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The Importance of Teaching Respect to Kids


The importance of teaching respect to kids cannot be underestimated. Teaching respect in character education classes or other character building efforts can do much to increase academic achievement. Teaching respect within the family has additional benefits. The importance of teaching respect to kids comes into its own, however, when we understand that this gem from the list of character traits can greatly diminish bullying.

Define Respect

Teaching respect to kids begins by giving them an age-appropriate definition.

That definition should help children understand that this character trait addresses a person’s value. When we exercise this character trait, we do so by treating people in a way that shows that we value them. We do this even when nobody is watching, and when it requires personal sacrifice.

Teaching respect calls for words that help children understand that every person has value, based simply on being human. Teach that some people, such as elders, parents, and teachers, have additional worth, partially attributable to years of learning and experience.

In some cases, authority gives a person additional right to esteem. Parents, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and others qualify under this facet of the character trait. When we delegate authority to babysitters and others, they join the ranks.

Define this character trait as an action – an action that behaves toward people in ways calculated to recognize their value.

The Bullying Problem

The importance of teaching respect to kids comes into its own, as we stated earlier, when we apply that teaching to the problem of bullying. Bullying has always been a problem, and many treat it as a necessary evil. The problem is growing out of proportion, however. It is taking lives in increasing numbers.

The good news is that we can greatly diminish instances of bullying by teaching respect.

What do bullies want? Like most of us, bullies want to be admired. They want people to think they have great worth – that they are important. They seek recognition. The trouble is that they go about their pursuit of recognition in the wrong way. They employ tactics such as name-calling, fighting, and stealing to make others seem small and insignificant. Subconsciously, they appear to decide that the more people they bring down, the more they will raise their own worth.

Bullying is much like a cruel version of the “King on the Mountain” game many of us played when we were kids. In their merciless effort to be at the top of the mountain, bullies are willing to engage in violent pushing or pulling of others.

Bullies do not esteem others at all highly. When they push others around for their own selfish gains, they exercise disrespect. You have probably noticed this in adults.

Teaching Respect to Overcome Bullying

Adults need to begin teaching respect to bullies and non-bullies alike. In doing so, they should not at first mention the act of bullying. Rather, they should seek to help both sides of the equation be valued. The result will be a reduction in instances of bullying.

Teach children that everyone wants others to look up to them. Everyone wants to be esteemed and to feel worthwhile. There are good ways to show others that you have worth and there are bad ways.

When you choose good ways, you add to your value. You make it bigger so people can see it better. You make it sparkle so people cannot miss it. Good ways to show people that you have value include such things as doing good for others; caring for others; working to excel in academics, music, arts, sports, etc.

The choice of bad ways takes away from your worth. You make your value less so people have trouble seeing it. You make it appear dull and unattractive. You still have value. We all do, as humans. Yours will decrease, however, when you threaten, hit, shove, fight, intimidate, tease, steal, use name-calling, and gossip.


The importance of teaching respect to kids is often overlooked. Instruction in this character trait is under appreciated and, consequently, under used. If parents and teachers change that – if teaching respect becomes prevalent – society will gain immensely.

Source by Elizabeth L Hamilton

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