Compliance isn’t Respect

“Compliance isn’t respect, and noncompliance isn’t a lack of respect” is a big lesson for adults to learn.

One thing that has continually blown me away as I’ve learned and grown on this journey of coming to understand child development is how much language plays a role in this. I took completely for granted how massively complicated speech and language and language processing all are.

Here is a small and incredibly obvious example. My son, 4.5 years old, was undergoing a language assessment. They showed him a picture of three people, two of whom were drinking out of cups. They asked, “Which person is not drinking?”

My son pointed to the two people drinking out of cups. His brain processed the language as “Person…drinking?” and he answered accordingly.

In this context, it seems obvious. He was being assessed for a language delay. He was clearly doing his best. Nobody was upset at him about it. But take the exact same child on the exact same day and put him in a classroom with a teacher saying “Do not go over there” or “Do not touch that”, and his very same inability to carry out exactly what it is that they want from him could be construed down a slippery slope as a lack of respect.

(I would like to clarify that my son’s school is actually awesome and I love everyone there, and none of them would think that of him—but I have worked with children in the past, the same age, who have not had the same luck.)

[Image description: A light purple background with a line drawing of an adult with their arm around a child. The text reads, “Compliance isn’t respect. Children learn respect when they see and experience respect.” The quote is by @The_Therapist_Parent. End description.]