How can I encourage respect in my children?

Lynne Kenney
If you wish your children to be respectful, let them see you be respectful to others as you go about your days. Respect must be a fundamental aspect of your family culture - make it an expected behavior. I can tell you with certainty that children feel secure with directives, but (and this is important) your child must understand that these directives are part of who you all are as a family. If you are confident enough to assert that, you will live with respect in your home and beyond, your children will do as you expect, and they will be proud of it. Most importantly, they will learn how important it is to carry this value into the world.

In order to create this outcome in your interactions with your children, you will need to model respect by your own actions and words:
  • If you tell your children it is respectful to use a gentle tone when talking to one another, do you also monitor your own tone?
  • If you tell your children to say “please” and “thank you” to the people with whom they interact, do they see you doing the same?

Be clear what you mean when you ask them to show respect. Do you want them to show respect to their dad? You can’t just tell them, “Be respectful to your dad,” and expect them to understand what you want of them. Your children learn what that means by watching you interact with Dad. You can even demonstrate what respect for Dad would sound like - this is a great type of modeling. For example, let them hear the sentence, “Dad, can we play ball outside now?”…instead of “Daaad, I told you to get the ball!” Guide your children, educate your children and model for your children.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.