I have heard children called many things, a wonder, a necessity, a commodity, the future and occasionally a treasure. I like the words wonder and treasure, but ultimately I see children as another person, smaller than me yes, but a person just the same. I therefore regard children the same as I would an adult, and this includes the way I talk to them.
Recently I witnessed children being spoken to in a way that I would not even contemplate. The adults in question were also talking in a way that degraded the children in front of their peers. Standing above a child and yelling, telling them to respect the adult, and to listen when the adult is talking, was both appalling and confusing to me.
Watching this behaviour made me wonder; how can a child learn to respect others’ if they are themselves not respected? How can anyone learn to listen if they are not given the opportunity to be heard themselves?
When children are learning new skills and being told to “hurry up” or “you’re too slow”, what else are they learning? When an adult is learning a new skill, do you see another person standing over them and yelling to hurry up?
Children are growing up to become the best adults they possibly can and the teachers of the coming generations. Don’t we owe it to today’s children, to show them that they deserve to be heard, listened to, respected and treated, as we would like to be treated? For a young person to know how to listen to others, be considerate and respectful, they need to have experienced these themselves. As we model these behaviours, children will begin to witness first hand that we value them as much as our adult friends, and they are and always will be an important element in our society.