Respect is the Key to Your Child’s Success

“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.”

– U. Thant

Last week in the newsletter the word Respect was mentioned in the framework of meditation. Respect is such an important concept that we decided to write more on this subject. Parents are the most important role model in their children’s lives, and it is crucial that they set the example of being respectful to themselves, to their children and to all others. Children are like mirrors because they reflect back to us much of what we say and do. 95% of everything learned by children is through what is modelled to them, with only 5% learned by way of direct instruction. What we communicate is what we teach and our language is the language that they will speak.

Respect can permeate across all domains including: respect for ourselves, respect for our loved ones, respect for our neighbours, our co-workers, and all those who think differently than we do. This, of course, is not easily accomplished. How can we treat this idea with mindfulness so that we don’t stray from the importance of allowing others their feelings about things in the same ways that we want to be respected for our personal ideas?

According to the dictionary respect means “Willingness to show deferential consideration, appreciation, and hold high regard for another’s opinion, wishes, and judgement.” How can you hold high regard for someone if you don’t trust their values and the way they live their lives.

To treat a person with respect is to acknowledge and preserve their human dignity. Are you maintaining the values that you hold as most important? Are you patient with yourself when you make errors? Are you prepared to admit you have made a mistake when you are impatient and say things that upset others? Can you tell your child openly that your goal and the goal you want for him/her is to be the best person that you can be at all times. Although most of us are capable of handling the problems that arise in our daily lives, there is always a day when everything feels out of control. The best thing you can do is to take a little time to reevaluate. Remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for. Remind your children of what they must remember to be grateful for.

One of the most important ways to treat yourself and others respectfully is to take time to answer difficult questions. When your children ask you about horrible things that happen on the news, or why people behave in a manner that goes against what you generally teach them, how can you answer them in a respectful way? No matter how strongly you feel about something, it’s important to respond with an open mind. You could answer the question with something like, I wonder what could have been in that person’s mind that he did something like that. In other words you leave open the possibility for discussion of how people make the decisions they make. In this way you are respectful of yourself and the way you think, but you also suggest to your children that there is always more than one way of looking at something.

Another problem with children is when they ask you if they can do something that you know you don’t want them to do. Take a deep breath and say to your child, “Let me think about that? I’m a little tired or rushed at the moment and I want to think about if there is a way we can work that out for you.” Even if in your heart you know you are going to reject the request, maybe there’s a way of problem solving to think of alternative ways to collaborate in making a healthy option to their request. Maybe your child will benefit from more time to think about the request, and he/she will see that it is perhaps a little unreasonable. By allowing some time for thought and consideration, you show your child that you are respectful of his ideas and feelings.

Although this is very old poem, we recommend that you take the time to read Rudyard Kipling’s If with your child. It is written in simple language and most children can relate to the ideas. Also, the rhythm of it and the rhyming lines make it easy to remember.

If…

IF you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream and not make dreams your master;

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build them up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings nor lose the common touch,

if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And which is more you’ll be a Man, my son!

You can listen to this poem read by a young adult on the video below:

If you print this poem out and leave it where everyone can see it in your house, then you can easily refer to a portion of the poem to make a point. Children are often hurt by their friends or feel bad when they lose at something. This is a good poem to help them remember how to stay on course. The qualities written about in this poem: patience, humility, honesty and level-headedness are traits that are important to teach our children.

At this time in history, it seems that one of the most difficult things is to respect peoples of other ethnicities and religions. How do you teach your children to be respectful of others who are not like them? Sometimes when we watch historical movies, we can see that throughout history men have always been cruel to each other, disrespectful of each other because of race or creed or class.

Another poem about respect comes to us from Rene Philombe, a political and cultural activist from Cameroon who died in 2001. The poem is originally in French and its title is L’Homme qui te ressemble, which means The Man Who is Like You. In this poem he calls all men his brothers and asks not to be asked his nationality or his skin colour because he is a man like all men. He asks not to be asked about his physical traits or most importantly the names of his gods. Students who learn this poem in French are often seized for a moment by this line. What does he mean by don’t ask me the names of my gods. As a teacher, my perception of it is that that we all have different beliefs, but underneath we all need the same things. We resemble each other because we all want to be warm, well-fed and loved. What we believe outside of our physical being is all in an effort to make sense of the world. So believe what ever comforts you, and allow everyone else to believe what comforts them. This is not an easy task for youth who are brought up believing in one religion. It doesn’t mean you should change the way you feel or ask your children to change what they’ve been taught, but it does ask you to be respectful of others and know that they have been taught different things.

The best way to teach respect to our children is to show respect. When our children experience respect, they know what it feels like and begin to understand how life changing it can be. Respect is a way of living. Being respectful helps a child to be more successful in school and paves the way for more success in adulthood at work and in marriage.

To summarize and consider ways to remind yourself to be respectful to your child.

Consider these 7 tips:

  1. Take time to listen to your child. Listen attentively and thoughtfully. Think carefully about what your child wants and needs before you answer.
  2. Remember that you will gain the respect of your child by being honest. Always answer your child as honestly as you can. If this means you have to wait before you answer, take your time.
  3. Be prepared to apologise if you speak harshly or too quickly because you are busy or tired. It’s important for your child to see you as someone who is truly interested in respect.
  4. Admire aloud the ideas and concepts that you value so your child will not be surprised when he/she hears you support your decisions with these remarks.
  5. Love your child by being respectful, honest and fair.
  6. Hold them accountable for their behaviour.
  7. You may not be able to control or make your child (especially if an adolescent) show respect in their attitude, but never compromise in expecting them to return the respect that you show to them through their behaviours.

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children, to earn the approbation of honest critics; to appreciate beauty; to give of one’s self, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived–that is to have succeeded.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Image: Ask Dr Adams

Ask Dr Adams

Question: I would like to enquire about the opinion you may have on the effect of medication (e.g. Ritalin, Concerta Xl, Strattera ect) for a child preparing to sit their GCSE’s who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD and is of an above average ability. In this situation would medication significantly improve the child’s potential to succeed?

Many thanks,

Christopher Slade, Folkestone, Kent

Dear Christopher,

In my experience, most of my adolescent clients with Asperger Syndrome and co-existing ADHD who are taking their GCSEs tend to do better when they are properly taking their medications. Stimulant medications boost concentration and focus while reducing hyperactive and impulsive behaviours. The main issue is that the meds should have been properly titrated and have no side effects, and this needs to be overseen by a medical doctor such as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist or Paediatrician. The type of medication whether it be a sustained release formula such as Concerta XL or a non-stimulant medication such as Atomoxetine will be decided on together by the doctor and the family. All of this needs to be done way in advance of exams, because for one thing, an individual will be better able to study for them when taking the appropriate medication.

Medications are also not the be-all and end-all. It works best when combined with other types of interventions such as regular exercise, healthy eating, relaxation techniques, good sleeping habits; in addition to understanding and helpful teachers who know about how ADHD effects teens, who offer classroom environmental modifications, assist with study skills, and give extra time on examinations if need be.


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