So…we want our children to grow up with the virtue of respect embedded in their hearts. How do we make that happen? How do we plow the ground for respect to grow? How do we mentor, model, and monitor respect?
My friend, Dr. Robert Freado, has served as a teacher, coach, and principal at all levels of the school system. I have the privilege of teaching a parenting class with Dr. Freado at our church. Here are six ways he gives to mentor respect. I have added some personal comments.
Six Ways to Mentor Respect
- Use positive talk to promote respect.
Sounds simple, but negative and cutting language tears a child down. Not only does it hurt them, but it teaches them that negative language is acceptable in communicating to others.
- Emphasize the importance of manners and common courtesies.
I will never forget walking into Exchange Bank in Perry, Oklahoma one afternoon and learning a lasting lesson of respect from my dad. I watched him hold the door open and let others walk in before us. He didn’t make a big deal of it, but that made a lasting impression on me. That small act demonstrated respect.
- Be the parent.
It seems too many parents would rather be their child’s friend than a mom or dad. Too many parents give into peer pressure and allow their children to participate in unhealthy activities or situations. If we are going to teach and model respect, sometimes we will have to tell our kids “no” regardless of the peer pressure they are receiving, or the peer pressure we may be receiving from other parents.
- Speak respectfully about teacher, community members, neighbors, and coaches.
As a parent, you will not always agree with the grade your child receives from a teaching. You will not always agree with how much playing time a coach gives your son or daughter. But speaking disrespectfully about these authority figures will erode the healthy and proper respect your child should have for them. I am not saying the teacher or coach is always right. But their actions may be the life experience that God provides to teach your child respect for others.
- Teach respect through the power of kindness and compassion.
For years, I took our children out of school around Christmas to serve at a Salvation Army Food and toy give-away. I wanted our kids to know that people down the road from us were going through a tough stretch in their life. And I wanted our children to serve them. Teaching involves life experience. Find a place to serve with your children.
- Demonstrate the importance of respect by how you respond to situations.
Once I was promised my phone plan could be renewed and upgraded on a certain date. I waited for the date and took my phone in expecting to get the upgrade. But the salesperson informed me that the plan had changed. What had been promised could not be delivered. I am saddened to say, I didn’t handle the news well (that’s putting it mildly). And unfortunately, two of my kids were with me. As a dad (and a preacher), they have heard me say many words that they’ve forgotten. But they will not forget that experience, and every once in a while, jokingly remind me of how poorly I handled the situation.
Parenting is modeling and mentoring…show and tell. Our actions must match up with our words. Let me know what you think of these six ways to mentor respect. What are ones that you would add?