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Teaching Kids Respect

Parenting has changed quite a bit from a hands off approach and very authoritative methods. But has it created a world of too much freedom and lack of respect amongst the kids? Are we being challenged by our children a lot more as a result? We strive to be a lot more hands on for sure our children struggle with discipline.  How does one achieve a balance where your child is growing up independently and with less boundaries yet is aware of when to stop and how to act in certain situations especially in certain settings with elders, schools, public places, etc.

Let’s state the obvious right away. Respect teaches respect so parents have to be mindful of always modeling respect.  And this includes respecting the children as well, not talking down to them or “bossing” them around non stop.  Respect is a balance of knowledge, intention, care, and reflection. If your children are unsuspectingly doing things that cause disrespectful behavior then they need to be taught otherwise. They need to OBSERVE otherwise. They need to hear you say “please”, “thank you”, “you are welcome”, see you hold the door, not interrupting others when they are speaking. This ongoing way of behaving is the easiest way for them to learn to do the same.

If they are in fact aware that what they are doing is unkind then that is most definitely disrespect. It needs to be pointed out, discussed and explained so that the situation does not keep repeating.


Teaching empathy and polite responses is not an easy task and takes a long time. It develops over time and from there it builds into more grown up behaviors especially when they become teenagers and young adults. But it definitely starts young, from toddlerhood, from that first moment you teach your 2 year old it isn’t polite to point at people for example.


And of course the praise goes along with it.  You begin praising their respectful behavior when they are little an it should not stop when they are older. It is very important for the kids to know that they have done the right respectful thing in a given situation.  While allowing them to assess the situation and to make decisions and then seeing them act the right way in the scenario is the textbook example of parenting gone right.  But it isn’t always going to happen. Most often it wont, actually. Still, refrain from scolding them, instead talk it over and ask if they can recognize what they might have done wrong.


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