Teaching Pre-schoolers to Respect Others
Am I modeling good manners? I try to be intentional about making sure my children hear me say "Please" and "Thank You" to just about anyone and everyone we interact with on a day-to-day basis: the waitress who refills our drinks, the nurse who give them shots at the doctor's office, the barista who hands me my coffee, the grocery store employee that bags our groceries, everyone. In our family, we encourage "Yes, Ma'am"/"No, Ma'am" and "Yes, Sir"/"No, Sir". While we were most definitely encouraged to be polite, my husband and I were not raised to use the titles of "Ma'am" and "Sir". I definitely don't feel that they are a must for everyone, but here in the south, it is typically appreciated. We simply want our children to understand the importance of good manners...kindness...respect.
Do I allow my children to interrupt? This can be a difficult training area, but little ones needs to understand that it is inappropriate for them to interrupt when others are speaking. This is definitely one of the areas where we are most focused right now...especially when Mommy and Daddy are having a conversation....when someone is on the phone...when friends are over for dinner. Yes, we want our children to know that they are valued, and that what they have to say is important to us; but unless there is an emergency, the expectation is that our little ones not interrupt. We are for sure a work in progress on this one! What is our overall goal? To raise human beings who understand that the world does not revolve around them.
What do my children hear me say? While we all have frustrations with our family and friends (and did I mention family?), it is so important that our little ones hear us speak positively about loved ones in our life. We can not expect them to show respect to others if they do not see us modeling this quality in the way we speak about other people. Bad habits and generational patterns of gossip can be difficult chains to break, but it's never to late to break a negative cycle.
Are respectful responses expected? In our house, everyone seems especially grumpy when they are tired...hangry (angry because you're hungry)...or simply walking around without coffee flowing through their veins. Like every family, we have to be intentional about treating each other with kindness, compassion, and respect. Why is it that the ones closest to us...the ones we love the most...sometimes get the very worst of us? We want to encourage our children to respond to us with respect...even when they are tired and/or hangry; and we want to work to make sure we are treating them with the same honor we expect from them. Wow! This can be tough sometimes - especially on days when I've not had enough coffee (or prayer!). Time and time again, we have failed with each other in this, but one thing that has really helped me is writing this on the chalkboard in our kitchen (where we spend most of our time...so that no one gets hangry): "Love is patient, and love is kind." That does not mean that I let me children by with disobedience or disrespect - We most definitely address those things anytime we see them; but it simply serves as a reminder that our goal with each other should always be patience and kindness. Am I truly being considerate of my children...as I expect them to be with me?
Learning as I Grow
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