Attitudes are important to God. He expects us to be “cheerful givers” and to “obey your parents.” The second part of that requirement, “obey your parents” can be tougher than you think. Parental defiance is a natural part of our human makeup but that level of defiance rises when parents disrespect themselves by participating in random sex, drug use and a general disregard for other people. In these cases, children have no reason to respect their mother or father, yet God expects it. A child will love even the worst parent but respect is earned. As teachers, how do we teach kids to have the right attitude, like young David did towards a rejected Saul?
Set An Example
Teaching kids to respect others begins by setting a good example to follow. Perhaps it’s my southern heritage but I was raised to say, “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir.” These special phrases demonstrated respect, even if my behavior at that moment was less than respectful. Begin by using these phrases yourself when dealing with older people or with people in authority. Make showing respect a part of your spiritual makeup, burn it into your DNA so you can teach it easily, naturally to your children. (Like so many lessons I teach my kids, they always start with me.)
Teach About Respect
Begin providing lessons to your students that talk about the need for respecting others. Besides the example of David and Saul, offer regular lessons from Proverbs, which extensively teaches from a parent to child viewpoint. I like to use lessons based on Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 5 and Matthew 15 too.
Show Respect to Them
Showing children respect helps them understand how important respect is. Nobody likes to be disrespected or ignored. Teach your kids how to respect others by being polite to them, listening to them, treating them as if they are important and worthy of your time. Also, when you have the opportunity to talk with parents, show them respect too as if they were the greatest of parents. Remember, your commission isn’t just to reach out to kids but their families too. (Perhaps offering respect when it’s not earned while inspire a parent to become better.)
Offer Correction When Needed
Lastly, teaching kids this valuable lesson involves correction. The bible says that God corrects those He loves. As a teacher, it’s not your job to spank or punish a disrespectful attitude but when it occurs during your class time you should address it. Don’t allow kids to disrespect one another by talking over each other or pushing their way to the front of the line or ignoring the rules. Post the rules and remind kids every time you meet that the rules poster helps everyone have a happy classroom experience. Rules are good because they remind us that respecting others pleases God.