Teaching respect for others, no matter who they are or what they do, is a challenge for character education teachers as well as parents.
Respect others, people say, but what others?
Most people say you should respect your elders. Most people say you should respect your parents and teachers. Some just say “respect others”, but should you respect others no matter who or what?
Think about what it means to respect others. What does respect mean? We define the character trait this way:
Respect is a trait that causes us to understand that everyone has value. Then respect makes us take action to treat everyone in the way that is best for them, even when it means we must sacrifice personally.
Think about it.
1. Respect makes you understand that no matter who, everyone has value. You cannot name a person who has no value as a living human. When you build respect into your life, you will understand that.
You will understand that there is value in others who are …
- like you
- not likable
- richer or poorer
- older or younger
- a different religion
- a different color
- a different language
Respect others by understanding that they have value simply as people.
2. Respect makes you treat everyone, no matter whom, in the way that is best for them. Best, not just a little bit good. You treat your parents in the way that is best for your parents. You treat your teachers in the way that is best for your teachers. You treat other children in the way that is best for those children.
Respect others by considering them better than yourself.
3. Respect does not make you do everything, no matter what. There are times when people ask something that is not best for them. A stranger may ask you to go with him, but that is not best for the stranger. It will get him in trouble. You do not go. A bully may demand your lunch money, but that is not best for the bully. It is wrong. You do not give your money.
Respect others by being wise – doing only what is best for them.
Once you know what respect is, you are ready to put your respect into action. Here are seven ways to respect others.
- Speak politely, with clean language.
- Never interrupt.
- Be kind to everyone.
- Take care of others’ belongings.
- Pay attention when parents and teachers speak.
- Obey parents and teachers.
- Use good manners.
You can respect others, no matter who they are and no matter how they are different from you. Just think of how you want others to treat you, and treat them that way.