My friend’s husband once was a first-time coach for their 8-year-old son’s basketball team. On the first day of practice, their son complained in front of the other kids about the drills his dad had them practice. On the car ride home, my friend’s husband addressed his son’s disrespect. He reminded his son that he is a leader and the other kids look up to him. When he complains about something, they follow his lead, so his dad needed him to help by being a good example.
When the boy realized he had an important role to play in helping his dad coach the team, he changed his attitude and began to be more respectful. Teaching kids respect is a necessary but difficult task. It starts with your child respecting you as a parent. If this is an uphill battle in your home, you’re not alone. Here are 6 ways to get your kids to respect you.
1. