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Key Takeaways:

  • Respect is a positive way of thinking or treating people as well as recognizing a person’s value and importance.
  • Respect is important to learn because it forms the basis of good relationships.
  • There are many engaging activities that can teach kids respect.

The word “respect” may make kids think of all kinds of associations with certain behaviors. To them, it may look like paying attention, obeying adults, and following rules. But there is so much more to respect than that. Having respect for others can help encourage kindness, improve relationships, foster good manners, and build one’s character. A child’s sense of respect can be developed through respect activities for kids, which we’ll cover today.

Definition of Respect for Kids

While everybody has an inkling of what respect entails in terms of behavior, it can be a bit challenging to define. Webster’s Dictionary defines respect as “high or special regard” and “the quality or state of being esteemed.” How do we see this in everyday life, especially for kids?

Respect is essentially a positive way of thinking of or treating someone. It also means recognizing a person’s value and importance as a human being and treating them accordingly. Showing someone respect means you consider them as equals. Kids may already show respect in their daily actions without realizing it, such as when they:

  • Say “please” and “thank you”
  • Play fair
  • Wait their turn
  • Tidy up after themselves
  • Listen to others when they are speaking
  • Use their manners
  • Give someone else a compliment

The Importance of Teaching Respect to Kids

Respecting each other is one of the important values we learn that forms the basis of good relationships. This is because respect teaches us to care about how our words and actions affect people. As kids continue to grow, they learn more about who they are and what they can do through these relationships. By respecting others, they can be more aware and accepting of others’ different needs, feelings, and ideas.

Treating each other with respect is necessary to form a safe and peaceful society. It is especially important as it means treating others the way we would like to be treated.

15 Best Respect Activities for Kids

Teaching respect doesn’t have to be limited to lectures or simply asking your child to follow rules. There are many ways to teach kids about respect that are fun and engaging. Here are 15 of the best respect activities for kids that you can try.

1. Defining respect

A simple way to start understanding respect is for kids to look up the definition themselves. Have them practice their dictionary-searching skills, find the definition, and then write it down in their own words. After that, ask them to describe ways that they have acted respectfully or disrespectfully in the past week. Since this activity will require reading, it is best for children aged 6 to 7 and up.

2. Ketchup squirt

For this activity, you’ll need a ketchup bottle and a plate. Ask your kids to squeeze some of it out onto the plate. Then, ask them to put it back into the bottle. After a few attempts, explain to them that just like the ketchup that is already on the plate, disrespectful words are impossible to take back. This activity is suitable for children aged 5 and up.

3. Compliments

One way of showing someone how much you respect them is by giving them a compliment. Ask your child to give a sincere compliment to someone every day for a week. Have them keep track of who they gave the compliment to and the reaction they received. This will teach them that expressing their high regard for someone through a compliment can make that person feel better. This is suitable for kids aged 5 and up.

4. Respect word ring

For this activity you’ll need stock card paper, assorted sticker letters, binder rings, a paper cutter, and a hole puncher. Cut out similar-sized cards and have your kids use sticker letters to spell the word “respect” on the first card. Punch a hole through the corner and attach it to the binder ring. Every week, add another word related to respect to the binder ring. Learning different words associated with respect can give them a better understanding of what it means to live out this value. This is suitable for kids aged 6 and up.

5. Respect list

This activity is simple, but it shows kids what respect looks like when other people do it. Have your child come up with a list of people they think are respectful. Ask them to explain why they added these people to their list and what qualities they have that make them respectful. This activity is good for children aged 4 and up.

6. Respect rap

One of the most fun activities to teach kids respect is the respect rap. Start by having your kids discuss why being respectful is important. Then have them work with a partner or in groups to create a song, rap, or chant about respect. Encourage them to use words that show how respect could make the world a better place. Have the pairs or groups write down the rap and be ready to share it with the class. This is great for children aged 8 or 9 and above.

7. What respect looks and sounds like

Create cards with kind phrases and ask your kids to differentiate between “what respect looks like” and “what respect sounds like.” This is an excellent way to help kids understand the definition of respect in a practical way. This is suitable for children aged 5 and up.

8. $1 or 100 pennies

Have your kids brainstorm similarities and differences between 100 pennies and a dollar bill. After they have listed these, they can then discuss how both are different at first but are really the same thing in the end. You can explain that it is similar to people. We may all be different at first, but we are all people deserving of respect at the end of the day. This is suitable for kids aged 7 and up.

9. Respect art activity

The Respect Art activity involves focusing on each of the letters in the word “respect.” Have your kids think of as many examples of respectful acts that start with each letter and then present it as a collage to present to the class. This will help your kids expand their knowledge of what respect is and help them realize that there are many ways to show respect.

10. “Caught ya!” slips

“Caught ya!” slips are a fun way to encourage kids to engage in respectful acts. Hand them out at the beginning of the week and instruct your kids to hand a slip to their peers and classmates every time they see someone being respectful. This is great for kids aged 5 and up.

11. Emotions thermometer

Having a way to visualize one’s emotions is an excellent way to learn about respect. This is because our actions are connected to our emotions, which in turn are connected to the emotions of others. Try helping your kids identify their emotions using this feelings thermometer handout so that they may learn more about empathy and how to practice mutual respect among peers. This is an excellent activity for kids aged 5 and up.

12. Respectful vs. disrespectful

One of the more straightforward activities to teach kids respect that is simple but effective is describing ways to answer respectfully. Have your child imagine that they are answering the phone or responding to something their friend said. Ask them to give you an example of answering in a respectful way. They can also share the opposite — what would be a disrespectful way to respond? This is suitable for kids aged 6 and up.

13. Campaign poster

This campaign poster activity is great for a class to learn about respect. Have each of your kids create a campaign poster about respect. Instruct them to include the word “respect” and two or three reasons why someone would want to vote for having respect at school. This teaches your kids the value of having respect throughout the community. This is a great activity for kids aged 8 and up.

14. Synonym activity

Synonyms are an excellent way to help your kids understand what respect really means. After looking up the definition of respect in the dictionary, ask them to find at least 10 words that are similar to the word “respectful.” Write each of the synonyms on a small piece of paper and then link them to make a chain. This is suitable for kids aged 6 and up.

15. What if?

“What if” scenarios are always useful activities to teach respect. Ask your child some “what if” questions that will make them think about ways to react in different scenarios. Some good questions may include the following:

  • An adult is being disrespectful to you. What would you do?
  • If a grown-up yelled at you for something you didn’t do, what would you say or do?

This challenges your kids to find ways to answer respectfully even though they are faced with a tough situation. This activity is best suited for kids aged 8 and up.

The Bottom Line

These activities that teach kids how to respect are essential to relationships and well-being. Learning all about respect is essential to our sense of self and to the interactions we have with others. Respect is about more than just treating others with courtesy; it's also about feeling respected by others. Respect is a crucial component of who we are as people and how we interact with those around us.

To learn more about respect, you can check out our character education posters on respect and other related values, such as honesty and caring.

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