Respect is so important. Our kid’s lives and future depend on it. If they respect people and authority they will be teachable and have a bright future. If respect is the foundation of the relationship with your child, life in the home will be pleasant and you will be able to guide them through the most important development years of their life. Here are four ways to raise respectful kids:
1. Never argue with your child
Arguing will never lead someone to respect you. In fact just the opposite.
It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel Proverbs 20:3
We want to make our point with our kids. We think if we keep telling them over and over again it will somehow sink in. A child of any age, preschool to teenager, will leverage this to their advantage. Here is the scenario every parent gets dragged into.
Parent: Says something wise
Child: Says something stupid
Parent: Repackages something wise
Child: Says something stupid
Parent: (now frustrated) Says something smart but sounds stupid doing it
Child: (now feeling like they are in a conversation with a peer) Says something stupid antagonistically
Parent: Ends up saying something stupid
Child: Concludes they were right and mom/dad is just another person to dominate in an argument
A child will not respect your authority if they feel like they can challenge that authority and walk away with a win. It’s funny, we may be 3o or 40 something years old, but give us 60 seconds with a child and we throw away all of our maturity and start acting like a kid on the play ground. The wisdom of Proverbs 17:14 applies to parents as well.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
Refuse to argue. Explain, yes. Answer questions calmly, sure. Never, under any circumstances be dragged into an argument with your child. The scenario should look more like this.
Child: Can I go to Jimmy’s house to stay the night?
Parent: No, I don’t know Jimmy or his family and I would like for us to spend some time together this weekend.
Child: Thats not fair, don’t you trust me?
Parent: Yes, I trust you and I want to spend time with you. The answer is “no” (its important to reinforce and make it clear that you have fully and finally given them an answer)
Child: Begins to speak with frustration
Parent: We are done talking about this, please do not keep asking me a question I have already answered.
Child: (testing to see if you mean business) Jimmy is my best friend and …
Parent: (calmly but firmly) We are done discussing this. I have answered you and if you keep talking about it [insert discipline here] Depending on the age of the child I recommend five minutes in the corner or face down on the floor, push ups (I am all about fitness) or household chores. (this is kind of a reward for the parent refusing to get into an argument)
If you consistently refuse to argue with your child, they will begin to see you as the real authority in the house. An authority that they will respect and even cherish as the years go by.
2. Always discipline disrespect
Figure out what the highest form of punishment is in your house and reserve it for disrespect. Discipline is one of the most loving things we do because:
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away. Proverbs 13:24
Decide what motivates your child the most. Is it spanking? Loss of electronics? Digging a 4ft x 3ft x 30ft trench in the backyard? Whatever it is, just make sure they really hate it. Every time your child shows disrespect give them this discipline. There are two key words to remember when it comes to discipline.
Consistently: like every single time no matter how good a mood you are in or how much you don’t want to. That kind of “consistently.” If a kid thinks there is only an 80% chance their action will lead to discipline, I promise, they will take those odds. If they are sure there is no chance of getting away with disrespect, you will rarely need to discipline.
Calmly: You are not an angry bear. Your child is not a salmon. You must, both in word and action remain calm when disciplining.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1
Disrespect usually comes in the small things. These are things you have to watch, never allow your child to
- Tell you “No.”
- Cover their ears when you are talking
- Roll their eyes at you
- Blatantly ignore you
- Lie to you
- Call you names
All of these, and more, should be met with swift, but calm discipline, consistently. If your new to this, I promise, just buckle down and do it for a week and you will rarely have to discipline after that. If … again … (not to belabor a point) … you are… (capitol letters coming here) CONSISTENT!
3. Never side with your child against authority
Your child has to understand that their teachers, coaches and other adults in their lives must be respected. Not all of them are really people worthy of respect, but that does not matter. If they complain that there teacher is being hard on them say “Excellent, sounds like something I would do!” If they say there coach is being a jerk say “Don’t talk about your coach that way.” See how simple that is. If they say there uncle asked them to do something inappropriate, then you have a problem, but other than that back up ALL positions of authority. Teach your kids Romans 13:7
Give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Do we ever get out of a ticket because we thought the cop was unfair? Do we get out of work because our boss is a jerk? No and nope. (If you answered yes to these, you have never learned respect and will not be successful teaching it to your kids) We respect these positions or we end up out of work or in jail. Teach kids to respect authority early on.
4. Show them respect
In my opinion, the leading cause of disrespectful children are disrespectful parents. Yeah, I know, ouch! that hurts. Especially if you have a disrespectful teen on your hands. Its like hocking a loogie into the wind and then bam! all over your face. It’s hard to hear, but it is true.
- If you tell you child to shut up, they will tell you to shut up.
- If you call them names, they will call you names.
- If you make fun of them they will do bad things to your toothbrush.
- If you don’t give them freedom to be themselves (disrespect excluded) they will blow up at you.
Is it possible that parents need to be reminded of the golden rule?
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. Matthew 7:12
Show them respect in the way you talk and act, and they will (most of the time) return that respect.