Teach Children to Be Respectful

— Written By Shirley Rush and last updated by

We often forget that children aren’t born with a built-in sense of respect for others. While each child has a different personality, all children need to be taught to be respectful.

Respect is treating others the way we want to be treated, being courteous, and polite to others, and discussing problems. The following is a list of ways to give respect.

  • Treat everyone with respect by being polite.
  • Respect the individuality of others and be accepting of individual differences.
  • Judge people on their merits, not on their race, religion nationality, sex, physical or mental condition, or socio-economic status.

Teach your child basic social interaction skills. It may sound old fashioned, but it’s very important to teach your child basic manners like saying “please” and “thank you.”

Be proactive rather than reactive. Train your children to be respectful instead of just reacting to their behavior with punishment.

Remember that your child is not your friend—he’s your child. Your job is to teach him to be able to function in the world. This means teaching him to behave respectfully to everyone, not just you.

People wonder why children have gotten so much more disrespectful these days—we see children and teens arguing with adults (or ignoring them outright), using foul language, having an attitude, and not using manners or respecting those in authority. Sadly, this has become the norm for many children and teens.

Catch disrespect early, respond quickly and consistently.If your child is rude or disrespectful, don’t turn a blind eye. Intervene and say, “We don’t talk to each other that way in this family.” Help your child learn that disrespectful behavior works against them. Giving consequences when your children are younger is going to pay off in the long run.

Be a good example. Recognize that your child’s bad habits may be a reflection of your own habits. Take an honest look at your behavior and see what you need to change in order to demonstrate respect successfully to your children. Consider the following areas:

Parenting tips for respect & repressing disrespect:

Teach respect.  Give children the tools they need to show you respect.

Model respect. Remember, children take their cues from the adults in their lives. Simply put, if you are respectful, your children are more likely to be respectful. They are always watching us.

Discuss respect. When you see someone being disrespectful, use that as a teaching moment for your children. Talk about what the person is doing and how that constitutes disrespectful or bullying behavior.

Praise Respect: When you see or hear your children using respectful language and making respectful choices, praise them for a positive, respectful decision.

Expect respect.  Be sure that you do not tolerate disrespectful or bullying behavior from your children. When your expectations are reasonably high, children rise to the occasions.

Remember these are our children and it is our duty to teach them how important it is to carry themselves in a respectful manner and teach them that this is how you gain respect from others in this world.

For additional information, contact Shirley Rush at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Hoke County Center, at 875-2162 or email her at shirley_rush@ncsu.edu.