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Compliance & Respect

How your children talk to you
How your child is permitted to talk to you as the parent reveals much about the relationship between you.

Ideally, interaction between parent and child should be mutually and ultimately respectful but this mutuality does have some conditions. It is the parent who is the adult and who must therefore be the one modeling the respect and, when necessary, correcting and guiding the child's responses and efforts.

In a media-soaked world, children have other models which have a strong influence as well, and not all of them positive ones. It is important that your child knows, from an early age, where the boundaries exist as to how to speak to you and particularly about how to ask of you. It is the nature of the parent-child relationship for the child to be frequently asking of the adult. When the asking turns to demanding, it is important for the parent to guide the child back to a request that entertains acceptance of the option, "No".

Learning how to accept the disappointment of "No" is a very important life-skill, one that once internalized becomes part of the resilience that is so necessary a life skill. It is good to say "No" frequently, and sticking to it...it not only teaches resilience, it also teaches children about putting limitations on their demands.

Socially equipped to learn
Every parent hopes that their children will do well at school. Preparing them so that they are socially equipped to cope with their school setting is part of our parental responsibility. By the time they attend school, children should respect the authority of adults and act accordingly upon their requests.

Children who already respect adults are the ones who are likely to sit down and listen to their teacher. To listen to others without interrupting is an imperative quality for any school children of any age. Listening is a ‘give and take’ situation. You listen and then you can respond to what has been said.  It is a skill that is even more important in commercial life, so it is an important lesson to learn early.

A child who is constantly interrupting the teacher, by either talking out of turn or talking to another child, disrupts the entire class. The child should know that if they wish to speak to a teacher, they put up their hand and wait to be addressed instead of simply calling out.

Their listening education comes from reading to them, talking to them, encouraging and requiring them to listen to your answers and visa versa. When children listen to instructions, they need to give the speaker eye contact so that their attention is focused.

Manners are about smoothing the interactions between us. In an age where thrusting self-centeredness appears to be rewarded, manners still mark out those who are likely to succeed in groups from those who cannot do so. Since performance in a team is highly valued in both industry and society, it is important for children to learn manners from the earliest age.

Manners are not natural - they cut across the egocentric worldview of the child. Therefore, manners need to be deliberately taught, reinforced and modelled by the adults around a child.

In a school situation, it is immediately obvious where a child has been taught manners. Almost without exception, a child with good manners is a socially well-adjusted child to whom school and the classroom will be a welcoming, positive environment and where academic progress will be appropriate.

For a child without manners, school and the classroom is a continuous series of abrasive interactions which get in the way of learning and development. Children who have not been socialised by the conditioning inherent in learning appropriate manners find it very hard to share, to listen, to attend, to interact positively with others.

The ability to delay gratification which is part of "waiting one's turn" is a vital life skill the absence of which has negative consequences, often financial, throughout life. The temptation, as a parent, is to overlook our children's lack of manners as something that will correct itself. On the contrary, every opportunity not taken to teach our child manners at the point at which they display a lack, is an important opportunity missed to reinforce a positive social skill that will have enormous benefits.

Ok to say "No! I won't be there." and to feel no guilt
We obviously want all parents to feel very welcome to attend any of the significant daytime school events held during the year - Swimming Sports, Poetry-Reading Competitions, etc. - and many do.

At the same time as extending such an invitation, we are also conscious that many parents cannot attend despite a desire to do so due to business and professional commitments. Between the school's invitation and your child's desire that you attend, a parent can come in for a fairly heafty feeling of guilt which is quite undeserved.

We want to reassure such parents that the school does not make a judgement about the parent(s) of family by their inability to attend such events and we counsel you to be very clear with your children about why you cannot attend. A message that he/she cannot always be the highest priority in a parent's waking hours is a healthy life skills message for a child to assimiliate; it brings to their consciousness the realisation that other people are also important.

As parents we occasionally forget the impact of feedback, and its lasting effect, until we are inevitably reminded by our offspring. “I’m very disappointed in you!” was surprising for me to hear from my daughter as she scolded her doll. I’m not certain what sin the doll had committed but I know that it must have been grave.

Isn’t it wonderful that our children can remind us of our humanity and that we can laugh at ourselves? Whether or not we intend to, we constantly provide children with feedback.

Recent research conducted by Professor John Hattie from Auckland University indicates that a culture of quality feedback is one of the most powerful influencing factors in student achievement. I believe this applies to the classroom and the home.

Therefore it is important that we make the most of our feedback, as teachers and as parents. Being specific is central to giving effective feedback. “Good girl!” or “Good boy!” says little compared to “It’s fantastic that you completed all of your homework without being reminded!” “I’m so pleased that you listened to your hockey coach and passed the ball sooner.” “Thank you for doing the dishes. When everyone in the family helps out we can all have more time together.”

Only having caught part of the conversation I am unsure whether or not my daughter was specific in her feedback to the doll. However, since then, I have reflected on my feedback to her.

Listening to how we speak to children and how we give specific feedback provides us with the opportunity to ensure that our feedback is meaningful. The goal is to offer specific, meaningful feedback so that our children develop the positive values and behaviours that are most important to our families.