As the director of a center, I get to do a lot of watching. The last few weeks I’ve seen some things that disturb me. So many adults treat children disrespectfully. And I wonder why that is.
Children have a sense that we seem to lose as adults. They can feel emotions in the room. If someone doesn’t like them, they know it. If the child already has emotional issues, they are going to act out. And when you treat them without respect, you will get back the same.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who used a condescending tone of voice or whose body language said, “I don’t like you” even though the words said something different? How did that make you feel? The difference between you and a child is that you have (hopefully) matured enough to keep your own emotions in check and can respond appropriately as an adult. Children do not have that maturity. Children respond in a far more emotional manner. They are telling us they need our approval and respect.
I’ve witnessed this disrespectful behavior from parents and teachers. As the adults in children’s lives, it is so important for us to realize when we are frustrated and use our own emotional maturity to keep that frustration at bay. If they are pushing you to that point, stop. Maybe you both just need to hug. Give the child words – “I see you’re really frustrated. So am I. Can I hug you?”
Yes, some children are difficult to like. That’s simply reality. But if you have chosen to work in a field that supports young children, you need to work through your own past issues and come to the table open to every child’s needs, ready to support them. You need to remember that every single child deserves your respect and expects you to model the behaviors they are still learning.
So next time you walk into a room full of children, be happy, relaxed and full of love. Address each child with joy and respect and show them how to be kind. Be what you want them to be.
These are some books that might be of interest in the area of respect.