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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Day 17: Kindness and Respect Challenge (Beyond Shut Up and Listen to Me)

October 17, 2013

Just shut up. No, YOU shut up!

So the US government shut-down is over and the default crisis has been diverted with seconds to spare. Cool cool cool.

This isn’t a political post so no worries. Today, I’m neutral. Really. I don’t care which side of the river you pitch your tent. I only care about teaching kids to be good people, and that includes treating other people with respect. We all remember respect, right? The fine art of  listening with an open heart and mind even when you don’t agree with what the other guy is saying. Even when listening to him or her makes your head explode.

What we all witnessed going down on Capitol Hill these past few weeks provides a great opportunity to talk to kids about compromise. When the kids in your life engage in a dispute on the playing field or a heated discussion in the classroom, what do they do? How do they typically behave when they’re locked in a disagreement with you or siblings or friends?

The slog has cleared in Washington and it’s a great time to have conversations, at home and at school, about getting along with other people. First you might start by asking yourself two simple questions:

  • “How well do my kids perform when it comes to calming down and putting in the time and effort to understand the other guy’s or girl’s point of view?
  • “In what ways could I do a better job helping my kids work together to move respectfully through a conflict to a compromise that serves the greater good (of the family, the team, the class)?”

Now that you’ve got something to think about, take the concepts out of your head and bring them into the real world of kids and the challenge of getting along with people. Talk to your children about resolving conflicts (online and off). Find out which of their approaches work well and which ones not so much. Make sure the discussion remains open and safe with all opinions respectfully listened to.

Oh, and don’t forget to model what you teach. For example, when your kids disagree with you and dig in their heels, how do you typically respond?

As always, your comments are valued and respected.


Check out Day 18 of the Kindness and Respect Challenge


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