Does a 4 year old child really understand respect?

Hayley - posted on 11/04/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )




My ex- partner constantly had a go at me that my four year old child does not respect me. As she looks at me picking up her clothes? I can't really see a child at 4 thinking like that is thsi right?


Chet - posted on 11/04/2014




I think it depends on what you mean by respect...

I've seen a lot of parents (it seems in the US especially) use respect to mean that a child "respects their authority". The child follows rules and does what they are told. Similarly, those parents will say that children "disrespect them" when they don't follow instructions, don't follow rules, speak inappropriately, etc.

A four year old can follow rules. You can train most four year olds to exhibit certain behaviours in certain situations. I don't think a four year old can truly respect somebody though. True respect requires a level of social development and cognitive maturity that takes a long time to develop.

Respect is a complex emotion. You admire and value somebody for what they do. A lot of children don't truly appreciate their parents until they become parents themselves!

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