I had a chance to interview an educator named Diallo Grant, who uses the practice of mutual respect in his after-school program for kids who are homeless. We asked him to tell us in the following video about the key factors he identifies as being the source of the program’s success with these kids…factors like discipline based on logical consequences which fixes a behavior rather than punishing it, bypassing forced obedience… factors like consistency and follow through…and the most essential and important factor of all – respecting the kids and getting them to trust you.
At the end of this short video clip he emphatically repeats “it’s crucial!” meaning that mutual respect and trust are absolutely crucial when interacting with older children. It is critical to your success with any child that the relationship be based on respect and trust — that they feel safe with you — trusting that you won’t put them in a position of losing…the kind of losing where they experience consequences as being solely punitive, where they feel forced into submission, where there are ego-centered conflicts with them resisting domination and avoiding anything that even remotely smacks of humiliation.
Always coming from mutual respect and the building of mutual trust bypass this kind of ego-defensive anti-domination game-playing that is sadly so common in parent-child relationships, from parent to child or the reverse as well. Diallo mentions four keys to relationships that are mutually beneficial to both adult and child:
1. Using discipline to fix behavior, not punish, and have the child understand what works/what doesn’t, through the use of logical consequences;
2. Practicing consistency and following through with any rules you make with your child;
3. Demonstrating respect for a child every day;
4. Concentrating on what it will take for them to trust you (Ex: not being a hypocrite or punitive)
All of the above will foster their respect for YOU, plus your ability to trust THEM — crucial elements to successful interactions that feel good to any parent of an older child or pre-teen. Great parenting pays off in all kinds of mutual benefit for you and your child.
In the comments below, we would love to hear from you about a time when you behaved in a mutually respectful way that helped to resolve a problem you had with your pre-teen or older child.
Be as specific as you can in your comments. Concrete examples of how you behaved, what you said, and what you did and the effect this had on your child help us all learn and prompt us to be more creative.
Thank you, as always, for reading and getting engaged in the discussion!
By Dr. Lonnie Green, M.Ed., PhD