I’ve been a teacher for many years. I have also raised two beloved, smart and awesome children. They amaze me every day with what they are capable of. My main goal when teaching my own children and the children that come into my class each year, has always been to get them the tools to be respectful and self sufficient adults. For the past decade here are some techniques and strategies I’ve learned and used on how to respect your kids and in return gain their respect as well.
1. Be honest. Most people look at this and think okay that’s easy. But if you look at through a child’s perspective it truly is not. How many times have you said “I’ll pick you up early from school right after lunch”, but you don’t get there until after nap? Or you say “you can’t eat that cookie before dinner” and after five minutes of whining you give in just to make them stop? Things like this may seem such a big deal to you as an adult but to a child it is everything.
Even when it’s hard it is important to mean what you say and follow through with what you said. It’s the little things that start to build that foundation of trust. If you break your word on the little things how are they going to believe you when they grow older and are dealing with more important and serious situations?
They may not remember exactly what situation happened when they were little that taught them that you don’t do what you say or speak truthful, but the impression is forever imprinted on them.
When my son was five he began asking me if Santa was real. I really made my husband angry because I told my son the truth. I always felt that if he was old enough to ask he was old enough for the answer. I don’t mean give them all the details. You how much of an answer your child is ready for. I really believe that because I answered questions like that honestly when he was younger made it easier for him to approach me later in his teens with much tougher questions.
2. Deal with mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them in front of your child and don’t be afraid to let them make them. Feeling as if you’re invulnerable in your child’s eyes might make you feel great but actually hurts them in the end. If you don’t make mistakes you can’t teach them how to reasonably fix mistakes.
Don’t be afraid to tell your child I’m sorry. When you admit to mistakes it allows them to make and admit to them to. Being fallible shows children that you are strong and can move through adversity. This way when they grow up they can feel strong and have the self assurance that they can too.
3. Listen. Look them in the eye. Talk to them like they can understand you and if they don’t take the time to explain to them what you need or want. Really listen to their words. Please don’t just nod your head and say yep, sure, okay. Engage them in what they are talking about.
Think about the moments that are important to them, like dropping them off at school and picking them up from school. That routine may seem redundant to you but it is everything to them. That phone call can wait five or ten minutes. You can arrive home a few minutes later because they want to show you something in class. In this world everyone is in a hurry and they forget that these moments are foundations for your child to be who they will be as adults.
Taking a few minutes to really engage your child and not just be a physical presence shows them that they have worth. That they are important. I had a child in my class many years ago. She was smart and kind. Every time she got picked up from school her parent would get her papers and art that she worked so hard on and throw it in the trash on the way out the door right in front her.
Needless to say by the end of the year she didn’t bother working so hard. You might take home the same picture over and over but your child needs to see that you care about it. Look at it. Ask them about it. Engage them.
Easy enough right? So the challenge from reading this blog is to try, truly try and introduce these techniques into your already-existing parenting style. See what difference it makes in a weekend, and then a week. Soon enough you won’t think you’re doing it, it will just be second nature!
~ Ms. Dotty, ECE Professional
Young Scholars Academy