Teach Children Respectful Behaviour

Teaching children respectful behavior is as easy as 1-2-3

Step 1: Be a positive role model. Children mimic behavior of those they look up to. If we are flipping people off driving and cursing every time someone or something makes us mad- then the little one watching (and listening) will follow suit. Tone of voice is important too. When we talk “at” people instead of “to” them we are telling them we have no respect for who they are. We all know how much we enjoy it when someone is yelling at us. How wonderful do we feel during a yelling match? Yelling at people for reasons other than safety issues like “Watch Out!” is disrespectful and if our own children “speak” to us that way, it’s our own fault and we need to take stock of how we are speaking with them.

It is important to watch our surroundings and pay attention to who is listening to us. No one is perfect and hopefully no one expects us to be. When we have those moments of slip up, (which we all have), go to step two.

Step 2: Acknowledge that your response or verbiage was out of line. You can say something as simple as “I could have handled that better.” One thing I teach my children is the old saying of “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”. Also,the Bible teaches us to “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you”. Children are quite intelligent and when they catch on to these concepts they start to automatically think whether or not they would like it if someone treated them the way they have been treating others. It may take some time but if we are consistent in correcting their disrespectful behavior and openly correcting our own behavior these corrections will be required less and less.

Step 3: Respectful behavior isn’t just what we say; it is also what we do or don’t do. As adults it is our responsibility to teach this behavior to all children, even if they are not yours. Children need to see what is considered respectful. So the next time you are riding a bus or waiting at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and you see an elderly person, give them your seat. When it’s time to leave a tip at the restaurant make sure to say things like “our waitress works hard so I will leave her a nice tip”. Open a door for someone with their hands full or hold the door open when there is someone coming behind you. These actions just scream respect as well as kindness.

Remember I said respectful behavior is also what we don’t do? Sometimes it is appropriate to just keep our mouths shut. Don’t forget to stop rolling your eyes or sighing in disgust when someone annoys us. Our children catch on to these behaviors and they will use them on us. If we just don’t do it and instead make eye contact and actually pay attention this respectful behavior will grow and our children (for the most part) will do the same for us.

Teaching respectful behavior comes from you and your life experiences. Children will learn from your example. Happy living!