Sometimes, in a public place, if our child does not give respect to someone elderly or adult person , what do we feel? It is possible we might get angry then and there itself. But, getting angry may not help the child to learn respecting others. Here some of you may want to replace the respect word with polite. It may be the case that she is treating everybody at par, because we haven’t taught the child how differentiate behaviour from person to person. How to teach this is the question of importance here? Some of us force children to change their behaviour with elder people. But it may confuse child, because she may not be able to understand that age is the differentiating factor. Then what is better and safer way to teach respect to children?
Before getting into how to correct this behaviour, we need to look at the root cause of such behaviour. The root cause is in the conversation that happens with child since beginning. Root cause is in the language that she hears since beginning? Usually, as the child starts listening and appreciating words, she starts building her own vocabulary and subsequently language. The recording process is very fast and continuous. Slowly those words start coming out, i.e. the child starts speaking. In early days, we are allowing child to speak any word, because we are very happy to hear those words. Off course it would be stupid trying any correction in those days. Also, in early days, we do not pay attention towards, this soft aspect, whether child is including respect in the words and sentences to elders. Actually, we can not control and correct it. Some times we enjoy those informal call outs to elders, and encourage the child. Child just enjoys it. So do the elders who get called out. They actuly love child calling them out.
This continues till the child grows to certain age. After few years, we change our attitudes towards those informal call outs of child. We find it necessary to introduce the respect. We bring out all our methods to correct it. But, it just confuses the child. She doesn’t understand, why those things which were drawing love and claps from my parents till yesterday, all of sudden, are not correct? Why should I change it? Sometimes there is resistance to change, resistance to introduce respect in language. It becomes hard to teach this thing to children under such circumstances. We might scold children for this or opt even punishment route. Which is definitely not acceptable. Then how to overcome this challenge?
Here is an intresting observation. In some parts of India, e.g. in Utter Pradesh state, and even in few families that have some connection with Kings, family members treat, call everybody with respect. Even a child is called with due respect. Family members as well as people around call each other with due respect. We may not be able to adhere hundred percent to it, but at least if we start giving respect to our children, children may give it back. They will start respecting everybody. No harm in this right?
Here we rely on the quality of children – imitation. They imitate what they observe. They imitate what they listen. We speak respect with them, in front of them, around them, as much as possible, and they would imitate it. I agree, we may need to change ourselves a bit, but we can do it for our kids. What we need to do is – When we talk to child, we talk in a respectful language. When we talk to somebody, call out somebody, we call with respect. The child keeps on recording these things. As she starts talking, the first words will have respect filled in. If all or most of the people around the child follow same rule, child learns nothing else but respectful language.
Some of you may say, if we talk in a respectful, formal language with children, we don’t feel so close to children. I agree to some extent, but there can be balance of it. In some definite contexts, we follow formal language. When we want to express our love, naturally informal language will come. But the child will learn of respect in very first stages. It will not be difficult to built over it. If base is already available, then during later stages we might have to just mould the child a bit, and that’s it.
In short, give respect and take respect. Speak respectfully and you will get it in return.