Respect is something that we all want from each other. In our home, we want family members to show respect for each other, and we want our children to be respectful of others outside of the home. With media and peer influence that often depict violence and disrespect as humorous and desirable, parents may have difficulty instilling a respectful attitude in their children. Here are some tips to help create an atmosphere of respect that will encourage your child to respect others, you, and him or herself.
Show respect for your kids. Often children act out as a way to be seen and heard. If you notice and acknowledge them in a positive way first; this will allow them to feel their importance, and acting out won’t be necessary.
- Offer praise whether they succeed or fail. Reassure them that they are good and valued.
- Ask your child’s opinion, and allow them to make some decisions that affect their life or the family in some way.
Model self-respect. When you show your child that you have respect for yourself, and that your behavior follows your own values, your child will be more likely to follow in your footsteps.
- Talk to your child about decisions that you have made based on your values.
- Talk about the challenges you have faced, and how your choices affect you now (good and bad).
Use respectful language with your child and with others. When your child sees you being respectful of others in your home and in your community, your child will learn through your example.
- Acknowledge others politely. Recognize others’ feelings and needs, and explain to your child that you understand how others usually have good reason for what they do, even if you disagree.
- Talk to your child about times when it may be difficult to show respect for others. Explain the times when you have been successful in showing respect anyway, and how you did so.
Don’t use fear and control to insist on obedience. Sometimes parents forget that obedience is not the same as respect. A child may outwardly obey, but inwardly resent their situation, feeling shame, fear, or frustration about their lack of freedom of choice. Children tend to fear those who insist on controlling them, and respect those who see them as individuals worthy of dignity.
- Explain to your child that your rules and discipline are meant to protect and/or support your child’s health, safety, and future. Let these rules and explanations grow and change as your child grows and changes.
- Don’t demand respect, but allow respect to grow through your honest and caring relationship with your child.
Sue Wilhelm, MAC, PLPC
Violence Prevention Specialist