Raising respectful children is a goal for every parent. We begin to teach them to respect by demanding they respect us or forcing them to show respect to others. But, I have to wonder. Is that really the best way to start teaching respect? Do children learn to respect when we demand they respect us? When we force them to respect others in their speech and actions? I do believe it important that our children respect us and respect others. But, that may not be the best place to start teaching them respect. In fact, children learn more from watching us than from following our demands. They learn more from how we treat them than they learn from how we tell them to treat others. They watch us closely and model our behavior. They learn how to treat others by experiencing how we treat them. When we treat our children with respect, they are much more likely to treat us and others with respect. So, to teach our children respectful behavior, the best place to begin is by treating our children with respect. Unfortunately, I fear we often neglect to respect our children. Disrespect creeps into our interactions through impatience, preoccupation, or fear of failure. Think about these ways of respecting our children and do a little self-examination. Consider each bullet and think about how well you respect your children in the way stated.
- Respect your children’s competence enough to let your children do tasks around the house.
- Respect your children’s ability to problem-solve and discover creative solutions rather than jumping in to solve every problem they encounter.
- Respect your children’s age appropriate independence. Let them complete age appropriate tasks alone.
- Respect your children by establishing and enforcing clear limits. Make these limits firm, but enforce them politely and respectfully rather than harshly.
- Respect your children’s willingness to cooperate and accept their help…with a smile and a “thank you.”
- Respect your children enough to state directly what you desire rather than trying to manipulate them with false choices and questions.
- Respect your children’s need for predictability by establishing daily routines.
- Respect your children’s ability to learn by not rescuing them. Let them experience the consequences of their own behaviors, both positive and negative.
- Respect your children’s dignity by never calling them demeaning names or making comments that degrade them directly or indirectly.
- Respect your children’s uniqueness by nurturing their individual talents and interests. Be excited about their progress and their interests.
- Respect your children’s ideas and opinions enough to listen, even when they disagree with you. Respect their ideas enough to let them influence your decisions and actions.
- Respect your children’s intelligence by letting them answer questions asked of them. You don’t need to answer for them or volunteer them for some activity. Respect allows them to answer for themselves.
- Respect your children’s feelings by allowing them to express a full range of emotions and teach them to do so in an appropriate manner.
- Respect your children enough to listen intently and fully.
Well, how did you do? Are you respecting your children? I’m sure we can all improve…I know I can. Still, treating children with respect is the place we begin teaching them to respect others. Children who are respected by family become respectful. Start respecting children today and they will become more respectful tomorrow.