We can tell children to respect their friends and peers, however, if they do not understand why, this can be a monumental task. Did you know what respect meant when you were a child? I didn’t either.
We can start by telling children, “We are all different”, or “There are no two snowflakes alike” (I’ve always wondered who took the time to look at every snowflake), but this still doesn’t clarify why they should respect others. We must get down to the nitty-gritty truth with kids.
Let’s say Alice who has a motivational gift of serving is asked to get up in front of the class to share a story. Those with a gift of service do not like to get up in front of others. They may resist strongly.
But Bethany has a motivational gift of teaching and has no problem getting up in front of others to share what she knows; in fact, glories in the opportunity.
Friends and peers may taunt and tease Alice while they applaud Bethany. If they understood that Alice has a very hard time standing in front of their friends, they would respect her reservations and hopefully encourage her rather than tease her, or perhaps compare her to her friend Bethany who is a natural at sharing information with her friends.
When children understand their friend’s motivations, they are much more forgiving and encouraging—even more so than adults—and find it easier to respect their unique differences. Teach your children early what each of their God-given gifts are so they will learn to respect others as they grow into their teenage years.
A teacher at a school in Georgia realized this and decided to incorporate a study of the motivational gifts in her classroom. After listing to one of my interviews about identifying children’s motivational gifts, she realized the value of discovering those of her student’s, and that this simple education might be a tool to help reduce the rate of bullying. I’d love to do a study on this one day!