What does it mean to be respectful? This is what all parents should ask themselves before considering the best ways in which to bring up a child who respects the people around them. It’s not only in our outward manners that we can show respect to others but in our behaviour and treatment of the world around us.
This senior school near London believes that children need to develop a sense of responsibility for the world around them and this is vital if a child is to be truly respectful to the people around them.
Considering others is something which begins surprisingly early in children. Babies as young as 14 months old have been observed assisting other babies in various ways. Showing care and feeling empathy is usually something most 2-year-olds have mastered – it’s not always reliable though since toddlers do have poor impulse control!
How to begin teaching your child to be respectful
Nothing beats setting an example. There’s no use in declaring that you’re tired of being disrespected if you’re not also showing respect. Here is a list of small things you can do which will show respect for your child so that they may learn from your example:
Give them their own space – literally. Their room is their room – teach them how to care for it and tidy it by setting in place a regular ‘tidy up time’ each day. The smallest of toddlers love this. They are hardwired to copy the grownups around them and will delight in putting things away with you. It doesn’t take long before they are able to do it themselves. Setting this in place from the earliest possible time will give your child the lifelong skill of being a tidy person which is the most basic of respectful behaviour.
Respect their body – teach them how to wash and dress as soon as possible. The basic things like wiping noses and washing hands are all very personal things and if your child can learn to manage their own personal hygiene early on, then you will be able to refrain from invading their space by constantly swiping at their nose or flattening their hair for them.
Don’t answer for them – if someone – a shop assistant for example, asks them a question, give your child time to reply. These small interactions are vital in your child’s social learning journey. It can be tempting to respond when your child seems to be struggling to reply, but if they’re given time, most will manage just fine. If they take too long or get tongue-tied, a gentle prompt is best.
Children who are independent are more confident. They know their own parameters and can go about their business with ease. The basics, such as please and thank you are easy – as long as they see you using these phrases, they will copy. Treat the people around you with care and respect and your child will reward you with the same.