I tell my children all the time that good manners will get them far in life. It is such a rarity these days for people to be well mannered. Respecting your elders is one of those skills that are few and far between.
You know it’s important to teach our children to show respect for their elders. Well, have you taught them who are their elders? For example, parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles, technically it’s anyone older than we are. It’s important to also discuss that respecting our elders DOES NOT mean we do things that we know are wrong because they told us to do it. Remind kids that their body is their own and NO ONE, even elders, has the right to touch it anywhere.
What does respecting your elders look like?
Why do we need to teach our kids what respecting your elders looks like? Giving them hard and fast examples helps them to be successful from the beginning. Learning to respect your elders is an ongoing learning process.
First, teach them what an elder means? Is it anyone older than them? What about siblings? Is it all adults? Be very clear who an elder is and who isn’t one.
Now talk about what respecting your elders means. In my house, we give concrete examples but also emphasize that simple kindness to everyone is always the way to go. Kindness matters.
We answer respectfully when asked a question. We can say yes sir or yes ma’am to show that we respect them if we want. We don’t answer them or anyone with sarcasm or disdain.
We might go out of our way to help them, if we saw them struggling with something. We should go out of our way to help anyone who is struggling if we can and if it’s safe to do so.
The bottom line is, we’ll be “elders” one day. It happens to everyone. We all have elders to respect.
Here’s the thing, on the way to becoming an elder, you learn a whole lot just from living. Our families and our communities work better when the younger respect their elders and want to learn from them.
Have your children name the people that you know that are elders.
After all this, praise your children when you see them respecting their elders. Periodically go over with them what this means and what is out of bounds. Then enjoy your respectful children.
This skill has been featured as Skill Of The Week.