Teaching children to be respectful can seem scary, but really, it’s very straightforward and easy to do. Children are like little sponges. They watch and soak in everything we do. When we treat them and others with respect, children see that and take it in. The best way to teach children respect is by example.
Are you and your spouse or partner treating each other with respect?
Your kids are watching whether you think they are or not. They may have Dinosaur Train on the TV, but if you two are shouting or calling each other by mean names, the kids will notice. And because they look to us for guidance, they’ll think it’s OK to treat people that way.
Is your child-raising their voice or being disrespectful in conversation?
If so, there’s a good chance they’ve seen it somewhere or had someone treat them the same way. When your child asks you a question, if they’re interrupting another conversation, it’s OK to tell them, “I’m in the middle of a conversation, I’ll be with you in a moment” or something along those lines. You’re acknowledging that you hear them and teaching them to wait until you’re done. Once that conversation is over, return to the child and say, “Thank you for waiting, what can I help you with?” so they know it’s their turn now and you’re thankful for their patience. If someone tries to interrupt their turn, politely ask that person to wait. Even if it’s another adult, especially if it’s another adult, our kids are watching.
Do you ask your child if you can borrow something they have or take a turn?
This is a big one when it comes to teaching children to be respectful and share both. When a child has something, it’s not OK for an adult to take it from them. Ask the child if you can use it, borrow, whatever it is that you need. If you wouldn’t walk over and take something out of another adult’s hand, don’t take it from a child. Now obviously, if they’re going to hurt themselves or someone else, the situation is different, but in general, treat them with the same respect you’d treat an adult with.
Do you treat the people you meet in the community with respect?
It’s up to us to teach our children to be respectful to all, and that includes the workers who help us as we go about our day. Do you take an extra moment to say hi or ask how someone’s day is going, or do you stay on the phone while the cashier rings up your groceries because you’re too busy to be bothered with small talk? Your child sees how you treat the cashier, and they’ll think it’s OK to be rude if you’re rude. Teach them to say hi, smile, wish someone a nice day.
Finally, how do you treat your child?
Do you treat your child with respect, or do you expect complete agreement and adherence to your plans? It’s probably not that black and white, but you know what we mean here. If you want your child to be respectful, you have to treat them that way. Show them that you care and love them, but also that you respect them. Ask them if you can use something they have rather than taking it away from them. Ask if you can join them and read a book. Maybe they’d love the time together, and maybe they need a minute to themselves. If your child goes into their room, don’t just barge in, knock and ask if you can come in, especially if they were upset when they walked in the room. While that room is in your home and you pay the mortgage or rent, that’s supposed to be their safe space.
Above all, try to remember how you felt as a kid when someone didn’t treat you with respect and try to help your children have better experiences. If another adult treats them less than respectfully, acknowledge it with the child and talk about it. Hear them and respond to let them know you didn’t think it was right either, and you’re sorry that it happened. Our children can easily be respectful if we treat them with respect as we raise them. They want to be great kids. We know they do. Let’s help them grow into amazing adults.
Klein-Spring Montessori has been serving the Spring area for over 35 years. We’d love for you to become part of your family too. Contact us today to learn more.