Respect is one of the most important qualities we can teach our children. Learning respect for themselves, for their parents, and for others will equip them to stand out in a world where those qualities are quickly being lost. It is an action that shows that you value another person as you do yourself.
As parents, we all want our children to respect us. When many people were growing up, respect was demanded simply because of the perceived roles of adults and children. What many parents are realizing now is that respect must be earned rather than demanded, and that it goes both ways. So what should a parent do when they want respect from their child?
Respect Your Child
Above all, respect and value the precious children who are in your care. Our children know when they are valued and when they aren’t. If you are demanding respect but treating your child poorly or provoking them in ways that causes them to become angry, expect the same from them. Let your child know through your words and actions that you respect them and set the example. This will build your relationship and show them the proper actions to follow.
Surround Them with Good Role Models
If you are talking to your child about respect, but your friends are tearing other people down when you have a conversation, your child will observe the lack of respect and learn that this is the way to treat others. Be wise about the people you spend most of your time with and decide whether the way they treat people is the way you want your child to treat others.
This also applies to movie and television characters. Children are quite impressionable, and many parents have observed a decline in their child’s behavior after they begin to mimic a favorite television character. As adults, we find it easier to separate fact from fiction, but we need to be choosy about the examples we are placing in front of our children, because they most likely will be imitated.
Practice What You Preach
Nothing invites a lack of respect like hypocrisy. Be authentic, and true to what you are communicating to your children. If you insist that your child eats only healthy foods but you must have your daily candy bar – that is hypocrisy. If you tell them that their game console is bad for them but you spend every waking moment on your smart phone, that is hypocrisy. If you tell them to be kind to everyone but you treat others with contempt, that is hypocrisy.
Live a life that you are proud to share with your child and that makes you pleased when they follow your example. Your child will naturally have respect when you practice what you preach.
Discuss the Topic with Your Child
Take the time to sit down and have a talk with your child about respect and what it means. Discuss what it means to show esteem for the people you are surrounded by. Sometimes a concept slips by a child and they need a simple explanation of the issue.
Respect is one of the most talked-about qualities, and indeed one of the most important ones. Use the above ideas to live out the idea of respect, and be your child’s role model in this area. It is worth the effort and you can be confident that in turn, your child will likely show you the respect you have exampled.