How to Teach Your Kids to Be Respectful

By Contributor
Children learn how to be respectful from their parents.
Children learn how to be respectful from their parents.

All children need to learn to be respectful. Not only will it make your job as a parent easier, it will also improve the behavior and long term success of your child. Children who are not respectful often act out in school, which gets them branded as trouble makers. It is your job as a parent to teach your children about respecting adults as well as their peers. Be sure that you model respectful behavior, too; children learn the most by copying their parents.

Start early. This is the most important part of teaching your kids respect. If they are allowed to name call and swear just because they're small and some people find it funny, it will be much more difficult to break them of these inappropriate habits later.

Don't give in to your child because she refuses to stop begging or complaining. This is detrimental to her view of you as an authority figure, and will cause her to believe that if she acts out long enough then she will be allowed to have her way. Instead, explain in a gentle and calm manner than her behavior is unacceptable, and you will not tolerate her treating you disrespectfully. Nor will her behavior get her what she wants.

Don't tolerate any kind of disrespectful behavior. Even if the situation may have warranted it, such as your son's friend calling him names first, does not mean it's okay for your son to act disrespectfully to his friend in return. Allowing him to do so sends him a mixed message that being disrespectful is at times fine, and even desirable.

Teach children to address adults appropriately, either by calling them Mr. and Mrs., or responding with "yes, ma'am" and "yes, sir" whenever they are asked questions by authority figures such as their grandparents, teacher or neighbors. This is a good habit to develop at a young age, and it will stress to your kids the importance of respecting elders.

Discipline your kids for being disrespectful. This can be done in whatever way you see fit, such as sending a child to time out or taking away TV privileges. Children need to know that there are negative consequences when they act out. Requiring them to apologize to the person they have been disrespectful to will also help them realize they have hurt someone's feelings, and they need to fix that mistake.

Teach your kids to be good communicators. If children know they can express to you and others how they feel, they will be more willing to talk about their concerns and do less name calling, finger pointing and fit throwing. When they have acted disrespectfully, wait until they -- and you -- have calmed down, then talk with them to find out what prompted the behavior and discuss together how it can be avoided in the future.

Notice respectful behavior. Praise your child with genuine gratitude for treating another person respectfully, especially if you can see they struggled with doing so. Tell them exactly what you're proud of, and they will be more likely to do the same thing again in the future.