Yesterday, when I arrived home from work, I was greeted by the dulcet tones of my two children…arguing. Oh great. As they repeated a non-stop, nerve-grating chorus of: ” Yes, you did! No, I didn’t! Yes, you did! No, I didn’t…,” I stood there thinking, now what do I do?
However, instead of leaping into action as I normally would in these cases, I hung back for a moment and considered: what is wrong with this picture? Then the answer hit me like a ton of bricks: lack of RESPECT.
When you think about it, disrespect – whether for one’s self, one another, belongings, or the environment – is the driving cause behind almost any conflict. When Jr. sasses-back, refuses to listen, breaks things, or acts out by hitting or hurting, that’s disrespect rearing its ugly head. Even worse, it is learned disrespect…and where might they have learned such behavior? You guessed it–us, the parents. (Go ahead, try to think of someone else we could blame. If you come up with the perfect fall-guy, please, let me know!)
So, how do we teach our children to be respectful? Given that children learn through example, does punishment for discourteous behavior ultimately teach respect? The answer is a resounding “no,” especially if the punishment is delivered in a manner which is, in itself, disrespectful. Many of us (parents) expect our children to behave in ways that we just do not demonstrate ourselves.
Maria Montessori and Respect
The Montessori Method of teaching starts and ends with a sense of profound respect for the individual child. Additionally, Montessori education teaches children to value one another, teachers, parents, and their environment. By treating them with the esteem they deserve, children learn to behave considerately toward others.
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”
So when it comes to discipline, we must strive to remember the number one rule (as Aretha said) is R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Whatever form of discipline you choose, see it through with your child’s sense of dignity in your mind and in your heart. If we want our children to be respectful, we must model respect ourselves.