Teaching children about respect and developing positive relationships is one of the most important things we can do, especially in today’s increasingly disrespectful world.
What It Takes
Being intentional and specifically having your students engage in activities focussed on respect will help them to understand the importance of their respectful actions and to understanding the difference between respectful and disrespectful actions and words.
Respect means showing regard for the worth of someone or something. It includes respect for self (self-esteem), respect for others, and respect for the environment, including other life forms. All other varieties of respect are outgrowths of these three. Respecting someone’s property, for example, extends from respecting the owner of the property.
When we teach students to show respect, we prevent them from hurting what they ought to value. If we are completely successful, they will end up valuing that for which they have demonstrated respect.
Other ways to foster respect include:
- Create a democratic classroom environment, in which the rights of all students are respected. Show your own regard for every student, every day.
- Expect students to be polite and courteous. Consistently model the use of “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” etc.
- Really listen to the opinions and contributions of students. Make it a rule that students listen respectfully to each other.
- Show your appreciation for diversity. Create an environment in which individual differences are celebrated, and where all students feel included and interdependent.
- Teach students a simple decision-making process and encourage them to use it. Respect their ability to make decisions for themselves. Serve as their advisor and consultant.
- When students have difficulty understanding how their behavior affects others, suggest that they apply the classic test of reversibility. Ask them: Would you want to receive this kind of treatment?
Here’s a great activity for working on one important aspect of RESPECT:
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