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 they live in and that doing this is vital if a child is to be truly respectful to the people they come in to contact with.
However, we do not need to wait for our children to start school to teach these lessons as 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 but it does indicate that thy are capable of grasping the concept of resect from a young age and that parents can start to lay the foundations for raising respectful children early on.
How to raise a respectful child
Nothing beats setting an example. Show your child and those around you the respect you want your child to show others, especially when they are watching. Remember to wait till people have stopped talking before you start, hold doors open for others and always use your manners. If these behaviours are being displayed in front of your child on a daily basis they will start to imitate them without needing to be told to. Of course they may need a reminder from time to time but on the whole you wont need to teach it as it will be second nature.
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. Having this mastered at a young age will also make your life easier when it comes to motivating your child to do their chores as they get older.
Respect their body – teach them how to wash and dress by themselves 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. By respecting their personal space you can teach them that they too need to respect others, this is harder if they feel you are always invading their space as it will confuse 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. This will help to give your child confidence and improve their social skills and self esteem. It will also help them become respectful as they will learn the art of conversation early and will not grow in to someone who thinks it’s acceptable to ignore others but instead will be happy to engage.
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. Mastering these simple skills early will certainly help you raise a respectful child.