Today’s blog post is more like a list; it is a collections of thoughts, some of them are expanded, some are there just to prompt our own thinking. Each thing on this list gives us an opportunity to teach our children to show respect to others: to be others focused, to consider the preciousness of others – to think of them first – to treat others the way you want to be treated – to treat others the way God treats others. Respect is a basic virtue that drives so many choices, and is reflected in so much of what we do, and what our children do.
I share this list – it is much like a brainstorm – as you read through it, do a mental check –
- How are your kids doing?
- How are you doing modelling this level of respect to your kids?
- What needs the most work?
- What situations are happening in your coming week where you can highlight the need for Respect (and the lessons necessary)?
Show Respect for People’s Conversation:
- Can our children interrupt respectfully? They need to indicate their need to speak, wait patiently and excuse themselves to both parties before they speak.
- Telephone calls are conversations and need to be interrupted with courtesy.
- Reading a book is a conversation between reader and writer, therefore I ask my children to walk into a room and interrupt whatever I am doing with respect for my thought processes.
- Our children need to learn is what I have to say important enough to interrupt a conversation that is already happening? Can it wait? Is there an alternative?
Show Respect as you talk to People:
- Arguing their point, lobbying for their choices?
- Contradicting you in conversation?
- Is the tone respectful? The volume?
- Do they call you “names” even in fun? It is culturally accepting to call parents “the old man” or the like; this is not respectful, even in fun. Younger children may call us silly. Ever wonder where they get this from. I have heard myself say “Silly me!” but when it comes out of their mouth it doesn’t sound right and it is not right.
- Do they compliment you? Thank you? Bless you with words? If the children are not taught to show appreciation for a nice meal at home they will not show appreciation when you are out. If they grump at the meal at home they will not eat graciously when they are out. Reminding our children to be thankful for the little jobs we do for them is teaching them to open their eyes and be aware. Domestic blindness is a cop out for a lack of thinking of others. Our children need to be aware of what is done for them, and to be thankful in attitude and in words.
- Body language – what is it “saying” to you? Rolling eyes, folding arms, fidgeting – None of these things, at any age, is showing respect.
Show Respect for People’s Privacy:
- Our bedrooms are private space – even for the children. Knocking and asking if you can come in is showing respect, and should be the family standard, regardless if the door is open or closed. Our children are expected to be hospitable so they are to welcome people into their bedrooms but out of courtesy we all knock first.
- When you are on the phone – do the kids hang around? This often restricts the conversation. It is not respecting of people’s privacy.
- When you are dealing with one child do the others hang around? This is not respecting their sibling’s privacy. We are such stickybeaks, we need to be taught, to be made aware of the right thing to do so that next time they can walk away.
- Respecting people’s emotions – if a member of your family is finding something particularly sad – can other members get along side and feel with them, or do they insist on a party at that very time. That shows no respect for the feelings of sadness.
- As my children grow older and they stick with me when we are out socially instead of playing children’s games. I have taught them to be sensitive to the levels of conversation that I may have with other ladies. If we start talking about emotional or personal information the teenagers slip away. If they can’t discern they look to me to give them a signal. They are at an awkward age, they are welcome in most conversations and yet sometimes we need to protect privacy.
Show Respect by Serving Others:
Do you give the kids opportunities to help you? Serve you? Show you thoughtfulness? Show they care?
- Chores – with a happy heart – this is an opportunity to be “other” focussed – whether the other is Mum or the other is the whole family. Doing chores is serving someone else
- Do our children just do their chores, or do they help their siblings out?
- When taking food/drink and eating/drinking it in the presence of a parent, friend or sibling your child should make an automatic habit of offering either to share or to get some for the other person. “I’m getting myself a glass of water. Would you like one too?” “Would you like some of these chips?” This starts when they are very young and ask you for a drink, your reply is, “Can you ask your friend if they would like a drink too?” I often send Daniel down to ask Pete if he would like a cup of tea – I know he would, he’ll take one anytime! – but it is a training-to-serve opportunity for Daniel.
Show Respect by Good Manners:
Manners are such a huge topic – can’t possibly list all the manners that I think are appropriate for our day and age here. God says “Love is not rude” so therefore He would want our families to be polite. God also tells us to “go out into the world” therefore we need to be polite in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
- Yes please, thank you, may I? Include the name of the person you are talking to. Dad, May I please leave the table? Thank you Jessica.
- Eating nicely, using proper cutlery
- Sharing conversation around the table – not to be the one always talking – draw out other people into conversation
- Clear the table automatically, clear other people’s places too – ask if they are finished. Cleaning up after yourself in any situation – the meal table, the game room, the bathroom.
- Sharing – this takes so much self control and conviction that the other person is very precious.
Show Respect as you Come and Go (Greetings):
- Mr and Mrs
- hand shaking
- Make eye contact (A trick is to look to see the colour of the other person’s eye!)
- Begin with the person’s name
- Greet guests at the door and escort them inside, when guests leave, escort them to the door (or even to the car)
- When guests walk into a room – say hello – look up (even get up!) and take an interest in them.
- Make an effort to remain cheerful during the visit, think of things that your visitor would like to speak about or do
- Offer food and drink
- Ask guests questions about their interests and activities
- Comings and goings within the family should begin and finish with greetings. Keep people aware of where you are. Hi, I’m home. Or I’m off now…
Show Respect for Property:
Do you consider these common household items “Yours”. Unless they were given to the child as a gift they are yours – you paid for them! Here is a great opportunity to train your children to respect other people’s property.
- The remote
- Messages – phone messages are intellectual property (for want of a better description) the information in that message belongs to you and it is your child’s responsibility to get it to you. If they respect your ownership of the phone and/or the people who want to talk to you, messages will get through.
- Do you have a designated place at the table? Do the kids sit in your place? What about a favourite chair in the lounge room? This may seem not important, but when we think of how we want our children to behave in another situation – do we want our children to race in to a room and take the best seat? No! Then we need to train them at home that there are other people who need to sit.
The preciousness of others can be a phrase that rolls off our tongue and yet it needs to be practiced in our homes. It is a real and tangible principle – we put others first.
I encourage you to pick 1-3 items here and work on them intentionally and lift the standard of practice in your family.
A Practical Lesson in Showing Honour and Respect: There are opportunities in our everyday life to teach our kids to show honour and respect – we just need to take the time to teach.
Does your Child Recognise Authority outside the Home?: Our children need to respect and obey authority figures outside the home be it teachers, coaches, a boss or team leader.
Over to you?
Which one do you think you’ll work on first?