Every child is born with a different personality, but all of them need to be taught how to be respectful. Proper etiquette and manners are not merely surface-level niceties. In fact, these reflect deeper values of respect and even empathy.
We’ve all come across personalities who are positive and respectful, making them a joy to be around. They take an interest in others, are supportive and kind, and do not force their views on others.
Similarly, we can be role models for our children. Brainstorm ways on how we can show respect to the different people that cross our paths every day. This can include holding the door for a stranger, greeting our neighbours, saying ‘thank you’ to the cleaner at the food court, and so on.
Instilling respect takes time and intentional effort. Here is a simple 3-step process that you might want to use.
Step 1: Set expectations
Find a quiet, uninterrupted time where you have your child’s full attention, and explain the behaviour that you expect from them in any given situation. For example, if you want to reinforce the custom of giving respect to elders, explain to your little one why and how they have to greet their elders when visiting any home, or at a gathering.
You can also encourage your child to be friendly and strike up conversations with others at family gatherings, or when they meet new kids at the playground.
Remind them of the expected behaviour prior to going out.
Step 2: Hold a debrief
Take a few minutes after each family outing to debrief your children privately. Share with them specific things they did right, and where they can improve.
If they managed to interact with others in a friendly and respectful way, affirm your child for doing so. Talk about how these actions made others feel.
This is not meant to be a ‘scolding’ session, but to reinforce the etiquette standards you have set as parents. There will be times when they show disrespect to us or their elders, and it can trigger us to react in anger. Take a moment to calm down before communicating with our children.
We will be more effective teachers if we demonstrate respect and kindness to our kids even after they’ve made a mistake.
Step 3: Praise often
Praise and affirm your child when they show respect, especially if they struggle to do so. This will help to reinforce the behaviour and boost your child’s confidence along the way.
Remember that teaching values such as respect is a continual process that will take hard work and intentional effort on our part.
Take heart that as you sow the seeds of respect in their lives, you are also ensuring that they will grow to have deeper, more positive, and more enduring relationships with others.
Written by Judith Xavier
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