Respect matters. It is a critical concept for children to understand and act upon. The first place they begin to learn about respect is in the home. They are expected to show respect to their parents from a young age, but the best way they learn how is through how their parents.
Should parents respect their children? Yes. Parents should respect their child because that’s how the child will learn to respect themselves. Parents serve as the first and most important role model for everything a child does now and later in life. The relationship a child has with their parents has a profound impact on the child’s development. Parents have the power to show their kids how to respect others and themselves.
Parents who intentionally model appropriate behavior daily for their kids are more likely to facilitate the development of well-adjusted young adults who know how and why they should treat others well.
It’s not always easy to do for a parent, but the payoff is worth it. Those who stay the course and set a high standard for personal character and behavior get rewarded later on.
Why Parents Should Show Respect to Their Child
The role and impact of the parent in a child’s life cannot be overstated. The parent will serve as the main example for the person the child ultimately become. As such, parents should be keenly aware of the impact they will have on their child’s development. Here are some of the key reasons why parents should respect their child:
- Your Voice Becomes Their Inner Voice
- Respect Creates the Basis for Your Image
- Respect Creates the Basis for Their Image
- Respect Shapes Their Internal Compass
- Other People Will Respect Your Child When They Feel Respected
- You Will Be Proud of the Person Your Child Becomes
Your Voice Becomes Their Inner Voice
Children learn how to react to situations from those around them. There is no one they learn more from than their parents.
We program them, and they learn how to react based on the input they receive from us.
Each time they spill something, break something, do something out of order, or miss a detail and receive feedback from us they internalize what they are told about the event.
Each instance is an opportunity to show kindness and grace to a child who probably did not mean to do anything wrong.
The nature of the response they receive has a high likelihood of becoming the way they talk to themselves. You are programming their inner voice.
It’s not easy to do. Sometimes you just want to get out of the house and are trying to move them along.
Other times, you have already repeated yourself multiple times and are losing your patience.
These are moments where composure and poise will serve you well. When you look back, you will see these were opportunities to build connections through example.
If you teach your child to love themselves they will be more likely to feel connected to you, and you will become a model for patience and kindness.
If you are hard on them all the time they will learn to be hard on themselves too, and they will remember where they learned that as well.
In both scenarios, the child will learn how to clean up the spilled milk. But only in one will they learn patience, grace, and kindness in the process.
Respect Creates the Basis for Your Image
People remember how you made them feel before they remember what you knew or did in life.
There is no place where this is truer than with our own children. Kids remember their emotional responses to events first. Their brains are not ready to think through every detail yet.
This is evolutions way of helping them remember whether a previous experience and the person they had it with was good or bad. Many negative experiences create a negative impression.
If your child develops a negative impression of you over time they are going to be less likely to want to follow your example, which may be detrimental to your leadership in your home.
Your ability to create a disciple depends on a positive relationship with your child.
That does not mean you have to be soft. It just means you must demonstrate respect to truly teach them its importance.
They have to live it and breathe it every day from their primary role models.
The human brain does not fully develop until age 25. They will not be capable of complete adult level reasoning until that time.
If you understand this, then you understand that how you make your kids feel is a huge factor in whether they will ultimately become one of your disciples.
They may not always comprehend the reasoning behind what you are telling them.
However, if they feel connected to you enough to trust you then they will be more likely to follow you until they figure out respect for themselves.
As they go through this process, they will hopefully be looking up to you the entire time.
Respect Creates the Basis for Their Image
The person a child looks up to (or doesn’t) will play a large role in how they view themselves.
Kids who are taught to show respect and have it modeled for them in the home develop good relationship habits and learn to treat others with respect.
Those who do not, struggle to learn how to treat others. As they go down either path, they begin to internalize the lessons of their daily habitual behaviors.
Don’t think it’s all about the big events. Small daily occurrences can have a dramatic impact on how a child views themselves.
As a child and teenager, perception is shaped much more by emotion than by logic.
Let’s say your child is not listening and won’t clean up the mess they just made.
The language you use prompting them to clean up is important. It’s OK to be firm, but you must make it about the task and not the kid.
Even if they have been going through a phase where they were not listening, you should never say something like “you never listen” or “why can’t you do what you’re supposed to do”.
Understand that if you have high expectations and strong routines in your home they probably already do the right thing most of the time anyway.
If not, revisiting how you establish and enforce expectations and routines may be worthwhile.
Instead, try using language that focuses on the task. It takes the child out of the situation and keeps the emphasis on the action and expectation.
Tell them they need to clean their mess. Remind them of what their responsibilities are and how important it is to take care of our property.
If needed, you should also remind them that a consequence is possible for noncompliance.
In the short term, this helps teach them what they need to do and how they should do it. In the long term, they learn to get done what they need to get done without thinking they are what’s wrong with the situation.
Respect Shapes Their Internal Compass
Often times, how adults treat other people is a reflection of how they treat themselves.
Teaching your child to be kind to themselves is a big step you can take to foster in them an ability to have healthy relationships with others.
