Parenting and Respect
Parents have a greater influence on their children then they often realize. Parents often think if their children are adolescents that they no longer respect them. Respect starts in your home. If you treat your children with respect they in turn will respect you and others. They will carry this value with them throughout their lives.
Children who respect themselves, take care of themselves. They are less likely to do harmful things, make good choices and have the tendency to act in ways that are in their best interest. They are happier, more successful, unselfish and considerate of others. Despite what popular culture promotes, when a parent acts like a parent you gain your child’s respect, develop a caring relationship and promote their development in a positive way.
As always the most effective way to teach children how to behave is to model that behaviour. If you want your child to respect you, then you in turn, treat them with respect. Always saying please and thank you encourages a child to do the same. When a child wants to help, accept their offer and praise them for the good behaviour. Thank them for being polite and respectful to others when you see it happening. When a child feels good about themselves they find it easier to treat others in a positive manner.
How do you show respect for your child? Discuss their feelings and beliefs and acknowledge that they are valid—for them. Respect who they are. You don’t show respect when you agree with everything they say or by letting them make all their own choices or decisions. You show respect for your child by respecting their feelings, opinions, privacy, temperament and respect for her body and personal space.
If your child does display disrespectful behaviour or is rude, don’t ignore that behaviour. Use a statement such as “we don’t talk to each other that way in this family.” Start this at any age. It is very important to catch the negative behaviour and address it immediately, but keep in mind that you must be respectful when you are correcting the behaviour. No yelling or belittling, always think about modeling behaviour.
It is important that no matter how frustrated or angry your child is you stress that it is never acceptable for them to lash out at another person. Help them express themselves by making “I feel _______” statements. If they are not able to do this, help them put their feelings into words by asking them questions like “can you tell me what is going on?” By giving your child a positive way to express their emotions you are letting them know that it is acceptable to feel a certain way, it doesn’t mean it is ok to lash out in anger at another person.
Young children are still learning how to say what they are feeling and often have outbursts when they are feeling strong emotions. When working with a young child it can take a lot of work to help them handle their feelings. It takes lots of practice. If you get upset or lose your temper remember that we all make mistakes, apologize to your child for losing your temper and urge your children to do the same. Once again you are modeling appropriate behavior with your children.
If our child doesn’t behave in the ways we expect perhaps we should consider looking at ourselves and asking ourselves am I modeling the behavior I am expecting from my child? If you can answer no honestly then we have to consider something else is causing that behaviour. Always assume that your child is a reasonable human being who wants to do well and treat them with the respect they deserve.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
– James Baldwin