RESPECT - it ain’t just a song. Like many of you, I find myself singing Aretha Franklin every time I hear or see this word. But more than just a song, respect is something we need to instill in our kids in an age of growing non-respect for everything from authority to babies in the womb or our elderly. Respect is one of the first virtues we teach about at the Center because it’s the most basic thing your child can learn about himself and the world around him. Our rule at the Center is, “If you give respect, you will receive respect. If you don’t respect others, they will not respect you.” When students come to their first day at the Center, Mike insists they shake hands, say hello by looking him in the eye and giving him respect. He then respectfully shakes their hand, tells them hello and how glad he is to see them. The student is reassured that he is respected and cared for and becomes a more confident person. A child with a healthy respect toward his parents, toward other children and their belongings and to authority figures will have self confidence, self control and a happy outlook on life. Wow, that sounds great. But now how do you build that respect? It’s not something we just arrive in the world with. In fact, babies have little or no respect for us when they are first born. They are hungry now! They want that dirty diaper changed now! By our patience and care they learn that they don’t have to howl and turn red to get what they want. Mom or Dad’s gentle soothing voice telling them to be patient, help is arriving; reassures him that someone cares and is going to help. As our children grow, if we show them the same soothing patience when they want something, encouraging them to say “please” and “thank you” they learn that manners and respect will help them with the things they need in life. By giving respect, they also get respect in getting answers to their problem or questions. It takes an active parent to instill respect in a child. It doesn't happen overnight, there is no magic pill. As parents, we should listen to our children, but if they interrupt us during another conversation, we need to tell them they need to wait their turn. I’ve have used the line, “okay, it’s all right to interrupt if someone is dying or bleeding!” but otherwise they need to wait politely and as soon as I’m finished, I will ask them what they need. I wasn’t being a control freak or trying to lord over them, I was trying to teach them to be respectful. I wanted them to know that I loved them, but they weren’t showing me love if they acted without respect toward me. I also didn’t make them wait forever to tell me what they needed to tell me or to get help. Ignoring your child’s questions or wants doesn't help them learn respect either. It’s a two way street. Children learn how to give and get respect from their parents. When I was a grade school secretary/nurse, counselor, you name it, it was not uncommon to have student come in and demand (yes, demand) a bandaid for a cut they had. I would just look them in the eye, give them another chance and say, “Excuse me?” It usually worked after that and I got an “oh, please may I have…” But sometimes it took a little longer in which case I would just sit and look at them until they finally got the idea. (And no one ever bleed to death!) So where to you begin to teach Respect to your child? Here are some rules 1. Teach your child good manners and insist they are used both at home and out. 2. It wouldn’t hurt to encourage your child to say, “yes, sir, or yes ma’am” Try saying those phrases yourself, see how different it makes you feel! P.S. We insist on using those phrases at the Center! 3. As parents, you should not talk disrespectfully about your boss, your neighbors, etc. If you want to teach your child to respect others, YOU have to be a good example. 4. Keep your word! Do what you say you are going to do. 5. Show zero tolerance for disrespect. 6. Point out when others are respectful to you and your child. “Wow, that was really nice the way so-and-so say please or thank you!” Do y our child a huge favor and teach them to respect others and to respect themselves. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to me! Keep those kids good, strong & safe.