With Summer coming to a close and the start to a new school year just around the corner, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the values and beliefs you want to instill in your child before sending them off. In a world currently riddled with prejudice and a fear of the word “different” we must remember that hate is something that is taught and absorbed—and as unfortunate as that may be, it gives parents the opportunity to be the ones to prevent that absorption and replace it with love, respect and an open mind.
Today we are going to be sharing our tips for teaching our kids respect ahead of the upcoming school year.
1. Treat Young Boys and Girls Equally: Unfortunately, the way women in today’s society are treated is partially a result of the old phrase “Boys will be boys”—insinuating that any disrespect young boys show young girls is something that can easily be shrugged off as unimportant. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The more we allow our sons to get away with something as small as tugging a girls ponytail or as big as letting them believe only men can be Presidents, the more we perpetuate the social behaviors that allow “locker room talk” to be accepted. It’s also important to start using different pronouns around our kids. For example, be sure to reference doctors, scientists, caretakers etc. in both the masculine AND feminine tense rather than just masculine.
2. Expose Your Child to Different Cultures: Sometimes we as humans tend to stick to what we know and surround ourselves with people who reflect our own beliefs and customs—simply out of comfort. But when a child grows up being surrounded by what they know, they are far more likely to have less of an understanding for different cultures when older. A great way to expose your child to different cultures is by taking them to local cultural fairs, taking them to places of worship different than their own, and of course exposing them to literature and media that encourages the acceptance of all races, religions, genders etc. By taking the time to do these things with your child, they will quickly understand that there is no difference between one person and another, and that stereotypes are nothing more than stereotypes.
3. Manners Matter: It’s something that seems so basic and like common knowledge, but teaching your kids proper manners is a vital part of the foundation of respect. Please and thank you matter. Holding doors for people matter. Being grateful matters. So the next time you’re at the dinner table, don’t pass the potatoes until the request is followed by a please.