Image via WikipediaIt sounds like it is backwards. Shouldn’t it be the children respecting the parents and not the other way around? Well, yes, but it does work both ways. Respect is something that’s learned, it’s not an instinctive gift automatically acquired when a child is born. How can a child learn to give respect if they are never shown what respect looks like? How can they know how important it is to respect and be respected if they never feel it themselves? Here are five ways to show, and teach, your children respect.
Listening is greatly underrated. How often do your really listen to your children when they’re speaking? How often do you get mad at them for not listening to you? Show them what respectful listeners look like. When they talk, stop what you are doing and make eye contact. Give affirmations like ‘Um-hmm’ or ‘really’. Ask questions. In short, be respectful. Not only will they get to see what respect looks like, they’ll become better listeners and more confident in their speech. For shy children, a parent really listening can bring them out of their shell. For loud children, a parent listening can calm their need for attention and actually make them quieter. Whatever the case, you are also building your relationship with them when you listen. The better relationship you have when they are little, the easier it is to keep when they get older.
- Be polite
This seems like a silly thing to say, but how often do your interrupt your kids while they are talking? How many times do you stop their games and make them clean up? How often do you tell them what to do without saying please, or get something from them without saying thank you? You wouldn’t like it if someone did that to you, so why are you doing it to them. Show your kids some manners and you’ll be surprised at how fast they’ll mature.
- Give them responsibilitySpeaking of maturity, nothing says mature like responsibility. Show them your respect by trusting them with something important. It’s up to you and your child what that is. It could be taking out the trash, cleaning their room, or making their lunch. Whatever the responsibility is that you give them, make sure it is theirs alone. Don’t pester them about it. If it doesn’t get done, then let it be.
- Let them suffer
Eventually the repercussions from misusing responsibility will happen. They’ll complain that they can’t find a toy, or they forgot to make their lunch and had to eat the dry peanut butter sandwich the cafeteria provided. Then you can respectfully point out that, had they done their job, they wouldn’t have had that problem. That way, you are respecting their decision to do- or not do- their job, but they will still get the point. Suffering is one of the great teachers. Isn’t it better for them to suffer a little bit when they are young than to have to suffer a lot as adults?
- Give them choices
Another simple idea, but an important one. The ability to choose is something that adults take for granted, but to a child it is a sign of deep respect. You respect their ability to decide what’s best for them. Now, I don’t suggest starting out with anything big. Two choices are fine. Red or blue. Carrots or peas. Simple choices are best, especially for very young children. The goal is not to frustrate or confuse them. Once they make a choice, they will be happier with it then they would have been with whatever you chose. Plus, this gives them the ability to discern the ‘best’ thing, something that’s very important in decision making later in life.
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com