Good manners and having respect for others open many doors in life. Words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ should be part of a child’s vocabulary as soon as he or she is able to speak.

teaching kids respect

Why is it important to instil respect from young?

Respect is an important virtue to impart to our young ones as it is an essential life skill to develop positive relationships with people on a daily basis. Having good manners and respect for others allows a child to grow into a confident individual who is able to interact and socialise with others.

This is also why our teachers at Kinderland strive to help our children develop in a holistic manner through nurturing essential life skills. Dispositions that are crucial to children’s development, including respect, are weaved into all aspects of our curriculum in efforts to instil good character building from young.

How can parents introduce or teach the concept of respect to children?

Teaching good manners to a child is challenging but rewarding. At Kinderland, teachers endeavour to nurture children with an attitude of caring and respecting the people around them. Here are some ways we can adopt as we begin inculcating the values of respect to our little ones.

  • Respect starts at home

teaching kids respect

For a start, parents can encourage their child to practice their ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at home. Make it a daily practice so that children will form this good habit over time.

  • Being a role model

Children look up to their parents and learn after them. As such, parents should be mindful of their choice of words when interacting with other adults.

  • Use positive discipline

In a child’s growing years, he/she will inevitably make mistakes but is unaware that the behaviour is disrespectful. To correct this, parents should listen to what their child has to say, teach him/her how to express themselves in a respectful manner and reward them with positive reinforcement when applicable.

Keep punishment to a minimum when teaching the concept of respect to children lest they equate respect to fear. For example, “I respect my father because I knew he’d hit me if I don’t” signals fear, not respect.

When is a good age to start introducing this concept?

At the age of three, children begin to grasp the connection between actions and consequences. This is also the good age to introduce the concept of respect and explain the importance of practising good manners.

When teaching a child to be respectful, it is best for parents to establish a rule between themselves and the child so that he/she learns to behave respectfully or there is a consequence for their unacceptable behaviour.

This can be in the form of reduced TV time for every disrespectful action. The consequence should not instil fear so that the child learns to be respectful because he wants to and not because of the punishment.

If children do not respond well to this idea, what can parents do?

Find out the cause. Disrespectful behaviours are usually an expression of frustration. It is important to talk to your child and find out what’s causing his/her emotions. When a child’s needs are attended to, there is a higher chance of them being respectful.

Praise the good behaviour while correcting the bad. It is important to notice a child’s good behaviour even when he/she is disrespectful. Children respond well to praises and acknowledging their good behaviour reinforces those skills.

At the same time, it is important to let your child know that regardless of how they feel, it is important to find a way to act appropriately. It is crucial to help your child learn the skills he/she needs to handle his/her emotions in a calm and appropriate manner.

This article is contributed by Dr Carol Loy, Director of Curriculum at Kinderland Singapore. This is part three of a series by TNAP and Kinderland, focusing on developing E.Q skills in children. Read part one on the spirit of giving here. Read part two on teaching children patience here.

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