Teaching the Value of Respect Using the Holidays

Growing YearsThe 4th of July offers a great venue to teach your child to respect their country and the symbols that represent it to us. Explain to your child what makes America so special, and how we show our gratitude for the privilege of living within her borders.

Look at an American flag together, pointing out what each part represents. The 13 stripes stand for the original 13 British colonies, whose citizens decided in 1776 that they wanted to govern themselves rather than be ruled by a king, and the 50 stars stand for our 50 states. Explain that it stands for our whole country and that it tells the world we are Americans connected to each and on the same team. Because our flag is a special way of identifying us as Americans, we treat it with respect. When our flag is displayed in a parade, etc., it is appropriate to stand at attention, remove hats, and put right hand over your heart, while those who have served in the military salute.

Teach your child that the pledge we make is simply a promise. We’re saying that we’ll be loyal to our country, which the flag stands for (allegiance). We are acknowledging that our allegiance is based on our freedom to decide who our leaders will be (republic), where everyone works together (indivisible). We have as a common goal that people to be free (liberty) and treated fairly by others (justice). Most countries do not have a pledge of allegiance of their own, but Americans created one as a reminder of their freedoms.

The National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is our country’s song, and we sing it to show that we are proud to be Americans. Out of respect for our freedoms, we stand while singing it, with hand over heart. Share with your child the origin of the song. During the War of 1812, after British ships bombarded a fort in Baltimore, during a fierce battle, a young poet and lawyer, Francis Scott Key, saw that our flag still flying, proudly waving in the sky. Knowing this meant we had won the battle and still were free from England, he wrote the words.

We often take for granted that our child knows these things, but it is important to reinforce the concept of respect from the home. Respect for self, country, and others is the responsibility of parents, grandparents, and community.