I was tempted when I was thinking about this theme to carry on from where I left off yesterday and talk about ‘respecting the planet’ but I have restrained myself and have decided to talk about a different aspect of respect instead.
I’m going to focus on respect when there is conflict and disagreement.
Respect is important to me, I feel it is important to treat everyone with respect and dignity. I believe you should treat people the way you want to be treated (my poor class hear that phrase often). Respect is earnt and you only earn it when you show it first. I always try and remember this when I am dealing with children who are displaying challenging behaviour.
It takes time to build relationships with the children you teach, it is time that is well worth investing in, but at the beginning of that relationship sometimes children appear disrespectful-this happens normally when they are stressed or anxious or angry. It is at these times that I remind myself to stay calm and respectful, no matter how rudely the child might be acting. I have learnt over time that if I maintain a respectful manner then the children learn to adopt one too; as they come to trust me they start to become less defensive and know I will treat them with respect. This is the key to managing children with challenging behaviour for me-build a respectful relationship, show them they can trust you and then when things go wrong for them (as they will do) they are more likely to calm down quickly and return your respect when you are attempting to help them resolve the problem.
This brings me onto my second point about respect and conflict- I think it is always important to maintain a respectful attitude, even when you disagree with someone, something a lot of politicians could do with learning!
My example of this is my mother-in-law. It is fair to say that I don’t have the easiest relationship with her. Our views on the world are very different. She is an avid reader of newspapers like the Daily Mail and Daily Express. These tend to report an rather right wing view of the world and, in my view, encourage intolerance and ignorance a lot of the time. (I’m worried I might be being a bit disrespectful here).
I am generally a very laid back person and have a ‘live and let live’ attitude towards most things but intolerance and ignorance are things that I hate, there isn’t much that makes me angry but these will press my buttons. So when my mother-in-law espouses her world view based on the limited, one sided reporting of her newspapers, I am often faced with a choice:
- I can ignore her (but this could be rude, she is trying to engage in conversation after all)
- I can nod insincere platitudes (I just can’t bring myself to do this one)
- I can make my excuses and leave the room (I admit, i have done this one, when I have felt myself getting too angry and I’ve been worried I might say something rude)
- I can challenge her and give her another point of view in an attempt to balance the argument.
I tend to choose option 3 or 4 with my mother-in-law, it just depends on what she is saying at the time and how much I am emotionally effected by it. But when I do challenge her, I try to do so in a dignified and respectful manner.
Too often in our world, people get aggressive or defensive when others have a different view to them. I don’t like a lot of the views held by the writers of the Daily Mail, or by readers like my mother-in-law, but I accept that other people have different views to me.
I have to accept that my mother-in-law and I may never agree on some issues, and that is ok, providing we can treat each other with respect (which for the last 22 years we have mostly manged!).
I try and take this attitude whenever I come across someone who I disagree with-treat them with dignity and respect but challenge their views with a different side to the argument when their view strays into intolerance.