Life Skills: Respect – How We Speak and Act To Others When They Are There and Not There

As parents we have all worked with our children on having good manners.  By good manners we begin with teaching them the “magic” words; please, thank you, sorry, your welcome, excuse me.  In the end though is it about the words or is something else?  What do good manners have to do with respect?

Teaching our children good manners should also include helping them to understand the concept of respect.  When we say “thank you’, we are recognizing someone has done something special or unexpected for us and we appreciate the thoughtfulness of the other person.  When we say “sorry”, well actually I teach our kids not to just say sorry, but rather to say, “I am sorry”.  Teaching them to take personal responsibility and to express it in more than one word is the beginning step in understanding that it may be necessary to say a little more.  They may need to express to the other person what they are sorry for doing and finding a way to “fix it”.

Showing respect by HOW we say our words is important also.  Using a kind voice, with sincerity is an effective way of demonstrating respect.  We can model this for our children in our own interactions with others and in our conversation with those close to us.  Very quickly our youngsters learn if we have respect for others or if we are just faking it.  As one person said, “You can tell a lot about the character of an individual by the way they treat those of least importance to them.”  Children soon learn if you as a parent respect everyone or only those that can do something for you at that moment.  They really pick up on hypocrisy very quickly.

So showing respect is not only WHAT we say, HOW we say it – but also what we say when the other person is not there.  Our children are there and listening to the parents true feelings.

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