Teaching your child to respect others comes under’ basic manners.‘ A catchphrase of mine in the classroom and at home. In a world where respect has become rarer, it is up to parents like us to make a difference. Teaching your child to respect others is not only about perception, but it also allows healthier and less stressful interactions in life. If children do not show respect to others, they can not expect respect to be shown to them. Respect is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness, but it is necessary for any relationship or workplace. This has implications in future relationships, whether they be emotional or employment. Also, having respect for others and tolerance for differences generally makes life happier and enjoyable! We have an article on tolerance and accepting differences here; this article is more about daily manners.
The best possible way to teach your child how to respect others is by becoming the model example yourself. That is what the co-author of These include respecting family, their teachers, and their peers. We will look at some of the most effective strategies you can apply to teach your child how to respect others.
Highlight the Importance of Good Manners
A child cannot properly learn how to respect others until they understand its importance. Children need to know that being polite with others is not just some formality they have to fulfill. Toddlers will learn it for praise and not be told off. Make older children know that you are genuinely and sincerely acknowledging and appreciating their assistance. When they do the same, this leads to people’s perception of you and how they may relate to you in the future. If you listen when someone talks to you, they will do the same back.
From a young age, you need to start teaching your child how to respect others. Even as a toddler, teach them to say “please” and “thank you.” By the time they become a preschooler, you can also expect them to greet people while looking at them. It is also around this time that you should cue them to say “I’m sorry” and “Excuse me, please.” Teaching the importance of eye contact and how to get children to do it is something we cover here.
Never forget to model behavior and say please and thank you to them. In the same way, your demand for good behavior should not be empty. Whenever your child displays respect, do reinforce that good behavior by paying them a compliment. Often after the event is best, for example, in the car on the way home. It is easy to overlook this. Explain to them why their display of good manners matters. For instance, if your child thanked a teacher for giving them a star, tell them that it was nice of them to appreciate her. If they spoke kindly and with patience to an old person, that requires praise.
Teaching your child how to respect others should include everybody irrespective of age or position. It is also the case with situations involving their peers or siblings. For instance, if a friend of theirs in school shares lunch with them, your child should know how to thank them properly. Additionally, it would help if you let your child understand why it is such a good thing to thank the other person as it makes that friendship deeper and more secure.
Responding to Rude Behaviour
If a child is allowed to act with disrespect or demandingly without facing any consequences, they may think it is normal and acceptable. As such, they are in danger of becoming entitled. As a parent, you will come across rude behavior from your child. This does not mean that you have done a bad job as a parent. We all have outbursts from time to time. One of the most critical aspects of teaching your child to respect others is to address this immediately.
First things first: Remain calm. Remember that everyone can get annoyed. If you lose your own cool, it will only make the situation worse. You may well be publically embarrassed by what has just happened or not understand how your little angel could be so rude. I will often apologize for it to clarify that I am unhappy but keep the ‘telling off’ private. This means that my child will take it in and reflect. This is the aim of discipline rather than to get it off my chest.
In a calm and relaxed tone, make it clear to your child that no matter how annoyed they get, it is not okay for them to be rude to another person. Even unconsciously. Likely, they might not realize it. Dr. Ingrid Schweiger, the author of Self Esteem for a Lifetime and a psychotherapist, suggests getting children to reflect with statements involving ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ can be positive.” Empathy is a higher-level emotion, so talking about how the other person might perceive that behavior is critical. If they didn’t engage in conversation or offer round the last biscuit, how might they feel? This is not something that will happen overnight. It would help if you kept on giving them gentle reminders.
Remember that teaching your child to respect others is also about telling them that we apologize to the other person when we make mistakes. This shows that you care about the person you disrespected and are willing to take responsibility for your actions. If you ever hurt someone else’s feelings, lead by example and show your child that apologizing is important no matter how young or old the other person is.
Teach Your Child Listening Skills
Another vital part of teaching your child to respect others is teaching them listening skills. When you give someone proper attention while they talk to you, you are letting them know you value them. The first step to becoming a good listener is to remove all distractions while making eye contact during conversation.
Do this by example. Put away your phone when you are talking to your child, do not interrupt them while they speak. You can even role-play this and teach them the dos and don’ts of making conversation. Do this as a fun exercise from time to time, and you will notice a visible difference.
Establish House Rules
Teaching your child how to respect rules and boundaries is one of the most important things they can learn about respect. This is the fundamental building block of any school or organization. Everyone knows where they stand, and children, in particular, thrive on consistency. For me, respect is a more important house rule than taking their shoes off.
Children thrive on consistency, so if there are similar rules at their school – for example, at my children’s school, it is ‘treat people the way you would like to be treated’ – this can become a fundamental rule in your house. This consistency will ensure that it becomes a habit. Another respectful house rule might be that there should be no phones at the table. Explain that this is not a draconian rule but instead that it will ensure that they have the opportunity to speak to you.
Teach Them to be Open to Others
Teaching your child to respect others means you also need to teach them the importance of getting to know other people.
As your child ventures into the outside world and interacts with other children, they will learn that they do not like some people and some people do not like them. Let your child know that it is only natural to feel that way, but they should make it a point to get to know the other person. It is necessary to give someone a chance before deciding whether or not they can get along in a workplace is an essential skill.
Teach them that people can have different opinions on certain things, and even if your child disagrees with the other person’s way of doing something, things will not fall apart. In a nutshell, it is the idea of “agreeing to disagree.”
Dr. Ingrid Schweiger says that learning there is more than one way to do something and that people can have different opinions on certain things will help them respect their differences with other people and make them better problem-solvers in life.
Dealing with Being Disrespected
One of the most critical lessons in teaching your child to respect others is teaching them how to deal with disrespect. The world is not always a nice place, and you can expect other people to be rude to your child no matter how respectful your child is. It will take a while for your child to understand this and be very upsetting.
Growing up in a household where everybody makes it a point to be respectful might confuse your child and upset them when other people do not reciprocate the same level of respect (or none at all, for that matter).
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” Martin Luther King, 1958
This statement carries a lot of weight, and it is important to teach your child the same values that this instills. Let your child know that it is okay for them to lose respect for someone else based on their actions, but that does not mean they should act differently. They should just maintain their distance instead.
Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Child to Respect Others
Teaching your child how to respect others from a very young age will pay off well as they grow into teenagers and eventually adults. After all, building a strong foundation can lead to a healthier future for them.