I have five kids ranging in age from 4 to 16. I have kids at different developmental stages. Each child is different and needs different things taught to them at different times in their lives. But how to show RESPECT is an on going lesson in our home. I think for the most part, my kids are pretty respectful. I’ve been told by other people that my kids are respectful, so I think I might be doing something right. Do my kids always show respect? NO! Which is why it’s an on going lesson. But here are some of the things I do to help my kids understand why they need to show respect and then how to show respect.
First . . . It’s important to remember that your child is your child. You are the parent. You are not trying to be your child’s friend. Your job is to teach him to be able to function in the world. This is why we correct bad behavior and teach them a better way.
Have you noticed that kids are much more disrespectful these days? I hear some kids saying things to their parents that I would never have said to my parents when I was a kid. I wait for the parent to correct their child, and most of the time, it never happens. Have we become scared of our kids? Are we scared to make them sad or mad? If we coddle our kids, they will not know how to live in the world when they venture out on their own. Now days we see children and teens arguing with adults, ignoring them, using crude language, and showing an attitude. I’m scared to think that this type of behavior is normal these days. If you listen to movies and music now days you can hear and watch how society has a big role in our kids showing disrespect. I was listening to a song on the way home from dropping my son off at school and the lyrics were, “Don’t tell your mom” (referencing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing). I wanted to write a letter to the artist pleading with them to stop encouraging their fans to disrespect their families! Another problem I think is that parents are less and less involved in their children’s lives. So parents are not able to respond to misbehavior right away. As parents we need to be on top of it and not let that type of behavior slide.
The Why . . . Treating elders with respect can result in making valuable connections. Kids can develop a relationship with their elders which will help them learn where they came from. When kids have a real relationship with their elders they gain a different perspective on life. When a child respects his elders, he values their opinion. When kids hear stories from their elders it helps them cope with things they are going through in their own lives. It helps them understand that as difficult as a problem might seem today, odds are it won’t feel like that even a year from now. Learning how to hold respectful conversations with elders help children and teens develop important social skills. For instance, when a teen goes to his first job interview, he will need to learn how to speak respectfully to their interviewer. The more respectful conversations they have with their elders, the better they will be at interviewing. Other important social skills include learning to accept and value people with different opinions, to accept direction, and to listen and evaluate other points of view.
The How . . .
- Make a plan with your spouse. If you have a significant other, it’s so important to be on the same page. If you are not together on this topic it will not work. If you are all together and your husband hears one of your kids disrespecting you, he should speak up so your child knows that you’ve got each others backs and vice versa. If a child is hearing different things from each parent, they will get confused and become more disrespectful and start turning you against each other.
- Stop it in its tracks. Right when you notice disrespectful behavior, STOP and address it. Use a calm voice and help the child understand that that type of behavior in not acceptable. Give them ideas on how they can react better. Give them phrases they can use instead of what they said. My son will always say things like “Mom, give me ice cream now!” So I stop him and say, “No, that wasn’t a nice way of asking me. Instead you can say ‘Mom, can I please have Ice Cream now?'”
- Set realistic expectations. Like I said earlier, every child is different. You may have to lower your expectations a little until you can get that child on track. Don’t put a child with certain triggers in an environment that will trigger disrespectful behavior. If your child has problems in large groups, don’t go to a large party. They will act up.
- Set realistic consequences. Grounding a child for a week because he talks back is a little harsh. Make sure your consequences match the behavior.
- Discuss the situation and listen. If your child is disrespectful or rude, talk about what happened and discuss what they could change that could make it better. Then ask your child what’s going on. Why they are acting frustrated. This is when you need to really listen and read between the lines. See if there is something that your child is missing. If they need more one on one time with you, they need some time alone, whatever it may be. Then help them work through their frustrations.
It’s not too late to start even if you have older kids. You need to sit down with your child and talk to them about their behavior. They need to know that from now on, disrespectful behavior will not be acceptable.
Children crave order. They thrive on schedules. They love feeling the security of knowing what they can and can not get away with. They will test your limits to the line, but we as parents can be the guiding light that helps our kids develop the best possible social skills to make them successful in this life.
The message that your children get when you step in and set rules is that they’re loved, you care about them, want them to be successful and able to succeed in the world.