Monday, January 31

Teach Kids Respect for Law

Teaching kids respect for the law is usually not a sit down and talk affair; it is more likely to be a monkey see monkey do thing. Respect for authority is learned unconsciously or imitated naturally by kids from parents and other caregivers in their young lives.

Respect for the law is learned from parents
Photograph courtesy
There was this teenage girl I know who used to pocket pens in shop counters after signing a receipt. These are not spectacular pens but often scratchy worthless objects minutes away from their eternal rest in landfills. When asked why she did it, she just turned around and said, "But Daddy does it all the time!"

She had obviously been watching Daddy do it ever since she could remember and it probably was a cute secret between the parent and child and made for great bonding, but it was wrong on so many levels. Parents are at the bottom of most acquired behaviours and these things persist into adulthood.

One method grown-ups adopt to appear cool before their growing kids, is to break simple traffic laws. You might get away with running a light and laugh over it with your little girl. You might even feel a little bit heroic and imagine you impress your child with this act of rebellion. It might seem like a lot of fun at the time, but you are unconsciously or not, sowing seeds of disrespect for the law. You are sending messages that say it is quite clever to bend rules, twist laws, and outwit cops.

Teach children to show respect for the law
Photograph courtesy

Bad cops are a sad reality, but that doesn't mean you paint the entire force with the same colours. Doing that will only paint an overly pessimistic and insecure social picture for your child. The law is there to protect you; and that is true regardless of the negative instances that crop up in the media and the movies.

Parents and caregivers are the primary source through which kids learn about legalities and how to adhere to them. Public life comes with a list of dos and don'ts and kids watch what you do and don't do. Stealing is stealing whether it is a lowly CD or the crown jewels.

Even if you're scrupulous about obeying the law, your child might come home with something in his pockets from the supermarket.Explain clearly why it's not right. Do not get all righteous and brand him a thief. Go back with him and return the product or pay for it. The important thing to remember here is to align yourself firmly on the side of the child and not side with the others against him. You're in it together. If the store clerk makes a big thing out of it, you should be at the receiving end of it with your child. There's a touch of unpleasantness involved here in this act of returning stolen property and this may just be what it takes to deter the child from ever doing it again.

Teach children to follow rules and obey the law
Photograph courtesy

Teaching kids respect for the law may mean giving them the support they require to stand up to peer pressure which may sometimes cause them to break the law. Breaking the law is bad and should not be treated as some rite of passage that grands heroism.If you condone minor misdemeanours, you are culpable of encouraging more deviant behaviour as the child grows. Clearly align yourself on the side of the law and don’t send mixed signals to your child about which side you're on.

You don’t have to be a bank robber to be a law breaker; simple things such as tearing pages off a library book, downloading copyrighted material from the internet, sneaking mints off the counter when the sales clerk is not looking, pocketing stuff that belongs to others when you find them lying around, well the list could go on, but you get what I'm trying to say. Teaching respect for the law gives kids clear guidelines on proper social behaviour as well as mental boundaries that encourage them to do the right thing without any prompting. 


  1. It is true that kids these days think the law is a joke.And I don't think that's going to change.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Anon.Well,I'm hoping we can make the change by educating our kids about it while we can.


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