Encouraging Respect In Our Kids
“Respect” is an important word for parents. We want our kids to respect us as parents, respect all we do for them, and respect other people. We want them to respect the environment and respect other’s property. We want them to respect the rules and respect the law. It’s a tall order. So how do we go about encouraging respect in our kids?
Start by being a good role model. Using disrespectful language toward your children or your partner only encourages them to do the same. If your kids regularly hear their parent being spoken to disrespectfully, I promise you that they will do the same. They learn how to relate to others by watching adult interactions, and if one parent seems to be higher up on the family food chain, they will naturally follow suit.
Remember that actions speak louder than words. We can lecture our children about doing all sorts of things, from washing hands before dinner to not swearing to speaking kindly to others, but they learn more by observation. If it appears to them that there’s a better way to get what they want, then they’ll go that route.
Encourage your child’s self esteem. Kids who feel good about themselves naturally behave in positive and respectful ways. Emphasize the positive with your children and encourage respect by listening to them when they talk, by focusing on what they’re doing right more than what they’re doing wrong, and noticing effort and improvement more than perfection and results. Self esteem is also built through making choices and living with the consequences, so encourage your kids to take on tasks that they are capable of. High self esteem is a powerful contribution to respect – when people don’t feel threatened by the requests of others, they have no need to be rude or disrespectful.
Kids who believe that they have something important to contribute feel good about themselves. Encourage participation and contribution in whatever way is appropriate for their age and skill level. Acknowledge ways they have made your or someone else’s life a bit more pleasant. Point out how their actions have an impact on the feelings of others; it helps them learn to care about the impact they have on other people’s lives.
We can also encourage respect through the way we handle challenges and disrespect at home. Chaos and letting our kids do what they want is not respectful – to either them or us. Respectful discipline includes giving kids choice and being consistent with following through on the consequences of their choices if need be. Remember that the purpose of “discipline” is “to teach.” There doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser in these situations, if we base our discipline on teaching and respect.
Respect isn’t something that kids are born with. They learn what it means by watching the world around them and gradually becoming aware of both their feelings and those of others. Respect doesn’t just encompass how we behave toward others, it also includes respect for self. By demonstrating to our kids that they are worthy of respect themselves, they grow into the awareness of what it means to be respectful to others.
Here’s more on Teaching Our Kids Respect.
Ideas on how to help your child have great self-esteem in this article.