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Parenting Help: How Can You Teach Children Respect?

posted: 03/29/16
by: Katie Morton
Girl Having Arguement With Mother At Candy Counter In Supermarke
iStock

As a parent, one of your most important roles is that of teacher. Each day you're teaching your children social cues, manners, and ways to interact with their world and others. One of the most important values you can cultivate in your young children is respect. By teaching your children how to be respectful, you're also teaching empathy, compassion, and kindness.

But it's not always easy to teach kids the value of respect and the proper ways to show respect. Read on for our pro tips about teaching young children about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

1. Walk the walk

Arguably the single most important thing you can do to teach your child respect is to be respectful yourself. Modeling parents' behavior is one of the most impactful ways children learn values and behaviors. If you demonstrate that you're respectful, your child will follow suit. So that means not yelling at drives who cut you off, keeping your cool while dealing with rude people, and keeping gossip to a minimum.

2. Manners matter

Start with "please" and "thank you." Even the youngest child can be taught to say these key words. You're teaching them that it's important to recognize others.

It's OK to cue your children and remind them when to say these magic words.

3. Prepare them ahead of time

Your child is never too young to learn that certain social situations require certain behaviors. If you're headed out to dinner, you can teach them how to speak in an indoor voice and how to use silverware instead of fingers.

Before you go out, set clear boundaries. Explain clearly what you expect from them, and they'll be more likely to understand what you're asking of them. For example, "In a restaurant, we sit at the table. You'll need to sit in your chair and not run around. If you run around, we'll need to leave."

Remember though, they're just learning. So if your child needs to be removed from the restaurant because they're screaming or running around, then do so (that's showing respect for your fellow diners!).

4. Don't allow rude words

Young children that are just mastering language skills should be taught that's its never acceptable to call other people names. Words can hurt, and your child can start to grasp this early on.

Teach your child that it's OK to feel annoyed or anger, but that it's not acceptable to yell or call people names. Try to direct them toward using "I" statements -- "I feel angry at Avery" rather than "Avery's a poo-poo head!" See the difference?

Like we mentioned above, this also starts with you. So even if your neighbor is being a real pain the neck, watch your words around little ones and be sure to use the same tricks you're tryin to teach them.

5. Nip mini tantrums in the bud

Eye-rolling at parents or talking back shouldn't be tolerated. Explain this is rude, have consequences, and then follow through so your child knows that they must treat their family with respect, too.

6. Reciprocate

Life lessons go both ways. Show your child that you respect them, too. Listen to what they have to say, say "please" and "thank you" to them, and acknowledge when they're being especially polite to you.

Your children will feel like you value them as people, and that's an important life lesson, too.

For some more tips on how to teach your young child this crucial value, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby and Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids by Sura Hart and Vitoria Kindle Hodson are two great books on the topic.