Model it, expect it, and enforce it! Have you had the pleasure of watching your child respectfully greet a guest with a smile, handshake, and good eye contact? It is one of the most wonderful things to see. It expresses confidence, dignity, and humility. It’s the simplest gesture known to civilization, yet one of the most profound. When we greet someone with respect it says, “I respect you, and want you to respect me”. Simple acts such as this are taught. It isn’t accidental. Respect is a learned behavior just like disrespect is. If our children are acting disrespectful you can bet that they are observing the same behavior from someone they look up to. Our children will rise or fall to whatever level they see the adults in their lives behave. Ouch, it reminds me of the country song Watching You, by Rodney Atkins when the little boy uses a four letter word that started with “s” and the dad asks where he learned to talk like that. He said, “I’ve been watching you, now ain’t that cool. I’m your buckaroo. I want to be like you ..”. So if you ever hear Hannah speak disrespectful, let me know and I will have a talk with Susie 🙂

In her book, The Family Coach Method, Dr. Lynne Kenney lists seven simple things we can do as adults to foster the habit of respect in our children. They include:

  1. Be a good listener – Give your child your undivided attention when they are speaking to you.
  2. Be fair – Consider your child’s viewpoint and experience before starting your opinion.
  3. Be honest – Tell the truth. Be accountable when you make a mistake.
  4. Be polite – Use the manners that you expect of your children.
  5. Be positive – Focus on the positive side of life. Your child deserves a role model that “lifts them up.” Compliment your children; observe what they do well and celebrate it.
  6. Be reliable – Keep your promises. Show your child that you mean what you say. Do as you say and say as you do. Children see the truth through a clearer lens than do adults.
  7. Be trustworthy – Keep your children’s heart-felt feelings and experiences private, show them that you can be a trusted adult who cares about their feelings and their self-esteem.

Showing your children that you respect them through your words and actions encourages your children to respect themselves, you, and others.

Here are some AACA ways to help your child practice respect:

  • Heart – Expect your child to respectfully greet guests.
  • Mind – Provide “think time” when your child is struggling with a task.
  • Body – Encourage one more minute of exercise.
  • Soul – Ask your child to share three things they like about themself.

Quotes about Respect

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” -James Baldwin

“Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their own character, but as a reflection of yours.”- Dave Willis

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