The children I take part in facilitating every day lack many important social skills. One of the issues we struggle the most with in the behavioral focus classroom setting is respect.
This particular post may seem cliche- and if, to you, it does appear as if I’m stating the obvious, then that is a good indication you live in a respectful environment. However, it is important to become conscious of the fact that many people, many of those rude and disrespectful people we dread crossing paths with, come from a place of no respect whatsoever.
Have you ever heard the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”? What do you think this means? This saying points out an important
characteristic of respect. What you consider useful and important may not be the same to others. Because we are a society of diverse people, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, our upbringing and experiences differ. Our likes and dislikes vary depending on what we consider valuable.
Understanding the concept of respect takes into consideration that although something may not be valuable to you, it may be valuable to someone else, and therefore, we should show respect towards that thing.
People value different things for many different reasons. When you regard something as valuable, you take into consideration its worth as measured in usefulness or importance.
For example, although you may not be old enough to drive, you can understand the value of having a car. A car is very useful and convenient. Other things are valuable because they are beautiful. This is called aesthetic value.
For instance, you can value your rock collection of quartz and crystal because they are beautiful, or you may value a painting because of its beauty.
The important thing to remember is that some values are based upon personal preference. Although values are different, respect must remain constant. Just as you would want others to treat your belongings with respect, you must also treat their belongings with respect.
Recognizing your value as an individual should never be confused with being conceited.
Appreciating your value simply means to acknowledge your talents and potential and to make every effort to live up to your potential. You can do so confidently knowing that your values reflect true positive character.
Recognizing your value leads to self-respect. People who have self- respect are more likely to avoid risk-taking behavior. They strive to develop a positive character and do not succumb to negative pressure and influences.
You can show appreciation for all people by understanding that there is a fundamental value to life. Keep in mind that appreciation is a part of respect. It helps you to care for others and to treat them the way you would like to be treated.
Here is an example of how someone can demonstrate fundamental respect for all life.
– Charles passed the homeless man on the corner every day as he walked to school. Sometimes the man asked for money, but Charles would not speak to him. At school, there is a special program about the homeless. Charles remembered the homeless man and mentioned him to the counselor from the Homeless Shelter. The counselor thanked him for his concern and said he would send someone to help the man.
Here is an example of not demonstrating fundamental respect for all life.
– Bill passed the homeless man on the corner every day as he walked to school. Sometimes when the man asked for money, Bill would make fun of him, and mock him. Sometimes Bill and his friends played tricks on the man and threw garbage and rocks at him when he was sleeping.
From these two scenarios, it is clear to see that basic respect must be shown to all people, regardless of their circumstances. No one deserves to be ridiculed or treated cruelly.
In the first scenario, Charles was not verbally or physically abusive, and he showed compassion by telling the counselor about the homeless man. Because of Charles’s thoughtfulness and consideration, maybe the homeless man was able to get the help he needed to improve his life.
In the second scenario, Bill was both verbally and physically abusive. He showed no compassion. He and his friends were disrespectful and cruel.
Although these are only scenarios, this type of disrespect often occurs in real life.
If respect leads to positive interactions, what do you think disrespect will lead to? Disrespect is the foundation of all negative and abusive interactions and relationships. In our society, disrespect is seen in many different forms, but one thing is certain, it can result in hurt feelings, resentment, verbal and physical aggression, violence, war, and even death.
Examples of disrespect are so common in our society that they are often considered to be a normal part of life. The fact is, it is not normal to interact with others in disrespectful ways. Disrespect should never be accepted as just a part of life.
The following is a list of some of the common forms of disrespect that are widespread within our society.
Verbal disrespect includes not saying “please,” “thank you,” or “excuse me”; cursing; name-calling; teasing; bullying; threatening to hurt someone; and sarcasm.
Physical disrespect includes assault with a weapon, hitting, pushing or kicking as well as touching someone’s body inappropriately.
Self disrespect includes not taking care of yourself by not keeping yourself clean, abusing alcohol, experimenting with drugs, engaging in multiple sexual partners at once, and even dressing and acting inappropriately.
Disrespect for the environment includes littering, polluting and harming animals and plants.
Disrespect for property includes stealing, and defacing property as in the case of graffiti.
I had an experience over this past weekend at a gas station in a town of which I’m unfamiliar. The group of people in this convenient store clearly all knew each other and this was their “meeting spot.” I was disrespected and sexualized by these people. After a long time of fuming and some private disrespectful mumbling about them, I came to the conclusion that, sadly, I candidly felt as if they simply
did not know any better.
We share this earth with a great deal of people. It’s our jobs to teach respect and be respect. Many humans miss the boat on this important task. What we need to do is remember the old math formula; a positive plus a negative equals a positive.
Jessica L. Arrant
STAR Program/ BAC