How You Can Teach Respect
By Steve McChesney
One of the most important things you can teach your child is respect. Keep in mind that respect is not the same as obedience. Children might obey because they are afraid. If they respect you, they will obey because they know you want what's best for them.
The best way to teach respect is to show respect. When a child experiences respect, they know what it feels like and begin to understand how important it is. Keep in mind the saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Respect is an attitude. Being respectful helps a child succeed in life. If children don't have respect for peers, authority, or themselves, it's almost impossible for them to succeed. A respectful child takes care of belongings and responsibilities, and a respectful child gets along with peers.
Schools teach children about respect, but parents have the most influence on how respectful children become. Until children show respect at home, it's unlikely they will show it anywhere else.
Respecting your child
How can you show respect to your child?
• Be honest. If you do something wrong, admit it and apologize.
• Be positive. Don't embarrass, insult or make fun of your child. Compliment him.
• Be trusting. Let your child make choices and take responsibility.
• Be fair. Listen to your child's side of the story before reaching a conclusion.
• Be polite. Use "please" and "thank you." Knock before entering your child's room.
• Be reliable. Keep promises. Show your child that you mean what you say.
• Be a good listener. Give your child your full attention.
Modeling good behavior
Children learn from everything we say and do. Make sure that you are modeling respectful behavior. Some of things you can do are:
• Obey laws. Follow rules.
• Be caring. Show concern for people, animals and the environment.
• Avoid poor role models. When you see examples of disrespect, discuss them.
More respect tactics
When you set rules at home, explain to your child why the rule is important. For instance, if the rule is "No TV between 4:00 and 6:00," explain that this is because this is homework time and homework is important to keep grades up in school.
• Teach your children to respect themselves. Self-respect is one of the most important forms of respect. Once we respect ourselves, it is easier to respect others.
• Your opinion means a lot to your children. If you believe your children can succeed, they will believe they can as well. Build their independence. Give them responsibilities as soon as they can handle them.
• Help them set and achieve goals. Their self-respect will skyrocket when they see themselves achieving those goals.
• Encourage honesty. Let your children know that they may be able to fool some people, but they can't fool themselves. There is no pride in stealing, cheating or lying.
• Most importantly, show love! Say “I love you" often, and give plenty of hugs and kisses. If your child makes a mistake, remind them that they are still loved.
Respect at every age
Age affects children's respect. Children and adults deserve respect at every age.
• Babies are too young to show respect, but when you meet their needs, they learn to trust you. This helps as they get older, because respect for authority is based on trust.
• Toddlers are old enough to learn to say "please" and "thank you."
• Preschoolers are a good age for learning rules and consequences.
• Elementary age children show the most respect for adults who make fair rules. It helps to let them have a say in the rules that they are expected to follow.
• Middle schoolers and high schoolers should be allowed to show independence, such as in their clothing or hairstyles, but make sure you have guidelines. They will appreciate the respect you are showing them.
© Steve McChesney
Steve and Lisa McChesney publish a daily self-esteem building and motivational newsletter. Visit them at Bully Free Kids.