Aretha Franklin knows what it’s all about! As parents, all we want is a little respect.
But wanting respect and getting it are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum. Like all good habits and values, respect is a learned trait. The longer you wait to teach and show respect to your child, the harder it will be to get it from them.
Here’s a few tips you can start working on to teach your child to learn respect:
- Stand Firm. It’s sometimes a little too easy to threaten, but not follow through with consequences to try to change our child’s behavior. If you give in during a tantrum or let them treat you disrespectfully, they’ll learn this is okay (and it’s not). Stand firm and follow-through on your commands.
- Choose Words Carefully. We know kids are little sponges. How you speak to them is how they’ll speak to you and others. Teach them the proper (respectful) way to talk by leading by example. They don’t understand what “disrespectful” means, so if they are misbehaving, don’t only tell them, “That’s disrespectful.” Tell them why, such as, “Those are not the words we use to talk to people. We treat others with respect. Please think about what words you used and why we don’t use those.”
- Respect Your Spouse. Your relationship with your spouse or significant other sets the family tone. Showing love and respect for each other sends a clear signal to children of the right way to behave and how to show respect.
- Set Expectations. Children will rise to the occasion if expectations are in place. Set expectations for situations so they know how they are to behave. Make sure these are clearly stated beforehand.
- Acknowledge Respect. Especially for younger children who are still learning what respect is (and good reinforcement for older children), make sure you acknowledge when they are being respectful and disrespectful to others so they can understand the difference.
TKD Tip: Your child is not your friend. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but you are a parent first. Your job is to prepare them to function in the real world through teaching and coaching. You’re doing them a disservice by letting them get away with things and not setting boundaries. Your relationship will evolve as they get older, but it’s important to remember this now.
Parent/Child Activity: Role-play scenarios with your child in which you are showing respect or disrespect and ask them to identify which is which. Ask them to also tell you what is either respectful or disrespectful about those scenarios.