“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster”

~ Stephen R Covey

Respect is the key energy of any happy family, community or society and it is one of the most important things you can teach your child.

But R-E-S-P-E-C-T is even more difficult to teach than to define, but I think respect is an attitude and a mindset and of course one of the first places children learn about respect is from you – as you are their first role model.

I also think that being respectful helps a child succeed in life. If children don’t have respect for their peers, for authority, or for themselves, it’s almost impossible for them to ultimately succeed in life.

A respectful child takes care of their belongings and accepts responsibilities, and they also get along with you, their siblings, peers, friends and strangers.

Of course schools teach children about respect, but it’s you that has the most influence on how respectful your children become. Until children show respect at home, it’s unlikely they will show it anywhere else.

But respect is not the same as obedience. Children might obey you because they are afraid of you. If they respect you, they will obey you because they also know you want what’s best for them.

So here are just a few simple ways to teach respect.

1. Show it:  When a child experiences respect, they know what it feels like and they begin to understand how important it is. So be aware of your attitude and mindset, your tone of voice, your body language and the words you use to praise them, or discipline them and love them, because you need to model the behaviour you want to teach them. If you want your child to show respect you have to respect your child first.

2.  Expect it: When your expectations are high, children rise to the occasion. So teach your child to be polite. Teach them to be caring in how they play with others, how they speak to others and how they speak to you.  Teach them respect for others through good manners. As soon as they are able to talk teach them to say “please” and “thank you.”

3.  Praise it: When you see or hear your children using respectful language and showing respect, praise them so they grow up knowing that is what’s expected of them.

4.  Set limits. One of the best ways to demonstrate respect is to be both kind and firm in your discipline because being kind shows respect for your child, and being firm shows respect for what needs to be done, and over time they will learn self discipline.

5. Discuss it: Pick out times when you are out in the park, reading a story, watching a programme together on TV or when you see other children using respectful or disrespectful language or poor behaviour and discuss with it your children. Use every opportunity to teach your children about what is and isn’t acceptable to you.

6 Correct it: Be confident, calm, fair and consistent when you are correcting or disciplining your kids and make sure you are being respectful yourself while telling them off.

7. Reward it: Being respectful should be something that children naturally do because you have instilled that value into them. It’s not something they do to get huge rewards. But of course while they are little, it’s also a good idea to associate respectful behaviour with stickers, an extra story or a longer playtime outside as well as with intangible rewards such as praise, cuddles and extra privileges as they get older.

8. Acknowledge it: Don’t just let things slip for an easy life – keep the bigger picture always in your mind as a short term gain quickly turns into a long term nightmare !

9. Understand it: Children make mistakes and forget and they also need constant reminders that, for example, shouting at their sister to get out of the bathroom isn’t really the best way to show respect !

10. Reinforce it: Create an atmosphere of respect in your home. As Stephen Covey once said how you treat the most challenging child in your family is the level of respect that  your family experiences.

Teaching respect takes patience, time and lots of energy as it takes years to rear a respectful child but if we are to create a happy, confident ,well behaved child who grows up to be a happy, confident well behaved teenager we need to start from the very beginning .

So today’s question for you is:

How can you show respect to your child?