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Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to teach respect

This is a nice article I found on babycenter.com.

Trying to get respectful behavior out of a preschooler is like trying to get blood from the proverbial stone. That's due, in part, to the fact that her language skills are still developing. So, when told it's bedtime, she's unlikely to say, "Gee, I'm really having fun in the bath. I wonder if I could have five more minutes of playtime?" She's more likely to splash and yell, "No!" with gleeful rebellion glittering in her eyes.
What you can do

Demonstrate respectful behavior. "We don't generally give our children the kind of respect that we demand from them," says Jerry Wyckoff, a psychologist and the coauthor of Twenty Teachable Virtues. "We get confused because often, our upbringing makes us equate respect with fear. 'I really respected my father because I knew he'd hit me if ... ' That's not respect — that's fear." Instead, begin by listening. It can be hard to wait patiently for a preschooler to have her say, but it's worth it. Get down on her level, look her in the eye, and let her know you're interested in what she's telling you. It's the best way to teach her to listen to you just as carefully.

Teach polite responses. Your preschooler can show caring and respect for others through good manners.

Avoid overreacting. If your preschooler calls you a "stupid-head," try not to get upset (after all, you know you're not a stupid-head). A child who wants to provoke a reaction will endure almost any unpleasantness just to get a rise out of you. Instead, get face to face and say quietly but firmly, "We don't call each other names in our family." Then show her how to get what she wants by being respectful: "When you want me to play with you, just ask me nicely. Say, 'Daddy, I want you to come and have a tea party with me right now.'"

Expect disagreements. Life would be much easier if our kids always happily complied with our requests, but that's not human nature. Try to remember that when your preschooler won't do your bidding, she isn't trying to be disrespectful — she just has a different opinion.

Set limits. "One of the best ways to demonstrate respect is to be both kind and firm in your discipline," says Nelsen. "Being kind shows respect for your child, and being firm shows respect for what needs to be done." So if your preschooler throws a fit in the supermarket, and none of your coping tactics work, what do you do? "Kindly but firmly take her out to the car, and sit and read a magazine until she's done," advises Nelsen. Then you can say calmly, "Now you're ready to try again," and return to the store. Gradually she'll learn that a temper tantrum doesn't alter the fact that the food shopping has to get done.

Talk it over later. Sometimes the best way to handle disrespectful behavior is to discuss it with your preschooler later, when you've both had a chance to cool off. You can validate her feelings and make your point by saying, "Honey, I could tell you were very upset. What do you think caused that? What ideas do you have to solve the problem? What would be a more respectful way to tell me how you're feeling?"

"If a child knows you're really curious about her thinking, it's amazing — she'll often come to the same conclusion you would," says Nelsen. "And children can do this from the time they're 4."

Praise respectful behavior. Reinforce your preschooler's impromptu displays of politeness as much as possible. But be specific. "The praise should describe the behavior in detail," Wyckoff emphasizes. "We tend to say, 'good girl,' 'good boy,' 'good job.'" Instead, say, "Thank you for saying please when you asked for a treat," or "Thank you for knocking before you came in." Be explicit, and your child will quickly learn that her efforts are worthwhile and

appreciated.

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