What Does 'Strong Character' Mean? II -- Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen
Respect for Others
Respect for others is based on self-respect and is summed up in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It is the value that makes the world a more decent and civilized place.
People show respect in many ways. They speak and act civilly—avoiding insults, cruel remarks and rude or crude language. They are courteous and considerate of others, including family members and friends, and care about their rights, beliefs and well-being. They treat others fairly and as individuals, regardless of race, sex, age or ethnic group. They display tolerance for people who do not share their personal beliefs and likes—so long as those people do not harm others.
Research indicates that children learn to respect others when they are treated with respect themselves. Constant criticism of a child, negative comments about him and failure to praise his achievements can lead the child to be disrespectful to others. Treating children with respect pays large dividends both to families and to societies as a whole.
What You Can Do
Practice respectful ways of communicating. Show your child how to talk to others with respect.
Help your child to resolve conflicts nonviolently. When facing a conflict, encourage your child to do the following: (1) Find out what the conflict is. For example, if your child is angry because his little brother barges into his room without knocking, help him to explain the conflict by using an "I" statement, such as "I feel angry when you come into my room without knocking." (2) Next, suggest different ways he might resolve the conflict. He could say to his brother, "I know I can't always hear when I'm listening to music, so you knock really loud five times—if I don't answer, then open the door." Or, "If I don't answer your knock, slide a note under the door." Or, "Let's use our walkie talkies." (3) Then have your child agree on one of the choices. (4) Finally, have him make a plan to check whether the solution is working.
Teach your child to respect the valued traditions of your heritage. Talk about family customs for showing respect, for honoring elders and for helping the community. Encourage her to do these things.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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