor attitudes.
- Teach your children to take turns. This is so hard for young children who are excited about everything and eager to step into the fray. It also happens to be one of the fundamental tenants of being respectful.
- Explain to your child the importance of polite words, phrases, and actions. Manners, if you will. Saying things like “excuse me,” for instance, instead of demanding that others move or get out of your way is much more respectful. Tell your child when he or she is being rude and instruct them on how they could react or respond in a more respectful manner.
- Teach your child to celebrate diversity rather than fearing it. There are many beautiful things to learn from people who are different, whether it is race, gender, nationality, or abilities. Encourage your child to be curious and soak up new knowledge, cultures, and foods to experience the differences between themselves and their peers in a more positive and respectful light.
Teaching respect doesn’t have to be dry and boring. Take a walk in the woods and teach your child about respecting the plant and animal life you come across along the walk. When they respect the smallest plants and animals, they are certainly ready to protect other humans and larger animals they encounter.
Respect is an important lesson to teach children. The sooner you begin your efforts to teach this lesson, the better odds your child will enjoy the many benefits self-respect and the respect of others have to offer.