When children are born, they are born without much knowledge about the world, or social constructs, aside from what is instinctual. It can be easy to forget this sometimes, leading us to assume that respect is something that is engrained in kids, but that simply isn’t the case.
Respect is taught, and it takes time and the proper methods to instill respect into children. And while you may believe you are one and done, it may take years of continued work to get your child on the right track. As a parent, it can be frustrating when your child is disrespectful, making it hard to maintain your composure. However, the last thing you want to do is lose your cool, because that will inevitably cause an even deeper disconnect.
So what are the best methods for teaching your children respect? Here are 6 effective ways to teach your child respect, without losing your self-respect.
1. Confront disrespect head-on.
The moment something disrespectful happens, confront it. Do not let it continue. It’s important to do this calmly. For example, your child may come in after school demanding a snack, rather than politely asking for one. When they do, correct them by saying their sentence again, but as a respectful question.
2. Teach your child basic manners.
This may seem like an old-fashioned thing to say (which is extremely unfortunate) but manners still matter. Teaching your child how to say thank you when someone does something for them, or please when they want something, is extremely important.
3. Be respectful, while confronting the disrespect.
When you confront your child, be respectful. It’s extremely counterproductive to be disrespectful to them while trying to teach them about respect. Kids often repeat how they are treated, not just what they are taught.
4. Set clear & realistic expectations for your child’s behavior.
Make your expectations clear to your child. And not only do the limitations and expectations need to be clear, but they also need to be realistic for their age and experience. You cannot expect a 12-month-old to know to say thank you each time they should. It takes time.
5. Discuss disrespect whenever there’s an opportunity.
Don’t just wait for them to be disrespectful to teach your kids about respect. If you see a moment in which someone is being extremely respectful or disrespectful, say “Look how respectful that young boy is being by saying thank you, isn’t that good?” Or vice versa.
6. Identify what is causing the disrespect.
There may be an underlying reason for why your child is suddenly being more disrespectful than usual. For example, if they have been respectful to you for a long time, and meet a new friend, and suddenly they begin acting in ways that aren’t usual for them, it may be time to confront the situation and explain why their behavior is unacceptable.