Activities to Build Respect

By David Stewart
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Children are not born knowing how to respect others, they learn it through practice. There are ways to teach your school-aged children about respect and its value. Respecting others is not just a moral requirement but also a habit necessary to live in harmony within society. You’re more likely to raise an individual with a healthy respect for himself and others by laying the foundation at an early age.

Writing Notes of Appreciation

Teach children to respect the acts of goodness of other people by asking your child to write notes saying “thank you” to people who help or act in a way that makes her feel good. A note to a teacher who appreciates your child's work, a friend who says "sorry" because he’s done something wrong, or the bus attendant who helps your child get onto the bus, are some examples. Write such notes to your child whenever you see her doing something good, such as helping you in the kitchen or behaving well at the dining room table. This will inculcate the habit in her of writing thank you notes.

Learning About Inspiring Individuals

Choose examples of individuals from among your family and friends, or the nation’s history, and talk about them with your child. Maybe your parents worked beyond their capacities to give you a good education and life. If so, tell your child about the results of their action and how you respect and value your parents for their contributions. Tell your child about such leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa and what they did for mankind. This will teach your child that everybody needs to be treated well whatever their race, nationality or gender.

Watching TV

Sit down with your child and watch his favorite program. After the program, ask him about the characters he liked and disliked. Have him write down the qualities of the people he liked and disliked. Ask him to explain what he liked or didn’t like in a particular quality. Help him identify respectful qualities and explain the importance of each. For example, if your child says something like, “I hate Tom because he always tries to hurt Jerry,” respond by saying, “hurting others is disrespectful and you should not do that. If you do, others will dislike you just the way you dislike Tom.”

Acting Out

Prepare a list of actions that show respect and disrespect and act them out with your child. For example, ask your child to give a speech imagining that she is in front of the class. Do something rude, such as looking sideways or moving around, as she talks and interrupting her more than once as she speaks. Ask her to speak again once she finishes and this time listen to her attentively. Thank her once he finishes, then say politely “I have a few questions. May I ask them?” Ask her to write her feelings in both these cases and question her as to which behavior she liked and why. Explain that she should not behave with people in ways that she doesn’t like when others do it to her. Act out different respectful and disrespectful behaviors.