Respect for elders - a fun, friendly explanation for kids.
You’ve heard this word before. Respect. The adults keep talking about it and how kids these days don’t have any. But you don’t understand why you keep getting told that, because you thought you were acting perfectly fine - you're quite angel-like if you must say so yourself.
So what is respect, and how can we show it?
Behaving respectfully with someone is to be kind to them, smile, listen, show that you care and never be impatient or rude - even if you feel that they are being unfair. You might have been told many times, to respect your elders, so it’s gotten quite boring now, which is why the examples below, might be the best (and least boring) way to help you understand.
Some respectful vs disrespectful behaviour
When an adult comes into the room and there are no more seats left for them, you jump up and give them yours.
When an adult comes into the room and there are no more seats left for them, you hold onto yours really hard and pretend not to notice.
When an elder calls out your name, you quickly leave what you’re doing and go to them to see what they need.
When an elder calls out your name, you roll your eyes and pretend you didn’t hear and hope they will just do it themselves.
When an elder asks you to do something, you pleasantly say, ‘OK’ and then actually do it in the best way possible.
When an elder asks you to do something, you react with a sudden, unexplained, body spasm along with something coming out of your mouth that sounds like: goooaarrrghhh.
When someone is speaking to you, you put your phone or other distracting objects down and face them to show that they have your attention.
When someone is speaking to you, you flick through the notifications on your phone at the same time, or carry on watching tv, or playing with your toy and just say: ‘uh huh’ occasionally so they think you’re listening.
When an elder is telling you something you already know, you still listen politely and smile.
When an elder is telling you something you already know, you stop them grandly, mid-sentence, to announce that you already know this and actually they told you this story last Tuesday.
When an elder is doing something, difficult, or not so difficult, you offer to help. In fact, if you can see that they are struggling, you gently insist on doing it for them.
When an elder is doing something, difficult, or not so difficult, you suddenly go into undercover mode to walk past them, in a complete silent tiptoe, just in case they see you and ask for help.
When an elder is telling you off for something that wasn’t even your fault, you speak to them calmly and explain the situation. You don’t shout and you never use bad words, or show how cross you are with your body language.
When an elder is telling you off for something that wasn’t even your fault, you lose your temper, shout, use bad words and let them know how wrong and horrible they for treating you this way. Then you storm off and break something, just for some more satisfaction.
When people are talking with each other, and you need to say something about something completely different, you stand nearby and patiently wait to speak.
When people are talking with each other, and you need to say something about something completely different, you poke on of them seventeen times, whilst saying what you need to say over and over and over again, in a really loud voice so they can hear you over their own conversation.
Other Super angel-like respectful behaviour you can try
When an adult comes home, you bounce down the stairs to greet them with salaam and hugs.
When you are walking with someone, you always let them go through the door first.
When you come home, or leave home, you say salaam pleasantly, to everyone.
When you’re in other people’s space (e.g their room/house), you treat it the way they want it to be treated.
If someone likes to do things in a different way to you, you understand that that is perfectly normal and fine.
Is respect something we only have for our own family?
Absolutely not. Our parents, grandparents and other relatives deserve our respect the most, so we should make sure we are being perfect in our respect towards them; but the best of people are those who behave respectfully with everyone, no matter who they are.
Why should I be respectful, anyway?
Allah told us in the Qur’an to be kind to our parents. The prophet (saw) also said that we absolutely must behave this way with elders and also for elders to show mercy and kindness to young children.
Now, if you’re super smart, you’ll know by now that whatever Allah has asked us to do, is for goodness for ourselves. It makes our lives much, much better. Just think about how you feel when you do something good, when your family are happy with you and you see it on their faces and feel it in their hugs or other actions. How nice it is when everyone in the house is happy with each other, not to mention how good it will feel when you meet Allah and see how happy He is with you.
So there you go, hopefully you have a better idea of what is it to respect someone. Put it into practice right away!
Zanib Mian is the award-winning author of 30 Hadith for Kids, Migo & Ali and lots of other children’s books, for a variety of age groups. Check them out here!