R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Do Your Kids Have It

The bad news: Respectful behavior in children is slowly becoming extinct. 
The good news: We can teach our children to be respectful. And along the way, teach them to be considerate, kind and honest. 


1. Be Good Role Models
We can't be disrespectful. Children will primarily do what they see us as parents do.
We need to model the behavior we want to see in our children. Respect our belongings, listen with full attention, be open minded and be patient with others.

2. Respect Belongings
Dont let children disrespect belongings.
Be cautious with the amount of toys and things we give our kids. Too many things and they will not only loose interest, but the less they will appreciate each item.
When kids disrespect their toys, rushing out and replacing them is not the best solution. Explain to your children they have one doll. They need to take care of it or they won't have a doll any more.
Discuss the worth of things. When our 2 year old rips up her sisters art work, instead of reprimanding, I need to explain to her that she spent a lot of time making it and it is special to her. It hurts her feelings when she rips it up.
Make the rules clear. When my girls want to smell my perfumes, they know I have to get them out, they have to be sitting down to hold them, and they can't push the buttons. It teaches them to respect my belongings.

3. Don't Tolerate Rudeness
When we allow our children to back talk, talk bratty and be rude, we lead them to believe it's okay to sass us and other people too. As parents we need to respond to this behavior. We need to make it clear that no matter how frustrated or annoyed our children may be, it is never okay to speak to other people in those tones.
Encourage your kids to express their feelings, using statements that start with "I". "I feel mad", "I feel frustrated". Encourage them to put their feelings into words by asking them questions. When our son is making sarcastic comments I find myself saying, "You seem upset, let's talk about it". When our daughter is hollering at her brother I could say, "You sound really mad to me, can you tell me what is going on?" It will take time for your kids to learn to express their emotions instead of being rude, but it will work. When they slip up, teach them the importance of saying "I am sorry."

4. Teach Your Children to Listen
One of the most fundamental ways to show respect to other people is to listen to them. That means giving them our time and attention. Don't let your kids watch television while you are trying to talk to them., or keep their head down in their books or looking at the floor.
Remove distractions by turning off the T.V and putting down what they are doing. Expect them to look you in the eye and give you their attention. This means we have to do the same when our children are talking to us. Another key concept to teach, wait your turn to talk and don't interrupt others when they are talking. Wow, are we always working on this in our home. Especially when my husband and I are talking. We have had to work really hard to teach our kids to wait until we are done talking, then it is their turn.

5. Demand Good Manners
Don't let children think that manners are temporary or optional.
Expect good manners in all situations. Gently remind children, starting very young, to say "please" and "thank you". When you are going somewhere, be sure you remind them what you expect in the upcoming situation and how they should act. It will take constant cues on your part, soon it will become natural and your children will remember on their own. Make it clear that bad manners will not be tolerated and be sure you enforce the consequences. Even if it means leaving the restaurant or get-together. When good manners are demonstrated, make sure there is lots of praise. Not just "good job, but explain to your children why the good manners are important and what their respect means to the people around them.

6. Encourage Your Children to be Open Minded
Treating others with respect means that we take some time to get to know them and understand them. This is a principle we have to teach our children. They might not like all the other kids, but they need to give them all a chance.
Encouraging your children to get to know someone new and find out what they have in common. If after time they conclude they have nothing in common, teach them that they still deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. We have had to do this with our daughter last year. She tends to cling to one or two girls and has a tough time giving other classmates a chance. Her challenge was to play with a new person in her class every week. It made a huge difference. She is now much more accepting and open minded to all people.

7. Diversity is Okay
Children are very quick to point out differences. Every one of our children has embarrassed the heck of me at least once in a public place when they have pointed out someone who looks different. My first reaction is to quickly shush them.
We need to explain that we are all different and that is a good thing, not bad. When you encounter new people, explain that there are differences AND similarities. We don't have to forgo our values. There are choices that other people make that are not acceptable in our home. That is fine, but that doesn't mean that we are rude or judgmental. To raise children who accept diversity we have to expose our children to different cultures and traditions. Start by letting them try different foods and learning about different cultures.

8. Rules Matter
Don't allow children to do what ever they want.
Set boundaries so your children learn that the world doesn't revolve around them and it teaches them to respect authority. This is a skill they need at home and will need at school and in the real world.
Set the rules.
Talk about why they matter.
Explain the consequences for breaking the rules.
Be strong enough to follow through with the consequences.




  1. What a great post! Kids today don't have any respect. If they do it's very little at all. I'm in the school a lot and you see it. The total lack of respect. Especially at the high school level. I think it starts at home.

  2. It's so hard for me to talk to dh without kids interrupting. I'm hoping one day all the reminders to wait till we're done will work.
    Thanks for the post. I needed it

  3. This is a good one! My husband and I constantly battle with the kids about interrupting us while we are talking. Our conversation starts and two seconds in all we can hear is "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" It will take a lot of work, I am sure!

  4. My sister and I were just talking about this, about how we have to treat our kids with respect so that they can learn it. It's harder than you might think. But we had a FHE about it Monday night and so far, it's helping.

  5. Great post, Heather. And Emily, I love the idea of a manners FHE. My kids are pretty good, but they haven't gone to school yet. I am hoping to make the good habits strong enough that the bad habits they pick up will be easier to correct. Maybe that is naive.

  6. Ugh, I'm struggling with teaching my daughter respect. She's 4 now and used to be so polite and well-behaved. Now she's becoming a little terror and I'm trying to teach her to behave better. Thank you for the great tips!

  7. Very very very wise! Thank you.

  8. great post ..........very wise, thanks for sharing this


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