Kolb's Corner




What is respect? What does it mean? Respect means a lot of different things. On a practical level it seems to include taking someone's feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences into consideration. It means valuing a person and their thoughts, feelings, etc. It also seems to include acknowledging people, listening to them, being truthful with them, and accepting their individuality and idiosyncrasies.

Respect is fundamental to everything we do in life.  This principle holds the key to resolving many of the world’s ills, from family problems to global crises. Unfortunately, respect is a word that is frequently used without the understanding of the underlying principles.

Many of us grew up hearing that we were supposed to respect our elders. Most likely, we were taught that the mother is supposed to respect the father, the father is suppose to respect the mother and the children are supposed to respect the parents.

Respect is not a one-directional virtue. It is not meant to flow exclusively in a vertical path, from “lower” to “higher.” Nor is it something that is deserved by “higher” and earned by “lower.” Respect is something that belongs to every living thing and is held in trust by all human beings. It belongs to the wife as well as to the husband; it belongs to the son and daughter as well as to the father and mother. In short, respect is not earned; it is held in trust for and by all human beings.

So, how do we, as parents, want our children to show respect in their daily lives? How do we want them to show respect in school, on the playground and in their activities. As parents, we would do well to ask ourselves, frankly and honestly, how do we want our children to behave in their classrooms? Do we want them to behave as if the entire world revolves around their every want and need? Do we want them to be the class clowns? Do we want them to be disruptive?  Or do we, instead, want them to be respectful of others. How do we want them to behave on the playground? Do we want them to name call and use profanity? Do we want them to hit and kick? Or do we, instead, want them to be able to problem solve when conflicts arise, use kind and respectful words toward their classmates and include others in play?  How do you want them to behave in their activities? Do you want them to scream and holler at the official if he/she makes a call they don’t like? Do you want them to yell and criticize a teammate when he/she makes a mistake? Or do we, instead, want them to be encouraging of their teammates? Do we want them to be peaceful in play and accepting of mistakes?

One way we teach respect is by modeling it. We can show respect for children and encourage them to respect others, all others-older and younger, richer and poorer, of every race, color, and belief. That may be simple to understand, but is not always easy to do. When we speak to children using kind and respectful words and actions, we teach them respect. When children see us deal respectfully with all the people with whom we come in contact-our neighbors, salespeople, the secretary at the office, the workers who come to our homes-they learn what respect is in reality.

Follow this up by using dialog to explore what the children observe in your behavior and why they believe it is important to deal with people in such ways.  Whenever possible, create opportunities to involve them in role-taking situations. For example: “If you were in my situation and had to _______, what would you need to consider in coming up with the most respectful way to handle it?”

Such role-playing will help prepare them to make necessary judgments about how to treat others-friends, strangers, classmates, teammates, and teachers-with respect. It will also help them know that they, too, are worthy of respect by virtue of their humanity.

(Vickie Kolb –Brandon Elementary Counselor)