Have you noticed how mutual respect and understanding between genders, children and parents, and people, in general, seem to become more and more a matter of wishful thinking than reality? Have you noticed how difficult it is nowadays to find a child who not only respects their parents, but the world around them in general – the birds, the bees, and Mother Earth included?
The truth is, teaching kids how to, one day, become healthy, respectful adults is a delicate task that requires time, dedication, and the deep understanding of the inner workings of a child. Alas, not many modern parents have the time or the willingness to take on such a challenge. Here are some highly effective ways you can teach your kids how to respect themselves and the world around them.
Respect your children
Respect is a two-way street, much like love, or any other process that can go on between two or more people. Self-respect, likewise, is a two-way street, as it requires the external to love and respect the inner self. Children, as you might have guessed, need the guidance of their parents to achieve this.
They are not inherently disrespectful, they are just human. While a child is definitely not a blank canvas, they will, like anyone else, fight for their survival and their personal gain, struggling to realise the notions of right and wrong. Your job is to steer them in the right direction and help them differentiate between the two. You can begin by showing them what respect really looks like.
Not only should you respect their wishes, their needs and their unique inclinations in life, but you should also respect everyone and everything around you. This will show them what respecting others looks like, and how it can benefit everyone in the long run.
Show them what love and affection feels like
Respecting their parents, respecting their friends, their family, the nature around them and the differences that make us human – all of it stems from the ability to know, to receive and to give love selflessly. Nowadays, however, many children are growing up in affection-less families, imbued with stress, negativity and the constant dread of everyday life. Such a living environment cannot only tear couples apart, but it can also hinder your child’s emotional development.
To prevent this, it’s important that you preserve an affectionate relationship with your significant other, and that you make sure your child gets to experience the loving vibe between you on a daily basis. I understand that not all children have the luxury of growing up with both of their parents around, but you should aim to impart the importance of giving and receiving love however you can nonetheless.
Be the change you wish to see in your children
As you might have gathered by now, the emphasis in a child’s emotional development should be put on being the change you wish to see. Nothing good will ever happen by simply telling them how to act on a daily basis, not because they’re not listening to you, but because they don’t realise the importance of respect in their life. Instead, you need to show them what it truly means to respect others.
When you’ve spent a lot of time working in a professional aged care facility,it shapes you as a person and you learn how to take care of other people. This, in turn, allows you to impart some of your hard-earned wisdom to your kids. So, if you’re up for it, take your kids with you and show them first-hand what it means to care for someone, to treat them with dignity, and what the rewards of being a respectful individual truly are.
Teach them to look at the bigger picture
Children tend to have a very narrow-minded view of the world. Don’t hold it against them, the majority of adults are the same. After all, it’s not their fault, they are simply uneducated and unaware that there might be a bigger plan in the works, or that the possibilities might extend beyond the preconceived outcomes in their mind.
The thing that will help your child realise the importance of taking a step back, reevaluating their own thought process, and discover better paths to resolving any situation in life is to teach them that every action invites a unique reaction. Once they realise that their actions have consequences for them and the ones they love, they will have an easier time understanding the importance of respect.
Emphasise the importance of honest communication
Lastly, how many times have you met an adult person in your life who is simply unable to open up, talk about their feelings or delve into intimate subjects that require them to become vulnerable, even for a split second? Do you think that such a person can truly understand what empathy, compassion, and selflessness are? Maybe they can, but it’s a long shot.
The truth is that closed-off people tend to have a much tougher time empathising with their surroundings, which is something a child should learn very early on. To achieve this, emphasise open and transparent communication with your children. Help them feel safe talking to you and let them confide in you at all times – it will allow for some truly miraculous things to happen.
Teaching your children the value of respect in life is not a task you should put off, nor is it something that can be learned overnight. Through trial and error, and with your unrelenting guidance, your children are bound to become thriving adults imbued with lifelong love and happiness one day.