Respect… Give it to get it?

Respect…give it to get it?

I recently spent the morning at the newly redeveloped playground in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. It was a fresh, sunny spring day and hoards of children on school holidays were navigating the terrain.

I was amazed at the flurry of activity as these children busily attended to the business of play. I watched as they negotiated turns, demanded freedom from patrolling parents and explored the bounds of adventure as they discovered the politics of playgrounds.

I watched with interest the reactions of the children to the child who refused to share, the child who cried when he didn’t get his own way and the child who ran around screaming and yelling at all who stood between her and the slide in order to get to the bottom of it’s slippery slope first. I then carefully observed the small child who stopped to help the smaller child who fell and therefore forfeited her turn on said slide. And the one who ran around collecting friends as if they were wildflowers growing freely on the roadside. Most of all I observed the respect with which some spoke to their caregivers in contrast to the demands of others.

Studying that playground for half an hour as the children with me played was liking watching a snapshot of the world. I saw the politicians, the peacemakers, the innovators, the explorers, the scientists, the artists and sadly, the criminals of the future.

I left resolved to the core values I want my children to uphold and the most important of these is respect. Respect for others, respect for themselves and respect for the world we live in.

I had a chat with the preschoolers with me in the car on the way home. We were talking about school and holidays when one of them asked me, “Why is the principal called Mr Smith but my teacher is just Jenny?” Before I could answer a confident little four year old boy answered, “Oh that’s because the principal is the boss and the teacher is just the same as us.” It made me think… Should my kids be calling adults by their first name if it makes them believe they are peers? Equals?

How should children address adults? Teachers?

Does the way they address them make a difference to the respect they show them?

What do you think?

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