While bullying is currently a huge issue in education, part of bullying comes from a lack of respect. But respect, like many huge concepts boiled down into a single, often cliched phrase, is often difficult for children (and let’s face it, many adults) to understand. So what is respect…and how do we give it to one another?
Well, as Aretha Franklin once sang, “find out what it means to me”. In other words, treat others the way they would like to be treated. While some schools of thought suggest you should treat others the way you like to be treated, that kind of thinking seems to suggest that everyone is the same. While you may have no problem being interrupted in the middle of a conversation, someone else might. Of course, you can’t know the lines of respect for every individual you meet, and it isn’t reasonable to expect that kind of clairvoyance. So what’s the solution?
If you’re the one who feels disrespected, the key is to have patience and to communicate what boundaries you feel have been crossed. “I don’t like it when I’m interrupted,” you might say, rather than having a meltdown and feeling as though the conversation is over. When you step on somebody else’s toes, the response should be the same. Be apologetic, but don’t get too upset by it. Explain that disrespect was not your intention, and that you will work to fix the decision.
The best way to teach respect is through modeling. Show your children how you are respectful, even in situations that may have your blood pressure elevated.