TEACHING KIDS TO RESPECT AUTHORITY (PART ONE)
What happens when kids grow up disrespecting authority figures? We see the prison system all over the country is over crowded with young children who grew up not knowing what it meant to obey authority. The grave yards are quickly becoming a place where young children are been sent because people have become so fed up with children robbing, beating, threaten and even murdering their parents and other adults that the public is fighting back and shooting and killing these children when their own lives are threaten. Here in my city of Detroit, just two weeks ago a sixteen year old boy attempted a carjack, the man he attempted to carjack was armed and after ordering the kid to get out of his car and the kid refused, the man shot and killed the young boy. This is a tragedy and failure on the parent’s part to teach their son that they must respect authority and not be out robbing, stealing and killing other people. Prosecutors around the country are putting kids on trial from the age of 10 and up as adults.
Respect for authority begins in the home, if your children are not taught to show respect for their parents are other adults in their home and community, they will most certainly not show respect for the government, such as police, teachers, the courts, all other authority figures and the church. Respect for authority comes through the realization that it is set up to help us and not to control us. It must begin when the children are young and can understand that they are loved and what is being taught to them is that we love them and how to love others by the love and respect that they are shown.
This does not mean that children obey all adults; they only have to obey those to whom their parents have delegated that authority, such as teachers, coaches, etc. However, there should be a deference given to adults by children because of their age and experience.
Respecting authority is something our children should do without any hesitations; however, before they can do this, they have to be taught the meaning of respect and how and why it has to be a key ingredient in all of our lives. All authority is from God (Romans 13:1). Learning to respect an authority, no matter who the particular authority figure is, is respecting God, and is foundational for our children’s future.
As a young person growing up in my community, we all were taught to refer to all adults by saying “Mr. and Mrs., yes Sir and yes Maim,” this was a sign of respect, and immediately set the adult apart from the child’s friends. Not understanding the principle involved, many adults will say, “Call me (their first name).” A parent can then explain that using “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and the last name is being done for the child’s sake, to help him to learn to show respect for adults.
Since a baby has no concept of respect, and feels only its own needs when it is first born, I believe that the only successful way to teach a child what respect is is to earn the respect of the child as they slowly grow into a thinking human being.
The way this is done is first of all by attending to the child’s natural needs, such as to be fed and nurtured. As the child grows, his needs change. He has increasingly sophisticated psychological needs. He begins to express his own views, his own preferences, and he has an increasing need for freedom, autonomy and independence. This is when the adults in his life can treat him with increasing respect and thereby earn his respect in return.
Let us understand a very important thing as to respect, and that is age affects children’s respect. Both Children and adults deserve respect at every age. Here is a guideline based on age:
Babies – They are too young to show respect but when you meet their needs, they learn to trust you. This helps as they get older because respect for authority is based on trust.
Toddlers – They are old enough to learn to say “please” and “thank you”.
Preschoolers – This is a good time to teach rules and consequences.
Elementary age – They show the most respect for adults who make fair rules. It helps to let them have a say in the rules that they are expected to follow.
Middle and High Schoolers – Allow them to show independence, such as clothing or hairstyles, but make sure you have guidelines. They will appreciate the respect you are showing them. We respect you and the incredible job that you have, being a parent.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to equip our children to function well in the world, and if we neglect that responsibility our children could easily wind up in prison are the graves. No parent wants this for their child, therefore it is important that we address the needs of our children when they are born and stay with it no matter how difficult the task may become into their adult lives.
One of the most important things you can teach your child is respect. Keep in mind that respect is not the same as obedience. Children might obey because they are afraid. If they respect you, they will obey because they know you want what’s best for them, and the best way to teach respect is to show respect. When a child experiences respect, they know what it feels like and begin to understand how important it is. Keep in mind the saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Respect is an attitude. Being respectful helps a child succeed in life. If children don’t have respect for peers, authority, or themselves, it’s almost impossible for them to succeed. A respectful child takes care of belongings and responsibilities, and a respectful child gets along with peers. Schools teach children about respect, but parents have the most influence on how respectful children become. Until children show respect at home, it’s unlikely they will show it anywhere else. Although you may not realize it, your child must also respect herself or himself.
This concludes part one of a two part message. Please read and study this as the first session of many to come on this message. I remain your brother in Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher.