R-e-s-p-e-c-t — Training your kids on the importance of valuing others
by Tricia Goyer
“You're doing what?” a friend asked. “Are you out of your mind? You can't have elderly people in your home. They require so much care.”
I'd just told my friend that my husband and I had invited my grandparents to live with us. My grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and I knew my grandmother would not be able to care for him alone. Sometimes when we think of teaching our children respect, we think of teaching our children to say, “Yes, ma'am” or “Yes, sir.” That's a good start, but respect goes deeper than that. It starts in the heart. Here are eight ways to teach respect that comes from the heart:
- Model it. How do you treat those around you, especially the elderly or others looked down on by society? Our children take cues from us. They take note of how we treat people. If we show respect by caring for others and treating them with worth, then our children will pick up on it. Ways to show care include offering your chair to someone else who needs it or opening the door for others. It's letting someone else go in front of you in line at the grocery store.
- Use your words. From the time my children were little, we taught them to use Mr., Mrs. or Miss as a sign of respect — even with our closest friends. The funny thing is that while the kids had an easy time with it, sometimes the adults scoffed. I explained how this helps our children know they need to respect adults, and most of the adults later thanked me.
- Help them to consider the importance of others. So many “rules” are actually launching points for teaching respect. For example, we don't steal candy from a grocery store because those items belong to someone else. We don't litter because someone else will have to pick it up.
- Teach them to apologize. If you notice your child being disrespectful to your spouse, their sibling or a friend, then teach them to apologize. Saying “Please forgive me ...” mends the relationship and reminds children when their actions and words are unacceptable.
- Praise them. When you see your child acting respectfully, offer praise. Point out times they get it right … it'll encourage them to do it again.
- Avoid poor role models. You cannot completely shelter your child, but you can choose appropriate friends, media and role models. Many of today's children's programs characterize adults as stupid or useless. If you see this happening, then discuss why those attitudes are not acceptable and help your child choose more appropriate entertainment.
- Bite your tongue. Don't talk about your child's teacher or coach behind that person's back. If you have an issue with a person, then go to that person. Your words will shape your child's attitude.
- Remind your child of Jesus' heart. During his time on earth, Jesus didn't hang out with the important people. He went to the sick, the needy and others who were looked down upon by society. As you share your favorite Bible stories with your kids, point out how Jesus showed respect. And remind your children that we’re to act the same way in our own daily lives. Respect will show others what the love of God is all about.
Much to my friend's chagrin, my grandparents did move in with us. And my grandmother continues to live with us many years after my grandfather's passing. Yes, helping to care for grandma continues to be work — but I wouldn't have it any other way. Respect means giving your best and showing others they are important.
Tricia Goyer is the mother of one married son, two teens and a baby. More at triciagoyer.com