Teach your students to have self-respect

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Imagine holding a big juicy orange in your hand. The fruit feels heavy and cool, and you excitedly anticipate enjoying what it has ‘inside’. You know for sure that the orange, when squeezed, will only produce orange juice.  You do not expect, nor will you receive, apple, pear or even grape juice, right?  This is, of course, because an orange only HAS orange juice inside to ‘give’.

Consider how this analogy can be applied to human nature. In a similar way to the orange, WE can only give to others what we have inside of ourselves to give. It cannot be any other way. How we treat ourselves will determine how we feel about ourselves. This will directly impact on how we treat others and how we will allow others to treat us.

Learning to have self-respect will, therefore, ensure that we will respect others, honour boundaries, behave with integrity and honesty and build strong and healthy relationships. In addition, the benefits of having a healthy sense of self-respect ensure that we become:

  • Assertive in expressing our needs and opinions
  • Confident in our ability to make decisions
  • Able to form secure and honest relationships — and less likely to stay in unhealthy ones
  • Realistic in our expectations and less likely to be overcritical of ourselves and others
  • More resilient and better able to weather stress and setbacks

Self-respect affects virtually every facet of our life. Maintaining a healthy, realistic view of ourselves isn’t about blowing our own horn. It’s about learning to like and respect ourselves — faults and all.

Nobody who has a positive sense of self-respect will want to hurt another! Imagine how different life would be in our schools if we could teach our students to have self-respect.

Consider these helpful tips to help your students learn the essential skill of self-respect:

  1. The most effective way to teach self-respect is to model it. Our students do what we do, not always what we say. Start by making sure that you respect yourself first. Model it to your students. Speak of it often.  It is a win-win as one of theenefits of self-respect is happiness and fulfillment- and who would not want that?
  2. Teach your students to take responsibility for their behaviours and choices. Accountability is essential in developing self-respect. Mistakes and failures are inevitable. Individuals with high levels of self-respect will own their mistakes and seek to find positive solutions. They will not blame others for their own choices.
  3. Teach your students to set healthy personal boundaries. It is ok to say no without feeling shameful or guilty. We teach others how to treat us. Setting boundaries ensures that we create and maintain self-respect.
  4. Teach your students that they can and should walk away from abusive or unhealthy friendships. Positive friendships share common values and respect each other’s personal space. Allowing or justifying negative behaviours from others simply teaches them to continue in these behaviours. ‘I respect myself enough to not allow others to treat me in a disrespectful manner. It is because I respect myself that I ensure that I, too, respect others.’
  5. Teach your students to be kind-towards themselves first and, in turn, toward others. ‘Be gentle with yourself, young one, for we are all learning and growing and finding our way through life.’

Self-respect can only be taught effectively if it is modelled effectively. Respect yourself enough to teach your students to do the same. Teach self- respect through role-play and games. Have discussions about self-respect at every opportunity. Remind your students that their behaviours reflect how much respect they have for themselves. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worthwhile!