Let’s face it — raising respectful kids is not that easy. However, as previously mentioned in related articles on respect, manners and proper behavior, teaching our children good manners and respectful behavior is necessary, especially when they become adults. Also, whether we like it or not, how our children behave is an indicator of our own character, manners and attitudes.
When it comes to respect, we must not only teach our kids to be respectful in words, but especially in deeds. This includes taking care of and respecting other people’s things. Here are some ways we parents can help our kids do the latter:
1. Practice what we preach. As in most things, our children learn from our example, so if we want them to respect other people’s property, we must model what behavior is acceptable or not.
For example, if you borrow something without asking, and your child sees you do so, he or she will think that this is acceptable behavior — even if you say that this is something he or she should not do.
In the same manner, if we take a certain item away from our children without telling them about it in a proper way, they will also think that this is acceptable. Even if our kids are young, we must speak to them respectfully, even if we are taking that particular item away as a “consequence” or “punishment” for something they did.
It would be best then to model the kind of respectful behavior we would want our kids to have. Always ask for permission when borrowing something and say “thank you” afterwards. When removing a certain item as punishment, explain to your child why you’re doing so, and tell him or her what he or she can do to get it back.
E.g. “Tim, I’m sorry but I have to take away your favorite toy now because you were not sharing with your sister. If you want it back, you must say sorry to her and learn to share your toys.”
When we do this, we show our kids that we still respect their property, even if they are being “punished.”
It may also prove fruitful for us if we teach our kids to ask permission when getting certain items, say, from the refrigerator or pantry. This way, we also avoid inculcating the “entitlement mentality” in them, something that brings about with it “a lack of appreciation for the sacrifices of others, a lack of personal responsibility and an inability to accept that actions carry consequences.”
When we teach our kids that everything is a gift or a blessing no matter how “underprivileged” they may feel, they can learn to be more appreciative and, in turn, more respectful of material things — whether their own or other people’s.