Creative Child

Kids are People, Too – Treating Children with Kindness and Respect

by Rebecca Eanes

"Most adults treat kids like we are worth less than they are - like they can talk to us however they want because our brains aren't fully matured and they think it won't hurt, but it does." - 11 year old boy


Worth less. Worthless.


The kind and respectful treatment of children is something that I have spent years advocating for. I get the sense that we equate buying their Nike shoes and feeding them meals to “kind and respectful” treatment. Yes, adults do a lot for their children that is to be commended, yet it is our attitudes, tone of voice, and choice of words toward them that convey a troubling lack of basic respect, and the kids are noticing.


I’ve spent a fair amount of time volunteering at school. I’ve been involved in sports, martial arts, performing arts, and Cub Scouts. I’ve seen plenty of adult/child interactions and here’s the bottom line: We talk down to children. We don’t show them equal kindness, patience, and respect as we show to other adults and a question worth asking is why? I believe the answer is we think that doing so would compromise our authority. We believe that we have to talk down to them so they’ll understand that we are higher up in the ranks. I don’t think we necessarily mean to do this. I don’t feel that we are making a conscious choice to disrespect kids; it’s just what we have grown accustomed to. It is so commonplace that no one bats an eyelash when a child is told, “I said put that down NOW!” or “COME ON or I am leaving you here,” but if my husband said that to me, it’d be rude.


Honestly, it’s still rude, even when you say it to a little human.


In a school lunchroom recently, an adult told the children “Hey, you all are acting like animals in here! You are too loud! Tone it down or there’ll be no talking, period!” How are rooms filled with noisy adults handled when someone needs to speak? Are they called animals? Scolded? Or does someone generally get their attention with a hand raised in the air or a polite “excuse me?”


Last year, when my son forgot his water bottle at school, it was placed in a “box of shame.” Last month, when I left my purse at a hotel, they politely gave it back.


No one yells at me for knocking over my drink. They hand me a towel.

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