Teaching Respect to Your Children

Written by Elizabeth Pantley

Aretha Franklin gives us parenting advice in one word:  R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Raising a considerate child means practicing what you preach.

I often encounter parents who complain about their child's lack of respect, only to turn around and screech at the same child, "Stop it! What is the matter with you? You're behaving like a wild animal!" Elizabeth Pantley, author of Kid Cooperation, says that because children learn what they live, this child shows the parent no respect. So, how can we raise respectful children?


Teach Through Actions
"Do as I say, not as I do" sounds like a fun idea, but as a parenting tool it rarely (if ever) works. You are your child's first and most important teacher. Watch how you treat, not only your kids, but also other people outside your family.


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Parenting and Communication  
"Thank you, Mrs. Pantley," can be said as a polite compliment, or with sarcasm and attitude. Teaching manners must also include not-so-obvious details, such as looking someone in the eye, using a polite tone of voice, and using real words, like "yes" instead of "uh huh."


Provide Positive and Consistent Discipline
Parents with good parenting skills will find it easier to raise respectful children. This means reading a few good books or taking a parenting class to help you maintain control of the parent-child relationship in a way that fosters respect in the family.


Be Firm but Fair
Letting kids get away with bad behavior only breeds more of the same. Make sure your kids know the rules of the family and that you discipline appropriately when rules are broken. I've heard it said that it's not the severity of a consequence that makes it effective, but the certainty of it. Firm and fair discipline is not haphazard and does not change depending on your mood. It requires a consistency that your kids can count on. (They may not like it, but they can count on it!)


Praise Good Behavior
Your praise and encouragement have a tremendous impact on your child. "Praise" messages are not all verbal, either. For example, an OK hand signal or a wink, smile or hug are actions that speak volumes to a child who has just done something right. These positive messages reinforce a child's goodness and encourage more of the same positive behavior.

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Excerpted with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. from Kid Cooperation, How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate by Elizabeth Pantley.

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