"Mom, why are kids supposed to respect adults? Adults don?t respect kids and we?re people, too."
My 9-year-old?s question prompted me to do some serious thinking. How do adults?especially parents?show respect for their children? And why is it important that they do? Perhaps the most compelling reason is that children learn by example. "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders," wrote author James Baldwin. "But they have never failed to imitate them." If we try to teach our children respect without respecting them in the process, our teaching will have little effect.
Treating children with respect starts with our view of them. If we see them as incomplete or inferior beings, we?re likely to give the impression that they have little value. We need to see our children as God does: little human beings created in his image and worthy of respect. As you work to teach your children to respect others, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I say "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" to my children?
In today?s fast-paced world, it?s easy to get lazy in the manners department, especially when talking to children. But a little common courtesy can create a new sense of closeness between you and your child. And it?s one of the easiest and most natural ways to establish mutual love, acceptance and respect.
I admit that when my kids were young, it was difficult for me to be consistent in this seemingly small area. But I found that diligence pays off. My children recognized that it felt good to have someone be polite to them. That feeling gave them the motivation to be polite themselves. Often, my children surprised me with a "thank-you" or an "excuse me" when I least expected it. And as they grew, they sometimes found the need to remind me: "Say thank-you, Mommy."1