Teaching Kids Respect

Can Fathers Demand Respect From Their Children?

Teach Respect

Train children to show respect for teachers and other adults.
Train children to show respect for teachers and other adults.

Children don't naturally show respect. Fathers need to teach kids the importance and behavior of respect, preferably beginning when children are young. It can start with teaching proper manners, such as saying "Thank you" when someone does something for them. Fathers can teach their kids to respect authority by encouraging them to call adults by "Mr." or "Mrs." and their last name and avoiding interrupting adults in the middle of a sentence. Dads can teach children to respect others' possessions and differences in race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic level. The more they teach respect, the more likely their children will learn to give it.

Respect Mom

Children respect mom and dad more when dad respects mom.
Children respect mom and dad more when dad respects mom.

A father's treatment of his children's mother plays an influential role in how much his kids respect her -- and him. Talking respectfully to the children's mother is a valuable starting point. Kids learn to yell at and belittle others from watching and hearing one parent screaming and using sarcasm with their other parent. Treating mom as an equal partner instead of trying to dominate the household is another sign of respect that children will pick up on. Being respectful to the kids' mother is especially helpful in showing sons how to respect their future wives when they become fathers.

Respect the Children

Kids are more likely to respect dad when he respects them.
Kids are more likely to respect dad when he respects them.

Fathers earn kids' respect by treating them respectfully. Gaining kids' respect takes a multifaceted approach. First, talk respectfully to children. Avoid sarcasm, screaming or belittling when addressing them. Set consistent expectations, too. Children need healthy boundaries that keep them safe and show you care for them. Seek cooperation from your kids over compliance; let children offer their ideas and opinions in age-appropriate ways. And remember the problem that needs to be fixed is the kids' behavior -- not the kids themselves -- when they disobey.

Respect Others

Kids tend to catch their father's respectful or disrespectful example.
Kids tend to catch their father's respectful or disrespectful example.

How many dads have told their children to speak to them with respect and to respect their authority as a parent? Do those same fathers speak with respect to and about neighbors, bosses, teachers, coaches, co-workers, friends, pastors and the postal carrier who is chronically late in delivering the mail? Talking disrespectfully about others, and to others, in front of children gives kids a poor example to emulate. While respect is taught, more than anything, it is caught. Model respect for those around you so your kids catch your good example.

Ways to Teach Respect to a Teenager


Self-respect is the foundation to extending respect to others, states the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Teach your child to take care of his health by avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Additionally, teach your child to choose healthy foods, exercise and get enough sleep every night. Instill a strong self-esteem in your child by teaching him he is important and valuable. This self-esteem will help him resist negative peer pressure. Teach your child to carry himself with self-assurance and strength to help him interact positively and assertively with others.

Parental Example

Because kids of any age learn by the example parents give, you can often teach respect by modeling the behavior you desire. When you treat your child respectfully and model respectful behavior, your child will probably see and feel the benefits of this positive interaction, states the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Project a respectful attitude not only with your teenager, but with everyone. Your teenager will witness this respectful attitude and naturally emulate you.

Courtesy and Politeness

Make it a habit to speak courteously and politely to others, advises Michelle Neff, with the Michigan State University Extension. From family to salesclerks to telemarketers, the proper way to speak to others involves a civil and courteous manner. Say “please” and “thank you” regularly. Establish eye contact as you converse with others and practice active listening to stay engaged in the conversation. Avoid overreacting or allowing emotions to carry you away. If you become angry, maintain self-control and work to resolve issues constructively.

Teach Tolerance

Part of respect involves accepting and tolerating the differences in other people. Differences may include ethnicity, skin color, gender, beliefs or sexual orientation. Teach your child to extend respect and tolerance to others, even those who may look, think or act differently than she does. Part of this tolerance involves extending the treatment she wants to receive to others, counsels Neff.

How to Raise a Son to Respect Girls

Model respect for your son and ensure that the men in his life also model respect, especially geared to women, if you want your son to treat women respectfully, according to an article at Inspire-Hope.org, a Minnesota shelter for women and children. His dad, grandfather, older brothers, uncles and any other men in his life should treat women with respect. This means not abusing them physically, mentally or emotionally. This means they should listen when women speak and not demean them.

