MWW : At what age is a good time for kids to learn about respect?
RK: Absolutely from day of birth! Watch the children that have been taught and empowered from young to respect themselves, respect others and respect the environment. They are usually a lot more well-regulated and intuitive because from day one, they have been taught not only that they matter, but other people matter too. They have been taught to listen to their bodies and intuition. From day one with Ella Grace, we have been firm with our boundaries and instead of keeping her in a box, the practice of respect has given her the freedom to explore and absolutely thrive within those boundaries.
The idea of Respectful Parenting isn’t just that kids are allowed to be their own amazing little individuals, but it is also that they will be taught how to respect others and the environment around them too.
MWW : Could you share your thoughts on the positive or negative effects of practicing compassionate and respectful parenting, especially in Asian culture.
RK: Can I only pick one? 😂 The positives affects are endless because by practicing compassionate and respectful parenting, we are raising well-rounded little individuals and future leaders who are kind, resilient, and confident. Even at 1 or 2 years of age, these little ones have their circle of influence as do your children.
My daughter, for instance, is a huge eco-warrior and that has made me re-examine my own single-use plastics and how I am managing my waste. She goes to the wet markets where it’s plastic galore and tells the vendors, “No plastic, please!”
Coming from a little person, they are willing and curious to know about her ‘why’ and she is able to educate and empower them with kindness with the few words that she knows and understands. Whereas if it came from me, they would just brand me as the lunatic.
This comes from Respectful Parenting – teaching her that she is able, whole and competent. That she can beat to her own drum while still being part of a community that respects one another for their choices or their beliefs.
Personally, the negatives are that there’s not enough awareness on Respectful Parenting. People usually have a misconception that it is just the hippie way of letting your children run wild and that we get lumped with children that have no boundaries. There’s also a lot of judgment from old-school ‘fear-based’ parenting advocates who believe strongly in shaming, bribing, threatening, spanking and guilting because they have seen it work effectively and immediately time and time again, without realising the long-term repercussions.
But like all things, I try my best to empathise with their stories and not judge. I also try to be respectful and understand that everyone is different and has their own way of doing things. We can still build a community together that our littles can grow to be a part of. That’s really the heart of it, isn’t it?
Racheal Kwacz is a Child and Family Development Specialist, mama tribe advocate and women’s leadership speaker. As creator of the ‘RACHEAL Method’, she combines her 20+ years’ experience working with children in the USA and in Asia with the foundations of ‘Respectful Parenting’, leading parents and teachers around the world in raising kind, confident, compassionate, resilient little ones. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @rachealkwacz.