The Benefits of Elder Respect


In today’s world, respect of one’s elders is an important life skill that seems to be falling by the wayside. We see this in the way children talk to their parents and in the way they interact with their teachers. Unfortunately, several negative problems occur when the generational boundaries between child and elder are missing due to lack of respect. Arguments, defiance and family chaos become regular visitors in a child’s life.

Why teach respect?

 Though respect is one of the “life skills” that a child needs to learn, it isn’t “instinctual,” says Ann Kramer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and author of Life Puzzle for Teens. By learning respect, children move from a stance of “I am the center of the world” to “I am one person amongst many.” When children transition from this “me only” attitude, they learn to respect the rights and values of others. “We end up creating a world of healthy children who can become adults who appreciate others on this planet – creating a community of people who have respect for others,” states Kramer.

Respect encourages personal growth

 Michelle Dunn, Psychoanalyst and New York Daily News “Tweentalk” Columnist, believes youngsters who learn elder-respect accrue many benefits. Respecting one’s elders takes work and practice. Giving respect to others requires self-control. Self-control grows personal tools of mastery. These tools of mastery can be transferred to more difficult tasks requiring self-control and putting one’s own agenda on hold. Each phase in the process of elder-respect is an achievement. 

 “Remember, when a child gives respect, he creates self-respect and commands respect for himself,” says Dunn. “Youngsters who learn elder-respect achieve self-worth, hence, building self-confidence and self-esteem.”      

Additional benefits

 Additionally, school principal Tim O’Brien states parents benefit because they’ll have well-balanced kids, who are less selfish, demanding and rude (common traits in kids today). 

Well-balanced kids are easier to raise and are less likely to upset the family dynamics, allowing for a happier home life. 

 “I’ve interviewed people in their twenties that don’t have a clue on etiquette and it hurts them in their careers,” says O’Brien. “It all starts with teaching respect.”

Teaching respect

 Respect for elders is taught through daily experiences, such as making a child apologize if he insults or yells at an elder and encouraging alone time for children and elder adults, advises Ann Kramer. This way the child sees the elder as someone who has value and must be paid attention to, not taken for granted. 

One final word

Teaching respect starts at home. Manners and respect are the place-holders for the deepest values of our society, believes Dunn.   

  “If you want your children to be respectful, then be consistently respectful in how you treat others,” says Child Psychologist Dr. Nicole L. Caldwell. “Teach the values you want to pass on to your child by living them every day and your children will learn from your example.”  

Mj Callaway
About MJ Mj Callaway

Mj Callaway is a single mom of two. She is author of multiple books including The Frantic Woman's Guide to Life.

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