Fun Ways to Teach Children Respect for Others
Modeling respect is one of the easiest ways to teach children to be respectful. However, by creating a game of some of the basics, you teach children to be respectful of others without fear or shaming. Fun ways to teach children respect don't require many tools, just your imagination, focus and engagement.
Act It Out
Role play some common scenarios that your child encounters, regardless of his age. For example, act out how he might respond to someone passing him a pencil, toy or snack. To make it more fun and engaging for your child, switch roles and have him pass the item to you, while you pretend to be him receiving it. Act out how he should behave as well as how he shouldn't behave, making it fun and silly to emphasize your point. Then switch roles. After you've played the game, positively reinforce polite and respectful behavior by thanking him for respectful behavior and ignoring disrespectful behavior.
Make People-Watching Fun
At a crowded airport or while waiting in line, make a game of how many times you see someone acting politely and respectful. This reinforces for your child that respect for others is important. Have your child point out respectful behavior subtly, to avoid having her point and yell. For example, if she hears someone say "please" or "thank you," have her tap you on your leg. When you're alone, have her tell you what she witnessed. When you're out with several youngsters, have each one keep count of different respectful behaviors, such as when people open or hold a door, when a person uses polite words or when a person receives help. This way, the children don't compete directly, but each has a chance to observe and note respectful behavior in public.
Have a Special Meal
While respectful manners are important at a restaurant or a family holiday meal, it's hard for children to come up with this type of respectful behavior without practice. Identify one night a week to which the entire family comes and practices their best possible manners. While the children may get giggly over being overly polite and respectful, it's a safe environment for them to make mistakes and receive gentle correction. Start simple, with the correct use of the napkin, knife and fork. Move on to proper sitting and passing. Then progress with older children to polite conversation topics. As time goes on, the meal may become a standard for every night, with you reminding children of respectful behavior at all meals.
Use a Piece of Candy
If you're heading out to a special event, give each child a jelly bean or other small piece of candy. This method provides a fun and easy way to reinforce respectful behavior. Tell the children to swallow their manners as they eat the candy. If they misbehave, remind them that they ate their manners, so respectful behavior is now part of the event. You can accomplish the same without candy, too. Write down different ways to show respect and mind manners on a piece of paper. Fold up the paper and tuck it in your child's pocket. Now you can remind him that he's brought his manners with him and make silly, little comments, such as, "Where are your manners?"
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