Life Skills: Teaching Children Respect – By Role Modeling Our Expectations, Not Creating More Rules

Showing respect for others is more than just knowing the “nice” words to say at the right time.  It is also about recognizing the right thing to do at the right time.  One of the teachings we have in our classes is “You do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.”  Now while we teach that so that the students learn that doing the right thing is not just about ‘not getting in trouble’, it is also about showing respect to others.

Following the rules of the society you are in, is about respect.  Unfortunately our litigious society has so many rules and laws in place – when in reality we can establish some good guidelines in our schools (or classroom), homes and communities that would really be better for teaching respect.  What we are really looking to teach is that everyone has the right to be safe and have fairness applied to them.

How do we teach that to children? Lets start with the rules we have at home.  We may begin with how we treat the furniture, helping around the house with chores, sharing toys and games, not taking things without asking permission.  All of these expectations at home can be related to safety and fairness.  We won’t jump on the furniture or beds for safety and not wearing them out, chores are done so the responsibilities do not fall on one person, and sharing and asking permission for using things all fall under the category of being fair.

In school we show respect for the teacher and our classmates by doing our work on time, raising our hand and waiting to be called on, or cleaning up our supplies that we have used.  But in addition, respect can be shown by doing the unexpected.  Can we help our teacher clean up a mess, even if we were not involved in that activity.  We also show respect for our classmates and teachers by listening to them when they are speaking, not raising our hand until they are done with their thought or answer.

Whenever we show consideration for others, whether they are in our family, school, church or other activities we are involved in, it shows them that we value our relationship with them.  Taking our rules and making them EXPECTATIONS, then modeling those and not just listing a bunch of  do’s and don’ts,  will help our children learn respect based on respecting safety and fairness for themselves and others.

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