Children can learn to respect property and surroundings

word of month character

There was an Indian tribal leader named Chief Dan George is quoted as saying, “There is a longing among all people and creatures to have a sense of purpose and worth. To satisfy that common longing in all of us, we must respect each other.” The respect we have for each other and ourselves goes beyond just the manners we display and the courteous words we speak. Respect for physical items we value and that others value is another way of honoring each other.

All of us have physical items that are special to us. They may not be expensive items; they may have sentimental value. A young child may have created a drawing or card they want to give to their mom that they take special care to deliver in excellent condition. An older child may have a unique piece of jewelry or a journal that they prize because a grandparent gave it to them. Adults may have photographs handed down through the family that is irreplaceable and represent special memories. We show these items respect by the way we care and protect them.

The physical things that we value are shown respect by the boundaries set up around them. We may not want others to play with individual possessions, or we do not lend the item out to others. Now imagine if you are visiting friends home. Their family has things that they also value, we can show respect by asking permission before touching. We would even ask if it is okay to go into specific rooms, upstairs, downstairs, or sit on the furniture. We show respect by honoring what others value.

One other area of respect sometimes overlooked at times is the environment or surroundings we are in with other people. Respect in school with classmates, restaurants with other patrons, in sports arenas or even just in the car with the family. How we act in those situations will either bring us honor for treating others like they matter or not. In school taking turns for answering questions, doing our work and not looking at other papers is giving dignity deserved to our classmates and teachers.

In a restaurant, sitting in our seat till the family is ready to go home, keeping our voice down, leaving screens like phone or tablets off, speaking respectfully with the servers all show respect to both our family and those dining with us. No matter where we are, sports arena or a car, what is needed by others to perform their tasks with full attention requires that we remember our manners and use courtesy appropriate for the situation.

No matter where we are or who we are with, everyone around us matters. The dignity everyone deserves calls on us to show respect. As a family, have you spelled out what respect looks like in different situations for your family? Do your children know what the expectations are in different circumstances and have you named it ‘respect’? Naming and not shaming each other, setting clear boundaries while honoring each other and mindful regard for the needs for ourselves and others is respect.

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