Boys and girls need to be raised to become respectful, responsible, and honorable gentlemen and ladies. For that to happen, children first need a mother (mother figure) and a father (father figure) and then a whole lot of role modeling. The most powerful way to teach children anything is to say, be, and act the values that you want to teach them. Values are the most important determinant of adult behavior, and they start in childhood.
To teach RESPECT to children, you respect them first. After all, they don’t come to this world knowing how to do that. Here are some examples:
- Take them seriously when they talk to you.
- When you get them ready to go somewhere, let them know where you are taking them.
- Knock on their door before entering.
- Let them know in advance when you will change a predictable situation, such as changing bed time, the amount and time of TV watching, or a new discipline method.
- Let them know what is happening next. This helps create a feeling of security within the child.
- Be mindful of your words and actions in front of the children by modeling respect and consideration for other adults and children.
- Refrain from using language that you don’t want them to use. Instilling fear in children does not teach them to respect you. It teaches them to fear you, and that gets transferred to other authority figures later.
To teach RESPONSIBILITY to children, ask them to be accountable based on their age and
abilities. Here are some examples:
- Assign chores when they are ready. Teach them how, and expect them to do it.
- Show them where to put their shoes, clothes, backpack, belongings, etc., and expect them to do it (hopefully you are being a role model)
- Teach them to be accountable to their teachers for their homework and projects. Kids, who learn responsibility, learn to be more independent, and end up having better self esteem. By the way, self esteem does not come from telling the child that “you are special”. It comes from mastery of different tasks as well as mastery and control over self.
To teach HONORABILITY to children, you have to act in a way that the child sees and then can imitate. Here are some examples:
- Honor your words and stay with them.
- Do not lie to the child.
- Watch how you speak to people on the phone or in person when the child is present.
- Treat people kindly and decently.
You are the most important teacher of life your child will ever have, and as such your most important task is to develop their character. Every thing else is built on character values.