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It’s so important to build a good foundation of respect and discipline with your kids. When you think about it respect is one quality you want your kids to have; for their elders, peers at school, colleagues, friends, family, and strangers.
You don’t have to be strict or overbearing when teaching your kids respect. There are many positive ways to help them grow into respectful adult’s who treat other’s with kindness by modeling good behaviors, encouraging empathy, and doing simple acts of kindness!
It’s good for kids to grow with a general respect not only for elders but for all the people around them. Read on for amazing tips to teach respect and kindness to your kids.
- Explaining Respect to Kids
- How do I teach my child to show respect?
- How do you discipline a defiant child?
- Related Parenting Content
Explaining Respect to Kids
Respect is actually really easy to explain to kids. Give some examples about how you treat others or how they would want to be treated in certain situations.
Explain that respect is something that everyone wants to have and something we should show to everyone regardless of what they look like. It’s important they understand that we need to be respectful of everybody.
How do I teach my child to show respect?
There are a number of ways to teach your child respect without getting angry.
Teaching your child respect in a positive way will help you earn their respect and grow into respectful adults.
1. Model Respectful Behavior
Chances are your kids are watching every move you make. This is a great jumping off point for teaching your kids respect!
This can start from a young age. Even babies and toddlers are observant of how you interact with others, including your spouse and their siblings.
They see how we show respect in certain situations too. Not talking in the movies or at church and showing respect during the national anthem.
Children learn from observing and imitating the people around them, so as a parent, it’s important to model kindness in your daily actions and interactions with others.
Show your kids when you are out and about that you listen to rules at the store and other businesses (wearing a shirt and shoes, standing in line).
Showing respect to our belongings and pets is also great to model in front of our kids.
Teach them that we show respect to all people regardless of their skin color, age, or gender. Treat people with kindness and respect when you are out and about, especially in the presence of your children!
Speak in a positive tone of voice around your kids and use words you would want them using. They will learn from you and follow your example.
2. Positive Reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement can work wonders for certain kids. Things as small as a sticker chart, treasure box with prizes, or verbal praise.
Saying things like “I know you’re feeling angry, but I love how you’re handling this situation.” is a small way to offer praise and positive encouragement when your child is feeling upset or angry.
Give them praise when you are traveling or out and about. If you notice them say please or thank you, help out, or do something kind offer verbal praise. “Hey I really appreciated you helping out with the groceries without being asked.”
Giving positive reinforcement for being respectful makes kids more likely to repeat their positive behavior in the future.
Some kids might respond better to positive reinforcement than others. But, it’s still good to offer to give your kids a confidence boost at hearing that they were doing the right thing.
3. Respect Your Kids
Your kids shouldn’t be the only ones giving respect. They should get it in return.
Make it a point to respect your child’s personal space and belongings. There may be time when they are upset and need room to cool off and gather their thoughts.
Don’t use negativity, yelling, or cursing in an effort to get your kids to respect you.
Make sure you always use a respectful tone and words with your child. So, they can respect you for having patience and kindness.
If you are doing what you need to do as a parent to earn your child’s respect you can then expect the same respect and understanding.
4. Have High Expectations
Having high expectations of our kids let’s them know you have confidence in their ability to be kind and respectful.
Our kids can tell if we expect them to succeed or to fail. They want to make us proud and will naturally do better if they know we expect them to do their best.
Let them know regularly that you are proud of the good decisions they make. Also, let them know that you know they are smart and will know how to show respect and kindness to others at all times.
Give them the confidence they need to meet those expectations.
5. Talk About Respect
Have a family meeting to talk to your kids about the different ways they can show respect at home, at school, on a vacation. Ask questions and discuss different situations they may come across.
Here are some questions you can ask:
- How can you show respect in your class at at school?
- How are you respectful to friends at school?
- How can you show your siblings respect at home?
- How can you be respectful during a movie at a theater?
- How can we show respect at church?
Set some simple family goals to show respect by doing random acts of kindness to ___ number of people per week or doing volunteer work to show respect for their community.
Asking these questions every so often reminds kids to be aware of their behavior in different settings.
6. Respect is Inclusive!
It’s important that we teach our kids that respect is inclusive. Meaning we need to be kind to all and show every person and animal respect.
Teaching our kids early on that kindness and respect must be shown to all is important. Make sure they understand that respect should always be shown to everyone including: the elderly, people with disabilities, different skin colors, religious backgrounds, genders, hair color, opinions, etc!
I strongly believe there are age appropriate ways to teach this, even to younger children. Start with this list of picture books about diversity!
Don’t forget to stress the importance of respect and kindness towards animals as well. Being gentle, kind, and respectful of all species of animals and pets at home.
I just had to have this talk with my 2 and 5 year old about a bird that was nesting outside. We talked about how to be respectful of her nest and babies so she could feel safe and take care of them.
7. Post a Reminder At Home
Put up a reminder of ways to be respectful at home that your kids can see.
This way they are always being reminded that showing respect is important.
You can put this on the fridge, in the bathroom, in their bedroom. Just a high traffic area where they will always see it.
Here is a printable list of ways to be respectful at home for you to use.
8. Read a Book About Being Respectful
I love reinforcing good values in my kids through books. Here are some of my favorite books that reinforce respect for young kids.
The Grouchy Ladybug By Eric Carle
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse By Kevin Henkes
Do Unto Otters By Laurie Keller
You could also read parenting books about teaching kids kindness!
9. Do a Volunteer Project Together
Teach your kids respect for others and their community by doing a volunteer project together. This can be as simple as picking up trash at the local park.
You could go as a family and fill up a bag of trash, then go out to ice cream or do another family activity afterwards.
Not only will this teach them to respect the environment/community they live in, it’s also a great way to get some family bonding time in!
10. Practice Gratitude
Encouraging your kids to express gratitude for what they have and for the people in their lives helps foster a positive outlook and kind heart.
How do you discipline a defiant child?
If your child is being defiant there is probably a reason why they are acting out.
Follow the steps above. Be patient and loving and the respect will grow.
If your child is persistently defiant you may want to see a physician or psychiatrist to make sure there isn’t anything else going on.
Do you have any ideas about how to teach kids respect in a positive way? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!
Related Parenting Content
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Love this! My little Liam is only 2 months old but I always think about how one day he will need to know these things. I’m so worried about failing to teach my kids about respect for one another and these are some great tips I will certainly use!
This is a great article. We are struggling with this in our household at the moment. I really like the comment about modeling for you kids. People yell at their kids and then get upset when their kids yell. I always think…”don’t yell and maybe they won’t either.” Great article!
Hi Kimberly! I couldn’t agree more. Our kids are watching everything we do and say, if they hear us yelling then who is to blame if they do the same. We are the biggest role models. :)
Thank you for posting these suggestions. All of them are wonderful. As a retired kindergarten teacher, I know that the earlier parents start teaching their children respect, the easier it will be for their children to do. This is so important!!!
Hi Becky! Thanks for your comment, I completely agree. It’s amazing how kids learn. Our toddler watches everything we do and is already learning to be kind and respectful in little ways like sharing. Modeling these behaviors early for your little ones has a big impact. :)
These are great suggestions. Respect is something that has to be both taught and given. Start early!
Hi Dana, So true! That’s the key really is starting early. Our kids are always watching us, so we can set the example from day one. Thanks for stopping by. :)