I am not done raising my kids by any stretch of the imagination. I still hope and pray the values my husband and I are instilling in them will stick for life. One thing I know…so far strangers and friends constantly comment positively on our boy’s (ages 12, 10, and 3) behavior how respectful they are.
You know…as a parent this is probably the best compliment you can get! I truly believe they will continue to be that way. This is because my husband and I lean on God daily for wisdom on how to parent each of the boys individually. At the same time we are constantly praying for wisdom. There are some tips the Lord has shown us to be helpful for raising respectful boys. I hope they will help you in raising respectful children also.
Raising Respectful Kids
1. Teach manners early.
Since they could barely talk, we taught them to say “Please” and “Thank You” in every situation. Be annoyingly repetitive about this. It will become a habit and natural for them, and not something you have to continuously teach.
2. No Interruptions.
I have been in many situations where I am talking to another adult, and their child comes up to talk to them. The adult completely cut-off our conversation to respond to their child. This is inconsiderate to your friends and it’s teaching your child that it is O.K. to demand your attention at ALL times. There are lessons you can teach them about “everything” NOT being about them, and being considerate of others at even young ages. When you teach these lessons at young ages, they are easier to reinforce at older ages.
I taught my kids to say “Excuse Me” when they were young, if I was talking with another adult. In the toddler years, this takes patience, and some frustration, but if you stay consistent, you will reap the benefits.
3. Discipline Disrespect.
There should be some form of consequences in your home for negative behavior and disrespect. For many children, these behaviors consists of yelling at you, saying disrespectful comments, acting out, throwing fits every time they are frustrated, throwing an item, hitting, and the list goes on.
If there is not a negative consequence for disrespect in your home, there is no reason for your child to not continue the behavior. If all they get is a long explanation of why their behavior is wrong or a passive “NO”, you will not get good results. Consequences for bad behavior should be things like: time-out, nose in the corner, no TV, no favorite toys, early bedtime, and spanking.
The key to is be CONSISTENT. I do not talk my kids to death (lol)…it just isn’t effective. Instead, I say something like “It is not OK for you to talk to me like that or act like that, you will now have this consequence because of your actions.” Cue the water works that follow…(lol) Stick with it and they will realize…”this IS unacceptable behavior”, and “I will not get away with this”. More importantly, “I will always have a negative experience connected with this behavior”.
4. Teach them to go the extra mile.
For my boys, we are teaching them early to hold the door open for women and for strangers. When they were very, very young and the door was too heavy, we would help them do this. However, this applies for girls too. I don’t know how many times I was walking into Target and a kid just let the door hit my face! LOL.
So, we re-enforce this at their young ages. We want them to not just think about themselves getting through the door, but help others out. If you see someone dropped their stuff, don’t just stare…. let’s go help them pick it up. These are great lessons that help shape their thought process and actions in the future.
5. Model the behavior.
My husband and I make sure we use manners and kindness as much as possible in front of the kids. It doesn’t take long for kids to realize “you aren’t doing it..why should I?”. It can be hard to remember to do these things in our relationships and marriages, but it makes all the difference. They see this is the “norm” not something extra special they should be rewarded for, but how you “should” act on a daily basis. We also look for ways to do this in public, being an example for them.
6. Praise them.
This goes for the initial stage when you are trying to teach the behaviors. For my 3-year-old, I am constantly praising the positive behavior. He is so proud of himself for being kind, respectful, and making the right choices.
Just like there are negative consequences for bad behavior, there should be positive ones for good behavior. Positive reinforcement is extremely powerful in childhood.
Especially when a child has a healthy balance of discipline and love in their lives, positive reinforcement has a greater impact.
As they get older, we tell our boys ” We are so proud of you guys, and how respectful and well-behaved you are” on a regular basis. At this point, they realize this is an expectation also. They have been taught these lessons for years, and even though we notice and encourage it, they know this is how they should be acting.
7. Be patient but not passive.
Teaching respect requires a lot of patience. This does not come natural to anyone, nevertheless..kids. You have to teach it constantly and consistently. Showing patience through the frustration as they are learning something that doesn’t come natural is important. We are all born in sin, and negative tendencies do not have to be taught. Doing the right thing, and making positive choices does.
However, this does not translate to being passive. Being passive would consist of not having clear consequences for disrespect, not acknowledging it immediately even when inconvenient. This will pay off, just stick to it!
8. Pray specifically about it.
We pray daily for our children. We pray God will show us how to specifically teach each child how to live a life more glorifying to Him. We pray He will guide us on what consequences to use, what to say, and how to inspire our children to be a light in this world.
He is faithful to answer our prayers every single time.
James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.“
John 14:14 says “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
We know these prayers glorify Him and He will guide us. This is the most powerful thing you can do.
9. Monitor T.V
We have realized our kids would start acting like what they were watching on T.V. and movies. There are many cartoons and “kid-shows” I initially thought were super innocent. However, when I sat down to watch them, the child characters were constantly disrespectful to their parents. My boys thought this was acceptable because they were constantly watching it, and were quoting it. Having awareness of the shows impacting your kids is important to reinforcing positive values.
10. Being careful of friendships.
Each one of my boys has picked up behaviors or habits from their peers at one point or another. It’s impossible to get around this, especially in the younger ages when they are still trying to understand what is acceptable and what is not. My 3-year old literally can list-off to me which friends of his “don’t listen to their mommies”, are “mean” or don’t share.”
They are aware.
Some of my close friends parent completely different than me and allow more disrespect according to me. These differences should have no impact on our friendships. At the same time, if your child begins to pick up these behaviors…address it right away. You may just have to monitor how often they play together until your child can get a better handle on what behavior is appropriate.
An important point I want to make is it’s never too late to start. There are many lessons in parenting I’ve learned, even when my kids were older. I started enforcing them when I learned them, regardless of our boys ages .
When you know better, you do better.
It may be a change for your kids based on how things have previously ran in your household. They will thank you in the end. Teaching respect opens up many doors in their futures and lessens the conflict they will need to manage.
We are all doing the best we can. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t considered these things in parenting…start today! I have some areas where I need to grow in being consistent with my kids also, but we can do this! We all love our kids and want them to be the best possible versions of themselves. As parents, we have the incredible responsibility of helping mold and guide them through these younger years! Keep your hope in God and look to Him for guidance!
I would love to hear if you have any other tips for teaching respect in the comments below!
For more tips on parenting, check out “How to raise grateful children.”