The Character Construction Site:


We first need to talk to our children and treat our children with respect.   If they do not reciprocate in kind, we need to insist that they show respect for us in return.  The respect we show them in the home will be the foundation of their self-respect, and the respect they show us and other family members in the home will be the basis of their respect for others outside the home. 

Definition of respect = respect for life, for property, for parents, for elders, for nature, and for the beliefs and rights of others.  Courtesy, politeness, and manners.  Self-respect and the avoidance of criticism.

Give respect and then expect to get respect.
Give specific praise for respect shown this month. 
Give a chance to do a start over when anyone is being respectful.  “Let’s do a start over”, and then redo it right.

Be very clear and concrete when you teach by example.  Talk about what you did and why, and make sure that the children know that you just demonstrated respect.  

Family Activities


The Definitions Game
This game can help you get respect into the vocabulary of elementary age children so that you can use the word.  Make sure the respect handout from your Wednesday packet gets posted somewhere public in your home each month and refer to that definition. Then read them about the way Sam acted and ask them to decide

  • If he was showing respect or not.
  • Who was shown disrespect?
  • How the disrespect made the other person feel? 

*Sam’s mom asked him to pick up his toys and he yelled, “NO!” and ran out of the room. (No.)
*He left the wrapper from his pop sickle outside on the ground. (No.)
*He said, “May I please have some more potatoes.”(Yes.)
*He borrowed his friend’s toy and left it out in the rain. (No.)
*When he was stuck on a puzzle, he said, “I’m just stupid.”(No.)
*When his mom introduced him to one of her co-workers, he looked them in the eye and said, “Nice to meet you.” (Yes.)

The “Who and How” Chart
This helps children plan to be respectful.

In one column list whom your children want to show respect for.  In the next column get them to list how they will show respect. 

Respect Chart
MomAnswering respectfullyDadShowing appreciation for what he doesSelfAvoiding self-criticismDog/CatNature

Election of Family Traditions of Courtesy and Family Nontraditions
This is a good way to help develop habits of respect.  Have a family nomination and vote to pick three family traditions of politeness.  Nominate until you have at least six things on the list.  Each member has three votes.  Make a “Family Traditions” chart showing the three winners and post it.  Use the same process for disrespectful behavior and have the children decide what the consequence should be for that behavior. 

Family Traditions
Look people in the eye when talking.  Say “Good morning!” when you see each other in the morning.

Family Non-Traditions
Yelling at a parent, go to your room for 5 minutes, calm down and apologize.

Story of Great Man’s Respect for His Wife
Try to give your children a memorable example of respect. 

A 90-year-old man was going to the wedding of their granddaughter.  He was so old and creaky that he required the assistance of two adults to help him get out of his car for the ceremony.  With a helper on each elbow, he insisted that he walk around the car and open the car door for his wife, who was also 90 years old, and offer her his hand when she got out of the car. 

Junior High

Discussion:  “Why respect, why manners?”
Get your older children thinking about the practicality and reasoning around the habits of politeness.  Play devil’s advocate.  Say, “Aren’t manners a little silly?”  After all, why should we look people in the eye, respond when spoken to, open doors for people or?

Why do formal, traditional things like this anyway?”  Challenge the kids to defend politeness.

Discuss the Application of Classroom Rules to Adulthood
Read aloud the following quote from Reverend Robert Fulgum, author of Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.  Do these rules still apply?  Would the world be a better place if all adults continued to practice and implement these simple lessons?

  • Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten…these are the things I learned:
    • Share everything.
    • Play fair.
    • Don’t hit people
    • Clean up your own mess.
    • Don’t  take things that aren’t yours.
    • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Insult List
Teach self respect by pointing out the damage done by talking negatively to and about yourself.  On a blank sheet of paper, ask the kids to list the words they may have called them selves such as “jerk”, “klutz”, “dummy,” and so on.  Then ask, “How would you feel if a friend or peer said those things to you?”  Point out that deep down, self-criticism is as harmful as the same words coming from someone else.  So, catch yourself at this habit and replace the criticism with, “ I can’t do ________, but I can do ________.”

Case Study
Tell this story and ask the kids,  “Why were the teenagers so unhappy?”

A family went to live in a foreign country for a year due to one of the parent’s job.  The two teenagers were very homesick.  They were critical and disrespectful of everything.  They hated the food, the different fashions, the weather, the apartment.  They criticized and complained to each other and anyone else who would listen.  Their parents kept telling them that this  was an enriching life opportunity, to quit being so ungrateful and to shut up if they couldn’t think of anything nice to say. 

Why were the two teenagers so unhappy?  (They weren’t giving respect - and respect leads to positive attitudes and feelings.  And they weren’t given respect-their parents belittled their feelings instead of trying to understand.)  How could the parents and teenagers have changed this situation for the better?

Game:  What Does It Lead To?

This game can help children see the ramifications of respect and of its opposite.  Do an arrow diagram on a piece of paper and let the children think of words that they lead to.  For example:

Respect-->kindness-->positive attitude-->

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