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Back when we parents were kids, everyone followed the "it takes a village to raise a child" motto. This meant that if you went into your neighbor's yard and they saw you doing something you weren't supposed to, they would get on to you and send you home to your parents. And, when you got there you either had to tell your parents what you did, or face worse consequences when the phone rang because the neighbor was calling to let your parents know.
That just isn't how it is these days, though. And, while you hated that there were always eyes on you as a child, and you didn’t like that the neighbor would tell your parents what they saw you doing, you did have respect for those adults around you.
Things have changed since then. We have realized that it really doesn't take a whole village to raise a child, but we have lost sight of the fact that our children need to respect all adults. In the process, we have forgotten how to teach them this very important detail of life.
The following are just a few ways to show your child how important it is to respect all adults and to keep it as a rule in your family:
• Teach by example—just as with anything else, it is best taught by doing. To do this, you simply need to be nice to people older than you. Tell your child that this is why you are doing these things—possibly opening the door for an older person or offering to let them step in front of you in line—because they are older than you, and you have to respect people older than you. You can also show elders respect by saying things such as "Yes, Ma'am" and "No Sir." These are phrases that aren't heard or expected much these days, so if you say them, it is likely to prompt your child to ask why. Then you can explain to them that it is a sign of respect and that you expect them to do as you do in showing respect to adults.
• Clarify yourself—you should always tell your child that they have to respect and mind anyone older than them, such as family members, neighbors, babysitters, etc.—but that this does not apply to kids that are older than them. If your child is 6, explain to them that when you say that they have to respect their elders, you do not mean the 10 year old kid on the school bus.
• Punishment—while it may not seem like a big deal for your child to speak disrespectfully to your adult neighbor, it is just one step on a path to complete disrespect of authority figures. This means that if your child says something to an adult that you wouldn't want them saying to you or does something to that adult that you wouldn't allow them to do to you (this includes talking back, ignoring, etc.), you should punish them as if they had done or said it to you. This way, they will think twice in the future before disrespecting adults again.
Since the punishment doesn't explain to your child the ideas and thoughts behind respecting all adults, it is important that you teach them this first. And, since no teaching is any good without a follow-through, you should enforce the punishment once your child has ignored what you taught them simply because they didn't feel like listening.
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