We’ve been discussing respect in class this past week. I asked my 7th graders to give examples of when they DON’T feel respected by adults. They replied without hesitating: “When they don’t trust me” and “When they treat me like a 3-year-old.”
We adults expect – even demand – respect from the teens in our lives. I’m no exception; at least once a week I point out to a student that I’m not feeling respected by her tone of voice or by her arguing with me.
But how much respect do you give to your teens? I often say that my secret to getting along with middle schoolers is that I treat them like young adults – but I’m not surprised when they behave like children. When I use the same tone of voice I’d use when speaking to adults, I get less whining and defensiveness.
Imagine the response if you used any of these phrases with the adults in your life:
“What is wrong with you today?”
“What were you thinking?”
“Could you think of someone else besides yourself just this once?”
“Maybe you need to go to bed earlier!”
The next time you start to complain about your teen not respecting you, stop for a moment and check yourself. It could be your teen is simply responding to the way you are addressing him. Use a calm, reasonable tone, and don’t forget your manners. “Please take your dishes to the kitchen” will get better results than “Why do you always leave your dishes on the couch?” The latter is just begging for a less-than-respectful response, or a maddening “I dunno.”
The picture at the beginning of this post is of a poster that is found in our 8th grade classroom. It seems too easy, but give it a try and see what happens.
Aretha spoke for teens everywhere:
“All I’m askin’ – is for a little RESPECT. . .”