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What is the true meaning of respect?

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Respect is knowing the true value of things and treating them with appreciation, understanding and even a sense of reverence. It is a concept that is not widely understood in our Western culture.

Respect is often confused with compliance and obedience. "You will do as I say if you are to be respectful to me!". The best way we can teach children how to be respectful without them falling prey to those who might seek to control them is to teach children to respect themselves first!

When we value, appreciate, understand and have a sense of reverence personally, not only will we not allow ourselves to be trespassed against, but we naturally extend the feeling of respect to others. This comes from the acceptance and empathy that respect requires of us. We give ourselves and others the space to have thoughts, feelings and opinions without judgment along with the space to make mistakes.

When we have respect for ourselves, knowing our inherent worthiness, we have an expectation that others will respect us in return. These expectations are not always met, but our self-respect affords us compassion. We know that those who don't respect themselves and know their own worthiness won't have the self-respect to extend to us in return.

Yet, because our sense of self-respect is not given to us by another, by that same token, it cannot be taken away by another. It is not a fragile construct bestowed upon us by outside forces. It is a deep inner well that we can tap into regardless of the attitudes of those who surround us. It is this unshakable sense of value that we would like our children to comprehend, about ourselves, other people and about our wider world.

Cultures, ethnicities, religion, and other ways of living and understanding the world are to be valued. Material belongings, no matter who owns them are to be valued and cared for.

Nature and creatures of all kinds are to be held in the highest regard. Our appreciation of their meaning and value directing us to act in ways that ensure the flourishing of the world around us.

Really, respect is like all appreciation education. We are not really teaching respect. We are teaching children to love themselves and the world around them so that respect is a natural outcome that flows from within.

Need a tool to help teach these concepts? See our new release big book here.

Our latest book deep dives on the subject, discovering respect for thoughts, feelings, bodies, differences, age and much more.

We explore what respect feels like, what it means to respect yourself and how respect for yourself naturally translates into respect for others. Want real engagement and understanding of empathy with your learners?

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