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Teaching Respect And Values In Today's Society

The girl's jaw dropped in horror as the police officer spoke
these words:

"Don't go there. Have you any idea how many kids have been
stabbed in the past year? They'll kill you as soon as look
at you. They have no respect for life."

The mother breathed a sigh of relief. She had come in to
school to seek my help, as I was her daughter's Guidance
Counsellor. We needed to convince the girl that the places
she was frequenting were putting her very life in danger.

Fortunately a police officer was in school that day to speak
to a Social Education class 'and I got him to sit in on the

So where was the young girl going that put her life in such
peril? What underground haunts were enticing her?

None other than an area of the city where two school friends
lived. But as you may guess, it was an area rife with drug
abuse and its attendant crimes. Many people there had lost
respect both for themselves and for life in general.

So how do we teach respect and values in a society that's
rapidly becoming valueless?

Believe it or not, it's relatively easy!

All we have to do is go back to basics. Remember what
Grandma used to say? '"Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you".

This might sound a bit 'corny' or 'naff' in today's world,
but if ever a saying deserved to be revitalised and repeated
again and again, this is it!

Today our kids need to learn RESPECT for themselves; for
other people; for other people's rights, customs and valid
beliefs; for property; for materials; and for the earth

The more people who do this, the more we will have a
counter-balance to the uncaring and disrespectful trends we
see all around.

Yes, that's all very well, but HOW do we do it?

In two ways 'and as I said, it's easy!

First and foremost MODEL the values and respect you wish
your children to develop.

That's it. SHOW them by your own lifestyle. You don't even
need to articulate these values 'but as we'll see later,
discussing them and commenting on them can make an even
bigger impact.

Many successful parents are neither educated nor articulate,
and they say very little. They let their actions speak
louder than words.

There's nothing new in this. To use an old-fashioned phrase,
these parents give a good example. (Some of today's
psychologists think they've come up with a new approach when
they talk about 'modelling appropriate behaviour patterns'.
Yes.. !)

To be fair, many parents I talk to are unaware of the
potential they have to influence their kids. It comes as a
surprise to many to learn that THEY are the most
influential teachers their kids will ever have.

Our children are like sponges. They soak up our attitudes,
our habits, our speech patterns 'our way of seeing the

So if YOU show respect for yourself, for others, for
property and for the earth, you won't go wrong.

But you can enhance or reinforce this process by instructing
your kids.

Without lecturing or 'sermonising' we can give guidelines
for everyday activities. For example:

* leave the bathroom as you'd like to find it

* use resources like water carefully

* consider others by playing music softly or by using

* give a helping hand in the classroom, in the playground,
at home

* treat others with kindness, gentleness, care and

* look after yourself in the same way.

When bad or undesirable behaviour is modelled on TV or
elsewhere, comment on it and discuss why we wouldn't do

In a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society, let's help our
kids to tolerate, appreciate and even celebrate differences.
Help them realise we all have different customs and habits,
and there are pros as well as cons in these differences.

Help your child to be assertive. There's no need to be
aggressive or offensive when defending our values. We should
assert them proudly and courageously, and we should avoid a
passive denial when others are mocking.

Lastly, there's self-control. If you give a good example -
sorry, if you 'model appropriate behaviour'! 'AND teach
your kids why it is important, then you and your family can
face the future with confidence.

Happy parenting!

About the Author

Frank McGinty's writes motivational books for both parents and teenagers. If you want to develop your parenting skills and encourage your kids to be all they can be, visit his web pages,


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