I have frequently heard or read the following question “what is the most important thing you can teach your children?” While it is not easy to provide a single answer, I have found that almost all of the things that are important to me boil down to just one word: RESPECT.
By respect, I mean respect for people and living things, as well as objects. With my children, I am learning the importance- the necessity – of treating them with respect. I try to remember to thank them when they help me with something, to listen to them and to value what is important to them. By doing this, I have found they are becoming more confident, taking the initiative and putting away toys themselves, thanking me or others without being prompted, taking turns and being nice to others. This is not the case all the time, but it has been happening more often than not.
One day per week, my youngest son and I go to a local bookstore for story time. We enjoy this location primarily because of the story teller- an older woman who has an amazing knowledge of books and is a very entertaining reader. I cannot think of a time when I did not like the book she chose (on more than one occasion I have walked up to her after story time is over and taken the book right out of her hands so I could buy it) and my son’s face lights up because she also acts out the story.
Every week, after reading the story, she kindly asks the adults to please pick up any books their children may have been reading and put them away. And almost every week, she is picking up most of those books herself:
from the floor, tables and chairs. Last week, I came across a pile of books on the floor that were covered in milk.
Now, I know what you may say- this is her job; she is paid to put away books and clean up after customers. (Remember that thought when you are annoyed that your older child refuses to clean up their room.) But to me, this shows a lack of respect for her and for the wonderful books at the store.
Whenever I am out with my sons, I make a concerted effort to make sure they (not me!) put anything they pick up back where they found it when they are done with it. They also help throw away their own garbage.
It is never too early for children to start learning to treat others and things with respect. As parents, we can be the best example for them.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.