Respect yourself. According to Education.com, your son will not learn to respect girls and women if they do not respect themselves. For example, if you do everything for him such as cleaning his room, making his plate, washing his laundry and asking him whether you can do anything else for him, think about the message you are sending to him about women. You are telling him that women are there to pick up after him and be at his beck and call. To show respect for yourself, you have to be firm and consistent with him and require him to do what he needs to do.

Talk to him about showing respect for girls and women, according to Inspire-Hope.org. In fact, you should talk to him about respecting everyone, not just females. However, when it comes to teaching him to respect females, you should converse with him about what is considered respectful, such as stopping when a woman says “no.” Talk to him about how females differ from males and explain to him that he should respect a woman’s tears, her emotions, her strength, her success and her power. He should start this from day one and continue it throughout his life.

Love your son. According to Education.com, when you show your son unconditional love and support, you are teaching him the same qualities, which means he’s more likely to treat his future wife and daughters with the same unconditional love and support, which is the ultimate form of respect.

How to Teach Children to Respect Parents & Siblings

Model respect in your home whether your children are looking or not, advises Robyn Silverman, Ph.D., author, speaker and child/teen development specialist. When you treat your children and your spouse with respect, your kids grow up believing that respect is the proper, normal way to treat others. If your children are prone to yelling and screaming at you and at one another, look at your own behavior. If you yell and scream when things don’t go your way, your kids are more likely to do the same.

Acknowledge your child’s respectful and disrespectful behavior, advises Silverman. When she’s behaving in a way that is respectful of you or her siblings, praise her for it. Alternately, if she is behaving in a disrespectful manner to someone in your household, stop her and talk to her about her behavior. When you let her get away with treating someone disrespectfully, whether it is because no one seems bothered by it and you don’t want to disrupt the peace or because you don’t have time, you are only teaching her that you don’t consider her manners and respect of others important.

Require that all of your children treat one another with respect, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s Research and Extension program. Say you have a 10-year-old and a 17-year-old and you are frustrated with the lack of respect your 10-year-old shows his older brother. You have to make sure that your older child is treating your younger child with the same amount of respect that you require your younger child to show or it won’t happen. Kids are unlikely to treat anyone with respect if that person doesn’t respect them in return. Just because your older child is a teenager with a much different life than your younger one doesn’t mean he can treat his younger brother disrespectfully by not including him on occasion, by talking down to him or by being mean to him.

Parenting a Teen Without Respect

A Parenting Role Model

According to Jim Taylor, Ph.D., adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and partner of the Triumph Group, when you model respect for your teens, they learn to respect not only you but they learn to respect themselves. When you behave respectfully by respecting yourself, your loved ones and your body, your teen learns to respect you as well. When your teen learns to respect you, he learns to respect himself, making him less likely to use drugs, abuse alcohol and engage in other dangerous behaviors.

Avoid Violence

Whether you’ve actually abused your child or not, you should never resort to threatened, actual or any type of implied violence, advises Parenting.org. For example, if your teen is crying because she just broke up with her boyfriend and you think she’s being overdramatic and ridiculous, don’t tell her that you’ll give her something to cry about. This type of implied violence -- whether you follow through with it or not -- gives your teen the impression that you do not respect her, which means she will not be able to respect you or herself.

Forget Friends: Be a Parent

No matter how many times your teen tells you that his friend’s mom is way cooler than you because she hangs out with him, lets him stay out late or allows him to watch movies of which you may not approve, don’t fall into the trap of being his friend instead of his parent. Your teen will never, ever learn to respect you if you treat him the way his friends treat him, advises Taylor. To earn the respect of your teen, you have to be a parent. You have to look out for his best interests, make rules, set clear expectations and employ tough love when needed.

Don’t Let Disrespect Slide

When raising a teen who doesn’t have any respect, your job is not to hope that she learns to respect you and herself some day. Your job is to correct her disrespectful behavior and acknowledge her respectful behavior if you want her to learn, advises Robyn Silverman, author, parenting educator and public speaker. For example, if you say something and your teen tells you that you’re stupid, call her out on it and enforce a consequence for her disrespect. Ignoring her or letting it slide isn’t teaching her anything, nor is it building her character.