Children are born with self-respect, which is displayed in their need to get what they think they need. They cry to tell adults that they are hurting and need something: an adult’s attention, a hug, nurturing, or nourishment.
This self-respect is the basis of respect for others. As adults care for and nurture young children, they learn to care about and respect others. The only way to ensure children’s respect is to treat them with respect, which means giving them the emotional support and the empathy they deserve—being their Baby Buffer. Respect can also be found in the words adults use when talking with their children—words such as please, thank you, I’m sorry, you’re welcome, I love you, I’ll help, I forgive you, I apologize, and I’m proud of you…as well as telling the truth, doing what you say you will do, and being responsible for your actions.
Young children may assume that the behaviors of negative role models – including other children – are typical, safe and acceptable. If you find your child repeating behaviors or words he learned at preschool or daycare that you don’t like, try this to teach your child what you DO want him to do:
- Give an example of more positive and healthy ways to handle a situation. For example, if your child begins to hit another child, teach him that when he gets frustrated, he needs to walk away from the situation or get an adult to help him solve a problem with another child.
If you have concerns that your toddler is being negatively influenced by his teachers, babysitter, etc.:
- Think about others who can provide teaching and supervision for your child who more closely reflect your values. Change your child’s teachers if you believe that they are not positive influences or are not teaching your child the same character lessons that are important to you.
- A qualified mental health professional can help if you are troubled by recent changes in your child’s behavior or attitude due to his following the behavior or language of a teacher, daycare provider, etc.