Ways to Teach Respect to a Teenager

It may be easy to fall into the trap of demanding respect from a teenager. Instead of making this harsh demand, however, it might be more effective to earn respect from your teenager. Focus on positive interactions with your teenager and you are likely to find that respect is a positive attribute that naturally occurs.


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 1. 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.