Thursday, 26 January 2012

Children and Respect

A young child is working on an activity that requires him to match animals to their favourite food.

The teacher walks in.

“Stop doing that. Start doing the alphabet activity you learnt yesterday” she orders.

The child continues working on his activity.

The teacher repeats her order in a stronger tone of voice.

‘I said stop doing that,”

The child, forced to obey, puts his activity material back rather reluctantly. 

He then begins the alphabet activity.

Did you observe what happened?

Two things happened.

  1. The child lost an opportunity to exercise his “thinking” muscle- He was trying to figure out how to match the animals with their favourite food, when he was forced to stop.
  2. More importantly, the child was not respected as an individual in the midst of an activity.

How often do adults (parents and teachers) scold children for interrupting their conversations or not letting them finish important tasks? Yet, the same adults treat the child in a similar manner. How then will the child learn what respect is?

The idea of respecting a child may seem rather strange, especially if you live in a society that places more emphasis on the young respecting the elderly. But think about it. Does age actually have anything to do with respect?

If we want children to learn to respect, it becomes our duty to model respectable behaviour. And that begins with respecting the child!

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