“Respect means honoring other people and treating them with care and courtesy. While respect includes good manners, the core of the behavior goes deeper than politeness. It stems from the belief that other people have as much worth and dignity as you, and that harming others or their property is inherently wrong.” Belief.net
Unfortunately, children aren’t born with the instinct to be respectful. Children are innately self-centered and selfish. Therefore, as parents, we need to help our children learn to be respectful of others and their needs and wants, and not just think of themselves and their own needs.
We also have an extra struggle because we live in a culture where disrespectful behavior is commonplace and portrayed as acceptable on T.V., online and in movies.
Can I be honest with you? Respect is very important if you are homeschooling. If your child doesn’t respect you as their parent, it’s going to be challenging to effectively homeschool them.
But homeschooling is a great way to get more time with your child so you can work on building respect!
If your child has a problem with being disrespectful towards you and others, I’d recommend that you focus first and foremost on teaching them about the importance of respect and work on building that character quality in them. This is an ongoing process, and takes time and focused effort, but with God’s help, your child will become more respectful.
Respect is very important to God. In the Scriptures, God calls us to respect our parents, our spouses, and our elders. In fact, in I Peter 2:17, God says we’re to respect EVERYONE!
“Show proper respect to everyone…” I Peter 2:17
There are also many scriptures about honoring and respecting God Himself!
Teach them the importance of being respectful
- Use scripture to explain that this is a command from God for us to obey. Here are some verses to use to teach this: (you could choose a couple of these to memorize!)
- I Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
- Ephesians 5:33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
- I Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…”
- Leviticus 19:4 “Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.”
- Leviticus 19:32 “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.”
- Ephesians 6:2: “Honor your father and mother” (honor is a word that means much the same as respect)
- Use these resources for teaching respect:
- Talking Tree Books: – website on teaching respect
- 10 Powerful Tips for Training Unstoppable Children by Patti Gibble.
- The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect by Jan Berenstain (for younger children)
- Respect Rocks: A Behavior Program for Teaching your Children Respect and Responsibility by Wendy Davis (not advertised as a Christian book, but the author is a seasoned mom of 6 and has great insights into how to teach these concepts to children)
- Mother and Son: The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerich (based off of the same principles as the Love and Respect Marriage book – an excellent resource for anyone who has boys!)
Model respectful behavior
As we teach our children the importance of respect, we need to give them guidelines and directions on how we expect them to live this out.
Train them to talk respectfully to you and others by being a good role model. If you treat others with respect, your children will imitate your behavior.
You can even role-play situations with them, giving them the opportunity to practice how to be respectful in upcoming situations before they are in them!
It’s essential that your children see respectful behavior modeled – they will do what you do more than they will do what you say! Children learn respect by imitation and training. We need to be good role models of respect – and that includes showing them respect as we interact with them.
Set expectations high and give positive reinforcement when you see your child being respectful!
Let them know that you expect them to be respectful to you and others. Talk about being respectful often and ask them questions to get them thinking about how they can be more respectful.
When you see them exhibiting respectful behavior, praise them and encourage them to continue! Maybe you even want to have a weekly “Respect” award that you give to whichever of your children showed the most respect to others each week.
Teach kids to disagree respectfully
There’s bound to be times when your child doesn’t agree with you or with someone else. They need to know how to express their frustration and their opinion without being disrespectful. In most families with multiple children, disagreements between siblings are a common occurrence.
When kids have a disagreement with a sibling, they often react with anger and unkind words or actions. But they can learn to work it out without being disrespectful to one another!
Here are two resources you can use to help teach your children how to get along with one another and learn to disagree respectfully:
- Building Respect and Teamwork in Families (blog post by Connected Families)
- The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande (this was a huge blessing to our family for teaching our children conflict resolution!)
Pray for your children – ask God to help develop a respectful attitude in your children!
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of praying for your children! God is in the business of changing hearts and attitudes and His Holy Spirit can move in even the most stubborn of hearts! Pray for your children to love others as Jesus does and ask God to work in their hearts to bring about the respectful behavior that He wants them to exhibit. And encourage your children to ask for God’s help to be more respectful by praying with them for exactly that!