What exactly is respect? It is defined as the feeling that someone or something is important and how a person/people or situation(s) should be treated. Respecting others and self-respect are not something that we are naturally born with. It is something that is learned from watching others around us and it is the first responsibility of parents/guardians to teach their kids.
There are 2 kinds of respect that children need to be taught. (1) Respecting themselves (2) Respecting others. It goes without saying that parents are the foremost and first educators of their children and naturally they would need to model this behavior so their kids can learn from the good examples they see every day. I read somewhere that the best classroom a child can ever attend if the one they attend at home!
One of the first things we need to remember is that we need to teach our children that they are the most important person in their own lives. Before we can show compassion and respect to others, we need to learn to respect and love ourselves first. As we grow up, we need to learn to put our needs first. A lot of times when we do this, it is considered selfish. This example can be used when kids are little. Sharing is a difficult concept to teach and if we think about it, everything does NOT need to be shared. Therefore, if your child has a special toy which you know they love and would not want to share, then be sure to have your child put the toy away during a play date. Forcing your child to share something is not the best way to teach sharing. On the same token, we do need to teach them that there are certain things that we should share with our friends when they come visit for a play date. Children that do not learn the importance of meeting their own needs first end up being bullied easily or become followers and not leaders.
The next critical lesson in self-respect is teaching children to protect their bodies. Your child must be taught at an early age that no-one has the right to hurt them physically or emotionally. Your child should be taught that they can and should stand up for themselves and learn to share any incidents, good or bad with you or someone the can trust. Open communication is the best tool to develop with your child.
Last but not least is the respect for others. By modeling the correct behavior, yourself, teach your child to respect others around them. The golden rule has always been to treat others like you want to be treated yourself. Parents can set examples by always greeting teachers when they drop off their kids to school and asking the child to do the same. Do not engage in unnecessary trivial arguments in front of your child and use appropriate language at all times. For example, if you are not going to use the magical words please and thank you, how can you expect your child exhibit polite behavior? Remember, it is not what you say but also how you say it. This is what led me to create the course called “Win With Words”.
By teaching children self-=respect and respect for others, we have the chance to be raise good citizens who can make a significant difference in society. We learn to be tolerant and accepting of diversity. In today’s world with the poor leadership we have in many countries, it is even more important as parents to place extra effort on this. Remember, if does not cost us any money to treat someone with respect. What we think of ourselves is far more important than what others think of us. Self-esteem and self-respect begins with us learning to love who we are!