Matter Of Respect
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
Respect is a weighty word that we normally associate with elders and adults. We all have grown up listening to ‘Respect your elders/parents’ innumerable times. But what about our children? When it comes to them, we think of joy, love, gratitude, etc., but rarely do we think of respect. I believe, our children deserve as much respect as adults and age should not be a criterion for showing consideration to a human being.
IT STARTS FROM DAY 1
Often, parents and adults tend to start respecting children when they enter their teens – basically, when they are tiny adults themselves. But respecting them needs to start much earlier – from the day they are born. Let your baby know that guests will be coming over and it is going to get a little noisy or you’re taking him for a vaccine, and it will pinch for a moment. They may not understand the language, but they will understand the tone of your voice. Moreover, if you do this from day 1, it will become a habit which will help immensely when they become toddlers and begin to understand words. Even as adults, many of us hate being thrown into situations without warning, the same goes for them. If you inform them about the going-ons, just the way you would with your other family members, their young minds will be better prepared for it.
RESPECT IS A TWO-WAY STREET
It is an age-old adage that children copy actions, not words. We often show disrespect in seemingly small things like carrying on with your own task when they are talking, interrupting them, not introducing them if your meet someone on the street. They sound minute things, but for them it is important. You can’t spend your kid’s entire childhood nodding absently to his school stories and then complain about him not listening to you when he enters his teens. He will only learn what he will see.
ACCEPT THEIR NO
Children are cute, especially when they learn a new rhyme or a new dance number. And who doesn’t like showing off their child’s skill to people? But forcing them to do so is a strict no-no. He may bust a move like a Rockstar, but he doesn’t want to perform in front of your guests, let him be. Respect his ‘no’ and don’t make him feel bad about it.
If you treat your child like an adult and take his emotions into consideration while interacting with him, your child will learn to do the same with you and everyone else around him. Moreover, it will contribute greatly into making him a confident, sensitive, empathetic, and well-adjusted human being.
TEACH RESPECT BEHAVIOUR, NOT AGE
The phrase ‘respect elders’ should be replaced with ‘respect behaviour’. It is an unfortunate truth that age does not equal maturity. It is unfair for us to ask our children to be considerate of an aunt who is being rude to him, belittling him or is a just plain horrible in general. We cannot shut them up if they complain about a misbehaving adult. Teach them to be tolerant, but be honest with them. Let them learn to respect behaviour like kindness, politeness, compassion, intelligence, etc., irrespective of the age. People can be wrong, sometimes dangerously so. Thus, teaching this will enable them to perceive actions objectively and speak up if something makes them uncomfortable.
STOP THE HYPOCRISY
It is contradictory and confusing when you say, “Don’t you dare shout at me!” while screaming at the top of your voice. Yes, children are difficult. Yes, sometimes, we lose our temper. But there will also be times when we lose it erringly. Do we apologise to them the way we teach them to apologise to us? And why is it so easy to shout at them and not at any other adult who irks you? We have to behave with them the way we expect them to behave. ‘I’m your parent’ is not a good enough excuse to justify you doing things that you wouldn’t tolerate from your child.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RESPECT AND INDISCIPLINE
Respecting them does not mean having no rules or discipline. They are, after all, new to this world and need to be taught. But instead of saying, “Because I said so!” how about we explain the situation with, “Yes, I understand you don’t like eating veggies. But they are healthy and important for your growth. So, you are not leaving this table or getting any play time till you finish your meal.” They will still not like it but at least they know why they are being forced to eat.
Parenting is a wonderful but tough journey. But we must never forget that our children have feelings, ego, self-esteem and pride, just like us. Treating them with the same consideration as you would an adult goes a long way into forming a healthy, trustworthy, and loving bond with your child.
What do you think? Please write in the comments below your thoughts on respect and children.
Prachi Shah is a creative writer who enjoys writing stories for children and adults. She is avid reader and fascinated equally by dark, weird stories as well as fantasies. A former freelance feature and script writer, she is now juggling work on her own book of short stories and being a mother. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.