What is Respect?
What is respect?
According to four-year-old Julia, respect is “being nice to other people.” Pressing further, I asked “What does being nice mean?” She delightfully answered, “it means you give someone chocolate or a kiss!”
As young as she is, this child recognizes that respect is the way you choose to treat another person. “Being nice” as she puts it, is how one acts when demonstrating respect.
How does one teach respect to young children?
- Demonstrate respectful behavior. Children often watch their caregivers looking for clues defining the expectations. If they see parents and teachers treating one another with respect, they will do the same.
- Teaching polite responses. Even infants can sign words like, “please” and “thank you.” At Stepping Stone School, we begin teaching these signs in our infant classrooms and continue to build upon these important phrases throughout their years with us. As children begin vocalizing, adding phrases to their vocabulary like, “excuse me,” “no thank you,” and “yes ma’am/sir” continues to encourage an attitude of respect.
- Expect a respectful attitude. As your child grows, talk to her about the way she treats others, the words she uses, and the attitudes she portrays. Explain the expectations of respect for others and discuss ways to hold her accountable for her attitude and behavior.
- Praise respectful behavior. When children demonstrate good manners and respect to others, let them know that you notice the positive choices they are making.
“Being nice to other people” is a good introduction to respect. As your child matures, she will understand more fully the reasons why we choose to “be nice” to others. She will begin to understand respect.