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From Talking to Reading
Respect is an amazing word. It’s a powerful word packed with wisdom and guidance. It’s universally accepted as a value that everyone must learn to live a successful life.

As a parent, then, it’s essential that you encourage respectful behaviour from your children. But what’s the best way to do that? As a first step, take a few muments to reflect on your own behaviour by writing down your answers to the following two questions.
  • When was the last time I behaved in a respectful manner?

  • How do I incorporate this value in my life?
Next, list the lessons you were taught as a child that encouraged respect. I have included my own list below.
  • I took my hat off when I entered a building.

  • I used courtesy titles with adults (“Mr.,” “Mrs.,” etc.).

  • I stood up to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem.

  • I picked up after myself in restaurants and theaters.

  • I never embarrassed my parents in public.LI>
Finally, to help you get a better handle on respectful behaviour, it’s important to define its opposite. So go ahead and list a few examples of disrespectful behaviour.

Now that you have thought hard about respect (and disrespect), you’re better poised to help your children behave respectfully. There are essentially three ways to do that:
  • By setting an example of how to be respectful of others

  • By praising your children for their kindness and thoughtfulness

  • By informing them when their behaviour is not respectful and teaching them how to behave respectfully the next time.
Remember, when you’re encouraging your children to behave respectfully, you’re also pumping up their self–esteem. Children who know how to be respectful win the admiration of adults and peers.

Though we live at a time where there has been a decline in respectful behaviour, people continue to be impressed by it. This is important for you to appreciate as a parent. There isn’t anything that will bring your children more personal gratification than living their lives in a respectful manner. When you are respectful to others it triggers a cascade of positive effects. It makes your feel generous, kind and capable and gives you a greater sense of connection with others. It also wins you smiles and reciprocated kindness.

I look forward to the time when people are more respectful than they are now. When that time comes, we won’t have to step over the debris that moviegoers have left in the theater aisles, or look at profane T-shirts. There will be fewer incidents of road rage and fewer children talking back to teachers.

As a parent, you can do your part to create this kind of world by instilling respectful values in your children. You’ll be doing them, yourself and the rest of society a wonderful service.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education