I keep hearing that if you want your kids to be respectful to treat them with respect. I try, but am apparently not doing a very good job, so what are some ways you can show your children respect?
I thought this was a great question and it really got my wheels turning! I've had very little problem through the years with my children treating me disrespectfully. It's not for a lack of children -- I have ten! And it's not because I don't have teenagers -- sadly, I only have two children left who are younger than 13! The rest are in their teens or twenties!
So, I began to ponder -- how have I managed to avoid this rampant, runaway problem of children disrespecting their parents?
First of all, my husband and I treat each other with respect, which I think is huge. We don't yell at each other, hit each other, belittle each other, or call each other names! We just don't! That sets the tone for the home - we are building our house on a foundation of respect!
Secondly, I've tried to monitor the influences on my children through the years, and for the most part, I've not let them watch movies or TV shows where the children treat their parents with disrespect (and get away with it), and I've steered them away from friendships with disrespectful kids.
Thirdly, we model respect for those in authority. I'm not saying that we've never pushed a speed limit, rolled through a stop sign, or participated in president-bashing, but in general we obey rules and show respect for those in authority.
Fourthly, we've taught our children what the Bible says about children respecting their parents (which, as you'll notice, includes instructions for the parents!):
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. ~ Ephesians 6:1-4
Finally, we just didn't allow disrespect. From a young age, our children were disciplined for telling us, "No!" or for hitting us. So, they learned from the beginning that this was not acceptable behavior. As they got older, they were swiftly reprimanded and/or punished for arguing with us, yelling at us, using a disrespectful tone of voice, or "backtalking." If my husband was around, and I was too tired or distracted or overwhelmed to notice a child speaking to me disrespectfully, he always stepped in and let them know in no uncertain terms that he would not tolerate them disrespecting their mother!! That is HUGE!
If your home is not built on a foundation of respect, it will be next to impossible to really instill respect in your children! So, I'd work on the foundation first. However, once you have that foundation of mutual respect in place, it's important to build a framework by teaching principles of respect and modeling respect for others. Then, you can build on your framework by treating your children with respect.
Twenty Ways to Treat Your Children with Respect:
- Show them that you value them by spending time with them.
- Value their opinions, even when they differ from your own.
- Have realistic expectations of them. (Don't expect perfection!)
- Set reasonable boundaries for behavior and enforce them consistently.
- Speak to your children in a kind, respectful tone of voice.
- Never yell (or curse) at them! (Being yelled at is very demeaning!)
- Don't call them unkind names or belittle them!
- Hold the sarcasm!
- Don't correct them in public or in front of their friends.
- Refrain from punishing them excessively, harshly or in anger.
- Avoid threats that you never back up with consequences.
- Give them a ten-minute warning before they have to clean up, go to bed, come inside, go home, etc., so they can prepare themselves mentally.
- When possible, allow them to finish a game, a chapter in a book, or a TV show before coming to complete a chore for you (unless it was something they left uncompleted and you're teaching them responsibility).
- Treat their possessions with respect - don't throw away their "treasures" or sell their favorite toys on EBay when they aren't looking.
- Show respect for their creations - don't make fun of their drawings or throw away their artwork. (At least let some time pass and do it inconspicuously!) And don't smash their Lego creations that took them hours to build!
- Don't make fun of their childish hurts and disappointments; instead, enter into their hurts and treat them with sympathy and compassion.
- Praise them and believe in them.
- Don't squash their dreams.
- Forgive; show grace; allow do-overs.
- Make them feel a valuable part of the family, with opinions that count, gifts and abilities that matter, and responsibilities that the family counts on to be completed.
In short, put yourself in their place and treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were them. That's respect in a nutshell.