If you have ever had children, then you have either already reached this stage, you are in the midst of it, or maybe you haven’t yet, and you just want to be prepared! At around age five, respect comes into play quite a lot, and this critical age can decide whether or not your child becomes a successful, respectful and polite little youngster.
At age five, grade school children are not exactly perfect role models of what a dutiful child should be. In fact, it would seem that it is sometimes quite the opposite! At this time, it may feel like they are constantly trying to get your goat, get on your nerves, and make you stress out.
Keep in mind, however, that this is not done on purpose but is, in fact, a side effect of not having been taught respect. Up until then, children are usually given what they want because they are so ‘little and cute’ and are always being babied by his or her relatives.
One of the key things that you can do to lay the foundations of respect is to talk to your child. This may seem like an obvious one and is something that you are already doing, but hear me out! Holding eye contact and sitting or standing correctly when your child is attempting to explain something means that they will most likely replicate that behavior towards you. (Here’s a book worth checking out for some advice: “How to Talk to Your Child”, by Adele Fabor)
Teaching your child correct and polite responses is also very important. At this age, your child will have some basis of respect for other human beings, and will most likely already be saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ quite often. However, it is always a good idea to keep reminding your children to say these words and to get it indoctrinated and cemented into their minds.
Drilling these two phrases into their head is crucial. It is not merely about saying please or thank you when it comes to requesting or receiving something, though. It is about creating a caring attitude of attentiveness and respect. They will use this way of speaking to other children and adults in their social and academic careers, as well as just personally.
Now that we’ve come this far let’s take a look at some of the more ‘extreme’ scenarios where respect, for you and your child, is ultimately needed the most. Let’s say you don’t give little Johnny a cookie (because he had already had one earlier) and he calls you something childish (no pun intended) like ‘butthead.’ Do not overreact!
Children, especially young ones, tend to provoke their parents, siblings, and peers to evoke a reaction out of them. Children love to tease, and when you react to their insult, they tend to get it into their mind that they can always do it. They will repeat this process more and more until you snap (considering thence that you never tried to remedy the situation) and you give them a malicious reaction. At this point, they play the victim, you’re the bad guy, and they get babied by the other parent and become spoiled.
This tends to happen quite a lot and is one of the many reasons why you see so many outright rude or snobby children today. Have you ever been in the supermarket and saw a child begging, crying, or screaming to his or her mother, and the mother is just ignoring the child? You do not want to do this! Instead, respond to the child and correct them gently but firmly. If you do not, they get it into their head that they are permitted at all times to act this way.
To wrap this up, respect is an incredibly valuable tool that needs to be taught to your children from an early age, so that they develop mature and polite social skills for use in their life ahead.