Each day they will take a small step forward on their path to self-realization. You choose whether you want that path to be paved with a positive self-view or a negative self-view.
As they go through life they will determine what they prioritize as a result of what they have learned through their experiences.
If they have been taught to show respect, kindness, and empathy to themselves and others as a child they will be more likely to do so as an adult.
If their internal compass is so focused on not messing things up because they want to get it right the first time they will forget the human element that goes into all of our daily experiences and will prioritize things and actions over people and relationships.
They will not know that people matter more in life than tasks.
Other People Will Respect Your Child When They Feel Respected
You teach your child social competence every day. The habits your child acquires in your home is what they will take out into the world.
This includes respect. The most effective way to ensure they learn how to respect others is to model how it should be done in your own home.
As you do, they will learn from their experiences with you way more than they ever could learn by being told or by reading it in a book.
The impact of this strategy can be observed from both sides Take a moment to think about a day with the family where things just weren’t going well. We all have them.
Did you yell at your child? If so, how did they react? Were they upset? Did you see them start to treat others the way they had been treated? Do they have a sibling that they started yelling at in a similar manner to what they had just experienced?
I have done this. It was an eye-opening moment for me. We had a stretch that lasted a few days where our oldest was not listening and she was being disciplined and at times I yelled.
When I did I got the short-term compliance that I was after, but it came at a huge price.
Later, I noticed how she was playing with her sister. She became more aggressive.
She was bossing her around and was not acting like the child we are used to seeing. I knew it was because of my example and I had to correct course.
If you read a lot of my articles you know that I pride myself in being structured, having high expectations, and not being a pushover.
But there is a way to go about it. I will always maintain high standards in my home but I will administer them with the love and kindness that my kids deserve.
Each day that I do, I see their behavior falling in line with what they see from me.
Yes, it’s harder to take this approach. It requires way more patience and understanding. But for the parent focused on the long-game, it produces results.
Taking the patient and respectful approach is the emotionally responsible way to teach children how to interact with others.
What they learn with their parents and their siblings is what they will offer the world later in life. When they are grown and you watch how they treat others well you will look back and realize it was worth it.
You Will Be Proud of the Person They Become
As your children grow older you will see how they interact with others. You will see what they are like around their friends, significant other, and maybe even colleagues.
If you spend enough time together, you will also begin to pick up on what those other people are like too.
As you do you will begin to notice the nuances of the personalities, and how they impact others. Undoubtedly, like the rest of us, you will make your comparisons.
Will what you see make you proud? Will the person your child grew up to become represent the values that you attempted to instill in them when you were raising them?
Will you be able to look back and remember the moment you corrected course? Will you be reminded that you did the right thing?
Everyone corrects their course at some point. The best parents do it frequently.
They may not change their overarching philosophy, but they are taking in the feedback they receive from the environment around them and making better decisions about how to administer their parenting philosophy in the best way for their children.
In the end, they will be positioned best to produce well-adjusted kids.
Teaching respect is a long-term goal that should be approached with a guiding vision that shapes how you will go about teaching it to your child.
Hopefully, the vision that you have for teaching respect is built into your larger parenting philosophy.
Having a plan that you can stick to will help keep you steady in times of doubt and reassured that your approach is well thought out for your child and situation.
Deliberate and intentional parenting allows the parent to do what they think is best for their child while holding them to the high standard that they set for themselves.
Respect for self and others should be one of your top priorities as you carry out your plan.
How Do You Raise Respectful Children?
- Model the behavior you wish to see
- Your children will learn from what they see you do more than anything else. Show them what they can become by being it for them.
- Expect the behavior you wish to see
- After you show them what you want to see, have them demonstrate it to you. Make sure they are conducting themselves with a high level of character and if they slip, be there to make sure they get back up.
- Present a settled disposition
- The way you go about teaching them to be respectful is just as important as what you are teaching. It is way easier to learn how to be respectful from someone who is settled and deliberate than someone who is wound up. Be present. Keep everything else out of your mind and focus on the kids.
- Put firm boundaries in place
- Kids don’t always understand exactly what they need to do or how to do it. As the parent, you need to put boundaries in place that keep them on track as they learn respect. They may not always understand the big picture, but if they have a parent who knows how to put the right boundaries in place at the right time they can still move toward the goal.
- Be specific with your praise. If they do a good job getting all their chores done and the house is better maintained for it, let them know it. Help them see that their actions have an impact and they make a difference.
What Does Respect Look Like?
Children demonstrate respect for their parents through both words and actions.
The standards that you set in your home for respect should be the measure for how you decide if they are conducting themselves respectfully.
Kids can show respect by doing their chores, listening to their parents when given a directive, being kind to other family members, and taking care of pets.
Respect and responsibility go hand in hand and both help them work towards an appreciative mindset.
As you work to decide what respect will look like in your house, make sure you are clear and consistent with your expectations.
That’s will help your kids will get enough practice to make it a habit.