Teach Children about Respect

Image of Rusty the Respectful Raccoon

For young children and adults, being respectful means:
Being kind to your friends and family.
Using good manners.
Not hitting or hurting others.
Talking about your problems.

You are the most important teacher your child will ever have. Your children will learn by the example you set for them. This means that the ways that you are respectful of others will influence the ways your child is respectful of others. The most important respect you can model for your child is respect within the family. Showing your children that you respect them and treating your children with respect will have long-lasting influence on the way your children respect others.

Infants and respect

The foundations of respect begin in infancy. When you talk to your infant in response to her cries and coos, you are showing her that her situation is important. Perhaps your baby is crying. You might say, "I know you are crying. You must be hungry. I am fixing you a bottle right now. It is almost ready." This probably will not stop the baby from crying, but it will reassure her. It is also the first step in learning to talk about your problems.

Be kind to your friends and family in front of your baby. He may not understand all that is going on, but he will sense the stress of a fight or confrontation. Even in infancy, your baby will benefit from experiencing kind words and actions.

Toddlers and respect

During the toddler years, you may find you spend a lot of time talking about not hitting or hurting others. Sometimes toddlers find that the easiest way to solve a problem is with a hit or a grab because they are not as skilled at using language to solve problems. Continue to let your toddler know what behavior you like to see, and your toddler will eventually exhibit this behavior.

Preschoolers and respect

Aspects of respect, such as using good manners and not hitting others, can be difficult for preschool children to practice. Positive reinforcement is a good way to encourage your children to use good manners. When your child says please or thank you at the appropriate time, say, “I like the way you said please” or “thank you for saying please.” These messages make it clear to children what behavior you like and let them know you are paying attention.

Teaching young children not to hit takes time. Young children hit to solve problems because they are frustrated and don't have the language skills to stop the problem another way. Encourage your child to use words and tell others what he is feeling. Helping your young child develop problem-solving skills now will benefit him or her for the rest of life.

Being respectful of others may also mean respecting differences in the way others look or act. Children can begin to learn about respecting differences among people by learning about differences among family members. Talking about differences among family members is a good way for children to learn how they are unique and special. Children who know how they are unique and special will be better prepared to handle an encounter with someone who is not respectful of individual differences.

3/12/2005 12:21:32 AM
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