• Manners: Teach Kids to Respect Other People’s Things

    Respecting other people includes respecting their property. Here are a few ways we can teach our kids to do so.
    by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez .
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    2. Discuss and demonstrate.
    If your child is old enough (though you can do this even if he’s not), talk to him about the importance of manners and respecting others. In words that he will be able to understand, explain that personal property is important to everyone. You can start by asking him how he feels about his favorite things like toys and books, and how he would feel if something happened to them.

    Another thing you could do is to have your child list her favorite things, or draw them if she cannot write yet. Go through the list with her and ask her what she would do or how she would feel if this or that favorite item of hers was broken, lost or stolen. Tell her that other people, young and old alike, feel the same way towards their own things, and they would also feel bad or upset if something similar happened to their belongings.

    Again, showing our kids the kind of behavior that is acceptable is crucial, aside from talking about it. We must demonstrate respect to them by also being respectful towards them, no matter how young they may be.


    3. Emphasize empathy.
    Teaching children respect goes hand in hand with teaching them empathy. After all, when our kids are able to “put themselves in other people’s shoes” easily and frequently, they would most likely think twice before grabbing or breaking something that belonged to someone else. Kids who can relate to how others feel would also be less likely to steal or lose someone else’s property.

    In relation to this, we can also show our children things that are important to us and explain how we would feel (sad, mad, bad, etc.) if something happened to them.

    Empathy, therefore, is something that should be emphasized when it comes to parenting our kids. Again, we as parents must first model empathy, so that our children can learn from our example.


    4. Practice makes perfect.
    Take advantage of your child’s play time to “practice” what he would do in certain situations or act out how she would feel or say during specific moments.

    For example, if you are planning to have a play date or visit someone else’s home, play “pretend” with your child and remind him about what respectful words he should use and respectful behavior he should demonstrate. Say things like, “Let’s pretend we are going to Diego’s house. What if you saw a toy that you like and want to play with it? What should you do?” Then have your child act it out, as if he were in a play.

    Take advantage of “down time” with your kids to remind them about the proper behavior when dealing with others, and, conversely, improper behavior, i.e. grabbing; not asking for permission to borrow; breaking; destroying; stealing another person’s things; etc.

    Practice, practice, practice the right behavior and encourage our kids to do the same. Incorporating this practice in pretend play is one way to effectively teach our children.

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