It is our job as parents to teach our children respect. I have seen countless situations where children act disrespectful toward others and this is disheartening. Respect is not innate. Respect is a learned behavior.
Over the course of several years I have been to many school concerts and performances. My oldest daughter is first chair in band and I attend every performance that I can. At those performances, children make up a great part of the audience. The grades of these children range from fourth to eighth grade (8/9-13 years old).
During the performances, children are disrespectful. They run rampant in the auditorium, talk loudly, and run in and out of the heavy, loud entrance doors. These same children are constantly jumping, bouncing, and climbing on the seats. This behavior is not only disruptive it is disrespectful to the performers on stage.
The students performing on stage have worked very hard to put on these concerts. Audience members, try as they might to ignore the behavior, are interrupted by the actions of the children. The parents seemingly do not attempt to correct the behavior.
I am a parent of a younger child myself. I understand kids get restless when they are expected to sit quietly for an extended period. Essentially, they are bored. I have taught my youngest child that she must respect others no matter how she feels.
How Do We Teach Our Children Respect?
Children look to us to find out what our expectations are of them. However high we set our expectations; they will live up to them.
Children are led by example. If you model respectful behavior, they will follow suit. If you are loud and disruptive, you can certainly expect your children will be too.
If children act respectfully, they should be commended and praised. Praise gives them the recognition they deserve. This sets the foundation for continued positive behavior.
Alternatively, if your children are disrespectful, you should discourage and correct the problem. Tell them they are being disrespectful without being disrespectful or aggressive yourself.
Talking to children about respect goes a long way. You should make sure they understand the concept. If they do not understand what you are talking about, the behavior will never change.
Tell your children what you expect from them before an event or gathering. In the example I gave, the children should be told their siblings practiced hard for the concert. We should be considerate and sit still during the performance. We should also be respectful of other audience members. Explain to your children that constant movement and slamming of doors is disruptive. It should also be called to their attention that disrespectful behavior could ruin a recording, should audience members or faculty be taping the event.
Good behavior deserves positive reinforcement. Thanking children for sitting quietly during a performance goes a long way. Children like to hear when they are being good. This is a reward with intrinsic value, which leads to more of the desired behavior. At the same time, they need to know when they are being disrespectful. They will never know unless you tell them.
We must remember teaching children respect is a part of our parental responsibility. Disrespectful children grow into disrespectful adults. A respectful child is considerate and compassionate. The resulting adult will be more likely to work well with others, fit in socially, and thrive.