This summer I had the privilege of spending seven weeks as a Girl Scout resident camp counselor. I learned a lot I didn’t know about working with children, but the most influential thing I learned was how to earn a child’s respect. Working with young girls from a variety of ages, I realized that when we treat children as our equals and give them the same respect we would give to another adult, they in turn give us the same respect. At the close of each week the campers would fill out evaluations of their week at camp. The results were the same from ages 5 to 17. “Suzie” had fun at camp because her counselors listened to her and didn’t yell. “Sally” didn’t like her counselors because they yelled too much. I observed first hand how the girls responded to counselors who didn’t give them respect; they simply didn’t like them or wouldn’t give them respect in return. On the flip side, the girls’ favorite counselors every week were always the counselors who listened and took the time to treat the girls like they were important. So here’s the one thing about earning a child’s respect. If you give it, you’ll get it in return—a child may be young but they deserve the same respect you would give anyone else.
December 5, 2011