Respect is the very core “ingredient” that was ingrained into me. It is part of my culture! There is a statement my grandmother used to say to us, especially the girls: “IF YOU WANT TO BE RESPECTED, YOU MUST FIRST RESPECT YOURSELF”! It is a simple concept: however, to practice its true meaning, it takes time, energy and determination, as well as a lot of enforcement and encouragement.
Respect is one of the core “ingredients” that I “drummed” into my children since they were very young. Whether it is respect for things or people, I strongly believe respect has to be thought of and enforced every day until it becomes second nature. It is not easy, but in order to bring up successful and respectful children, I believe this is a must.
In this article, I would like to share my experiences on how to encourage children to be respectful of property, i.e. books.
Book stores and libraries are a “magical heaven” for book lovers. In the bookstores for example, you have all the new books stacked nicely throughout the store. At times when visiting book stores, I have seen children who are pretty rough with the books; by the time they have finished with them, the books would be definitely non salable. The pages are wrinkled, the cover bent…The look on the shopkeeper’s face says the book is a complete write off!
Many parents turn a blind eye to this. Why? Is it because they feel that the kids have the right to do this, as they are the customer? Or is it because the book is not theirs, so it does not matter? Or it is too hard to discipline their children in public, for fear to making a scene?
If we do not interfere there and then, what sort of message are we sending? We are literally telling our children it is OK to do this – which, you and I know, is NOT OK!
My children loved books, as we spent many hours in the libraries (yes, we visited various libraries in the surrounding suburbs). When they were toddlers, we attended the story reading time. We had a great time. But before we went in, I would go through a few simple rules with them ….
- The library rule – a place where we must try to speak softly and not run about.
- When the librarian was reading the story, we must be respectful, to sit quietly and listen to the story.
- If they needed to ask a question, wait until the librarian had finished with the story, and then put up your hand to ask.
- When we had finished the story reading session, always say “Thank You” to the librarian, and be appreciative of his or her time and the wonderful story they shared.
After the story time, my children would normally spend the next half an hour or so searching for the books they would like to borrow.
Why am I telling you this story? I am sharing with you ways you can help your kids to appreciate their books and treat them with respect.
I wanted my children to appreciate and respect books. They were taught from a young age to RESPECT all property, whether the things belonged to them or not. We went through ways on how to care for books, how to turn the pages without scrunching the pages. It did not happen overnight. It came gradually, continually pointing out things and encouraging them to remember to be gentle with books, and eventually they established the good habits. I would have no hesitation of giving them a brand new book, as I knew they would be able to care for it. They even knew how to place the books in the school bag so that the books sat well and would not get dented.
I remember taking my two children, then aged 5 and 7, to a local garage sale. Immediately they saw piles and piles of second hand books and went straight for them. After we bought a few books (as we always do) and puzzles etc. she told us that she was very surprised and impressed with the behaviour of my children. She commented they were so gentle with the books. She mentioned that they had quite a few families go through earlier and she was really horrified with the kids’ attitude. These kids totally disrespected the things on display and trashed the books as they went along. I thanked the lady for her kind comment and explained to her that my kids were “trained” to respect books. We ended up talking and sharing a few tips and ideas, as she had two young children as well.
It is important for parents to teach or introduce the concept of “Respect” to your children at a young age. This is how it goes….My mantra – “If you do not want your things to be treated this way, make sure you do not treat other people’s thing this way as well”.
- Apply this rule, it always works: “If you do not want your things to be treated this way, make sure you do not treat other people’s thing this way as well”. Kids are very protective of their things. So this concept is easy to grasp!
- Work with them. Show them how to treat books, gently opening page by page, getting them to try their best to not “bend” the page or the cover. You will need patience with this exercise, as it takes quite a few times before they can understand the concept.
- Remind them on the spot. Use the term “be gentle”. It will trigger their memory and they will switch their memory back to “how they should treat books”.
- Give them good praise when they successfully apply the concept!
Children like rewards. After our happy and successful trip to the library, I made a big deal out of their wonderful behavior and how proud I was of them. So as a TREAT, we would go to LUNCH! Our best lunch was to either get a pizza (not often) of their choice or we would pack our picnic basket and head to the playground. They could run wild and play as they liked, as they deserved the reward for complying with my library rules!
Learning respect can be full of fun activities.