How do I teach children respect

Posted: Sunday January 30 2022

By: Abbie Coleman

I’m writing this post in anger, which is probably not the best mood to stimulate creativity; but at least I’m going to be honest as a result.

How do I teach children respect

By Diane Hall

Do you teach your children to respect the difference of others?

If a child is nasty or cruel to someone else, is it the child’s fault, or the parents’?

I’ve just had to console my twelve year-old; she was invited to play and was waiting patiently for her ‘friends’ to be dropped off at the end of our drive. Only they drove past her as she stood smiling at them, pipping the horn at her before driving off. When she phoned to ask why they didn’t stop, they just screamed with hilarity and hung up.

Now, the kids are twelve. They’re still young, (though there’s no excuse in my eyes for this kind of behaviour at any age). But they were in a car. Which means someone over the age of eighteen knew what they were doing and thought it funny too.

An older brother/sister perhaps? Or a parent?

If the former, shame on him/her. If the latter…well, I have no words.

Unfortunately, my youngest has strains of Asperger’s. She finds it hard to understand relationships, boundaries, or the ‘right’ behavior.

Fortunately, my youngest has strains of Asperger’s. Which means, though she’s upset now, in five minutes she’ll barely remember what happened.

I wish I could say the same – the nastiness some kids show her is terrible. Yet she still goes back for more.

I try not to be mad at Zara, my twelve year-old, but it’s hard. I want her to stand up to these kids and say, “Yah boo! I don’t need you!” But she doesn’t; she thinks, this time, they’ll be different. That deep down, they really like her. That they don’t mean to be mean.

I also feel mad towards the parents. If I was a ballsy extrovert who never shies away from confrontation, I’d head over there and question their parenting skills. But I’m not – I’m like the many parents who prefer not to make a fuss, but instead say, “Just don’t play with them again, dear.”

I try my best to educate Zara on friendship, how to respect others, manners and behaviour – right up to the capacity she’s able to handle. Despite this, she’ll always act differently to how I’d like – because she doesn’t know she’s smothering people/being inappropriate/acting ‘oddly’. I don’t expect kids to understand fully – but I pray that they walk away from her and the behaviour they don’t understand, as opposed to using it as a weapon to treat her badly. Because that’s not on.

Do you educate your kids on how to respect other people’s differences and qualities? When did you last sit them down and explain that we’re not all made the same? Have you ever made sure they know not to bully someone who doesn’t know any better?

I’m someone who wishes for utopia. That everyone would be the same, everything would be fair, there’d be no ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’, and we’d all get along, but I know that’s silly. Zara’s condition is mild compared to other kids on the same waiting lists and at hospital visits, and though she has problems, she also has some fantastic quirks. She’s a brilliant singer, an unashamedly confident performer, and someone who would give their last breath to make the next person happy.

To treat others well is as much an important lesson for your children to learn as it is to be toilet-trained, or to read and write. School may cover such an issue in a lesson here and there, but the main way your children will learn this is by watching or listening to you.