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Value of the Month Excerpt (February)

Respect for life, for property, for parents, for elders, for nature, and for the beliefs and rights of others. Courtesy, politeness, and manners. Self-respect and the avoidance of self-criticism.

Introduction

The importance of and basic necessity for respect are self-evident. Respect is the basis and foundation (and often the motivation) for several of the other basic values of life. Children who learn both to implement and to understand the principle of respect will be better members of society, better friends, and better leaders.

The teaching of respect is an interesting and somewhat difficult proposition. The main thing to remember is that respect isn't given consistently unless it is received. We need first to respect our children (in terms of how we speak to them and how we treat them) and then to absolutely demand that they show respect for us in return. The respect they receive in the home will be the basis for their own self-respect; and the respect they learn to show in the home (to family members) will be the foundation on which to build respect for others outside the home.

General Guidelines

Teach by your own examples. Show respectful behavior. As always, example is the best teacher. During this month be ever-conscious of respect. Let your children see and hear you being concerned for the property and rights of others, assisting the elderly, caring for nature, being polite in all situations and showing self-respect in terms of how you look and how you speak of yourself.

Extend respect and then expect respect. Create the proper climate for respect in your own home. We often speak to and deal with our children with less respect than we show to strangers. We treat them as though they have no rights an deserve no explanations. We say "because I said so" and we give them no benefit of the doubt and assume they are guilty until proven innocent.

We need to change this, even if it requires imagining that they are strangers and speaking to them accordingly. Use the words "please" and "thank you" more. Ask them whenever possible instead of telling them. Ask for their advice or input on things. Respect their opinions.

Once we make this effort, we are in a position to expect (even demand) respect in return. Make it clear that respect includes tone of voice as well as manners. This expectation must be consistent and repetitive. Simply do not allow disrespect in your home.

Give plenty of praise and recognition. Reinforce respectful behavior and encourage its repetition. Make up your mind to watch for opportunities to praise courtesy and politeness during the month. Catch them doing something right and make a big deal of it. Praise them in front of other family members -- and then try to remember to praise them privately, one on one, later the same day.

Give them a chance to correct themselves by saying "Let's start over." This is a good method to correct disrespectful behavior in a positive way. Establish the pattern (and the habit, in connection with consistently not allowing disrespect in the home) of saying, "Let's start over." When a disrespectful answer is given, when someone fails to say "please" or "thank you," say "Let's start over." Then repeat the situation, letting the child do it right. Do this with children of all ages. And when necessary, say, "Let's start over" for yourself and then repeat your own statement or behavior in a more respectful way.

Methods for teaching this value:

Sample Method for Preschoolers:

The Red and Black Marks Chart

This exercise can help preschool children "keep track" and count incidents of respect and disrespect. Prepare a simple chart with the child's (or children's) name(s) on it. Explain that whenever he does something that shows disrespect (yells at Mom, interrupts, demands something without saying please, etc.) he will get a black mark. Whenever he is polite or uses good manners, he gets a red mark. Divide the chart by days and tell the child to see if he can get more red marks than black each day.

Sample Method for Elementary Age:

"Who and How" Chart

This helps elementary age children plan to be respectful. Set up a chart, perhaps on a large poster board, looking something like this:

Respect Chart
WHO HOW
Mother

Self
Teachers
Nature
Property

Obey Her
Talk Respectfully

Using the left-hand column, ask children to list the categories of people and things that deserve respect. As you list them one at a time, discuss how respect for that person or thing can be effectively given. (E.g., for "Mother": by "answering respectfully," "by obeying her," "showing appreciation for what she does," "opening door," "holding her chair," etc. For "Nature": by "preserving and protecting," "clearing and cultivating," etc. For "Self": by "avoiding self-criticism," "thinking about positive attributes," etc.) Keep the list building as long as you can keep children's interest.

Sample Method for Adolescent Age:

The "What Does it Lead to" Game

This game can help adolescent and late-elementary-age children see the ramifications of respect and of its opposite. Do an arrow diagram on a chart or blackboard. Start with respect and rudeness and then let the children think of words that they lead to.

For example:
Rudeness -->selfishness -->enemies -->anger
Respect -->kindness -->friendliness -->understanding

"Parenting-by-Objective"

Review the activities and stories that go along with this months value. Make sure everyone in your family understands the value so they can see how they can apply it in their own lives and situations.

Talk about the Monthly Value every morning and remind your family to look for opportunities to use the value throughout the day. They may also observe how others don't understand the value. Get your children to share their experience with the value each day at the dinner table or before you go to bed. Be sure to share your experience each day as well. It will help your children know that you are thinking about the value too.

For additional methods and ideas, consider a ValuesParenting Membership.