More and more we are seeing children, teenagers and young adults that do not show any respect towards others; not to their teachers, not to their peers, not to authority. It is a worrying trend. As parents we need to teach them to respect others, to respect themselves, and to respect the family as a unit as well.
So how do we teach our children the value of respect?
- Model it.
Children learn first and foremost by example. No amount of telling them what to do will successfully teach them what we do not manage to do ourselves. If we do not model respect in our own behaviour towards them and towards others then we cannot expect them to behave that way. There are a lot of subtle ways to model disrespect that we may not even notice, for example, irreverent humour. Irreverent humour can be funny coming from an adult, but rarely is coming from a child and it definitely sends the wrong message regarding respect.
- Talk about it.
Use the word frequently. Point out when you are showing respect and acknowledge it when you see it in your child. Point out situations where you observe other people showing each other respect. Highlight what was gained from the situation by people being respectful towards each other and discuss what might have been an alternative outcome had one of the people chosen to be disrespectful.
- Reward it.
Praise your children when you see them behaving in a respectful way. Consider allowing extra privileges as a reward for the mature way they have behaved. This will encourage more of the same sort of behaviour.
It can be very difficult to remain calm when a child is behaving in a disrespectful way towards us but it really is important to remember to not respond in a way that is disrespectful towards the child. That simply sends the situation into a downwards spiral and reinforces bad behaviour.
Calmly point out that the child is not behaving in a respectful way and state some consequences if it continues. Choose immediate consequences if possible. If the behaviour continues then in a very calm manner impose the consequences and do not back out of them later, even if you now face escalating protest behaviour. When the consequences are over then let the original issue be over too. Do not hold a grudge. You are punishing the behaviour, not the child.
If you maintain consistent and solid boundaries then you should see a reduction in protest behaviour in time. Easier said than done when all your buttons are being pushed I know, and we won’t always get it right, but it definitely pays off to keep working at it. Try it and see.