By Mike Collodi
As adults, it is our responsibility to demonstrate positive behaviors and actions to the young people in our lives. When we, as grown men, dads, coaches, teachers and role models, show respect for women, boys in our community are watching and learning from our actions. High school is an age where boys are being shaped into the men they will become.
I have been a coach at Elizabeth Forward High School for four years. I have had the privilege to work with hundreds of young athletes, and I can say I am proud of many who have since graduated and gone on to do great things in their lives.
Whether you’re an educator, a coach, a CEO, or just a parent of a young man, here are a few ways you can consider demonstrating respectful behavior to young men in your life:
- Host a character day: Last year during football camp, we took one day to focus solely on character building. We brought in guest speakers to talk to the athletes about different subjects. Our school guidance counselor talked about what the students needed to do in order to go to college; a domestic violence specialist spoke about respectful behaviors; a collegiate strength and conditioning coach discussed the dangers of supplements and nutrition; and a Staff Sergeant Marine discussed the importance of teamwork, toughness, accountability and how to handle adversity.
The boys were receptive to everyone, and we had a lot of important conversations throughout the day. You could consider doing this on a smaller level for your kids’ local sports teams, or another group you support.
- United Way’s Coaching Boys Into Men Program: We implemented this program at Elizabeth Forward three years ago, and we have seen the change in our athletes. The CBIM program provides weekly discussion topics about consent, respect, domestic violence, and other important topics. These weekly talks have made a huge difference in the culture of the school and our male athletes.
- Set a good example: Whether you’re a coach or you just have kids in your life, it’s up to all of us to set a positive example. We can do this by not swearing around kids, speaking politely to each other and being engaged when you’re talking to a student. By simply listening actively and not looking at our phones or getting distracted, we can show kids we care about them and are here to listen.
- It’s simple, RESPECT: Treat everyone around you with respect – women, other adults, opponents, colleagues, employees and most importantly, yourself. Kids are always watching. If we all try to be respectful of one another, they will learn from our example.
In today’s environment, we all understand the importance of guiding boys so they can grow into respectful, caring men, fathers, professionals and coaches in their futures. If we all make a targeted effort to be more respectful and set a positive example to the boys around us, we will see our community change for the better.