Mom Tip Monday: Mutual Respect

by Heligirl on February 28, 2011

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles,Positive Discipline

We all need respect, including our children. Remember the old adage that children are to be seen but not heard. Does this sound respectful to you? It’s sad what that kind of attitude did to self esteem. It developed a huge group of people who still feel they don’t deserve to be respected. I received some great information about this topic at a recent positive discipline class I’d like to pass along so you too can help avoid this pitfall.

Being respected means being valued as a worthwhile human being. It is being treated with dignity regardless of human differences such as age, gender, race and even knowledge and skills.

There are two main facets to respect, mutuality and equality.

Mutuality is a two-way street (I respect you and you respect me.) For that to happen we must also respect ourselves.

Equality is the basis for mutual respect. In this context, equality does not mean sameness as in the mathematical equation 2+2=4. The equality rests in the fact that we are, despite our individual differences, human beings, belonging to the human family where we are all the same in needing to be treated with dignity and respect. It means we have value or personal worth simply because we are human beings.

Mutual respect between adults and children
Many of us were raised with the idea that children must respect adults, while children were frequently treated with disrespect. This one-way respect was taught with the moral authority of obedience and enforcement with reward and punishment. Children were controlled by the adults in their lives. Under this system, children have learned to have others think for them, to avoid mistakes, and to be submissive to an external authority.

Mutual respect between adults and children requires a major shift in beliefs and techniques of parenting. While the roles of parent and child are very different, the individuals involved are of equal value as human beings. When adults are providing for, nurturing, and teaching children in a non-punitive way, children come to believe that they are worthwhile, that they have abilities, and that others believe in them and trust them. Parents can most effectively assist children’s learning and progress toward becoming independent, contributing individuals with strong internal motivation by:

  • Encouraging and valuing children’s contributions, ideas, and efforts.
  • Accepting and acknowledging children’s feelings as valid, legitimate, and real.
  • Finding opportunities for children to make choices and decisions.
  • Accepting mistakes as opportunities to learn.
  • Giving assistance in, and opportunity for, critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Sharing affection and fun with children.
  • Remembering that example is the most powerful teacher.

Remember, when children are free from the anxiety of inadequacy, they develop the ability to be concerned for the thoughts and feelings of others.



{ 1 comment }

Susan March 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

You hit on one of my favorite PD topics and personal pet peeves. I abhor it when children are raised to “respect their elders” by being treated disrespecfully (punished). I have a dear, misguided friend who believes that in order to respect a person, you must fear them (fear of what bad thing will happen to you if you don’t do what they say, when they say). That is not respect. That is fear and dominance.

I never thought about the self-esteem and self-respect side of it. Wow! That explains a lot. If you are not raised with respect, you will believe you don’t deserve it and won’t have it for yourself. Big aha moment here. Thanks Jen!!
Susan recently posted: Advice For Your Ring Bearer

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