A FACT SHEET FOR FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH FAMILIES
Children and Respect
don’t get no respect,” says a that action is important. We gain Educators, parents and other
well-known comedian. To the respect of children and show adults are disrespectful to
expand our understandings our respect for children by how children when we:
of what respect is and why it we behave with and around them. Do not take children’s
might be important, we might The adage still holds: To gain opinions seriously.
imagine a world in which nothing respect we must give respect.
is respected. Without respect, Respect is a two-way street. Use angry words under stress
(Continued on back.)
little or nothing would be of How do we give and gain
value, including ourselves or our respect? There are many active
relationships. No one would have a ways to demonstrate our respect
sense of empowerment in society, for children, and there are many
nothing would have meaning and ways to determine how well we
disorder would prevail. respect the children in our care.
The term respect means to be The following are a few examples
of respectful and disrespectful
The term respect means to be
mindful, to pay attention, to Educators, parents and other
show consideration, to avoid adults show respect for children
intruding upon and to avoid when we:
Allow a child to complete
what they are saying
mindful, to pay attention, to show uninterrupted.
consideration, to avoid intruding Allow children to make
upon and to avoid violating. mistakes.
Respect can be viewed either as
Allow and encourage civil
an outcome of our interactions,
for example, we give or gain disagreement.
respect, or the word can be used Allow transition time
to describe behavior, for example, from one activity to
when we behave in a respectful another.
manner. Used to describe Know how to say
behavior, respect becomes an no, and be willing
action word, and as parents and to say no and
educators of children we know stick to it.
and, in particular, direct good of individuals, as well as 4. Encourage children to
angry words toward them. behaviors that contribute discipline themselves and to
Finish children’s tasks for positively to the common good of voluntarily comply with
them, rather than giving our social environments. reasonable social rules.
encouragement or directions From this perspective, we can 5. Provide opportunities for
and allowing them time to more easily remember to actively participatory decision making,
finish tasks for themselves. educate children to the fact of life some group rule making, and
that with rights come limits and shared responsibilities.
Answer questions for them. responsibilities. We need to ask
Shout or use sarcasm. 6. Teach the values of sharing
children questions such as, “Would
and tolerance through
Rush them. you want to be treated with way?”
cooperative projects and
or “Would you want all persons
Do not take care of our own cooperative conflict resolution.
in the world to act this way in
physical or emotional needs. 7. Promote discussion and debate
similar situations?” These types of
Respect is shown when children questions help children to define of ethical issues as they
get recognition for who they are and shape their individual, inevitably arise in daily activities.
and what they do, when they are personal and social responsibilities These might include issues
allowed to exercise options and in a democratic society. Most such as fairness, inclusion
make choices within acceptable people, though certainly not all, and exclusion, following rules,
frameworks, and when their would agree that values such as cheating and a host of other
choices are acknowledged and compassion, due process, equal things that arise during the
accepted. Respect is not shown opportunity, freedom of thought, course of a normal day.
by deferential treatment, by honesty, integrity, critical inquiry,
Effective educational programs
fawning over them or by well- knowledge, and tolerance are
have effective adult leadership. An
intentioned deception. It is often human values that cross ethnic,
effective leader who wants to help
too easy to disrespect children class, gender and religious
children learn respect will both
because they are physically boundaries.
inform and involve children, is
small, are more dependent than How might we educate children
straightforward and honest, and
most adults, and have less ability to respect themselves and others?
identifies a focus such as respect,
than do adults to control their Lickona (1988) suggests that to
integrity or compassion that
needs and wants. They need develop children’s capacities to
children can develop and work
more explanations, they need think, feel and behave respectfully
toward over extended periods of
more time and their behaviors requires parents and educators to:
are childish simply because they 1. Serve as models of respect
are children, not yet capable of by caring enough to interact References:
conforming to adult standards. with and correct children Lickona, T. (1988). “Educating
when they behave insensitively the moral child.” Principal, 6-9.
Teaching Mutual Respect: towards others. Prepared by Marilyn Ellis,
The Two-Way Street 2. Develop cohesive groups by Extension 4-H/Youth Specialist
helping children interact and For more information on family
Teaching mutual respect, at its learn about each other so they issues, contact your county
core, refers to character education gain understanding of each Extension office or the State Family
and to values education, areas other’s uniqueness, and in Living Office, UMCE, 5717 Corbett
that easily may differ widely Hall, Orono, ME 04469-5717, (207)
this way feel each is truly a
among individuals in any given 581-3448/3104 or 1-800-287-0274.
part of the group.
social group. In a multicultural A Member of the University of Maine System.
3. Hold children accountable to
society, questions immediately Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts
high standards of academic
arise as to whose values should of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the
responsibility so that they University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the
be taught. One way to address Land Grant University of the state of Maine and
learn abstractly as well as
this issue is to promote behaviors the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.
interpersonally how people Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the
that affirm human dignity, protect U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs
develop and contribute to the
human rights and advance the and employment. 7/02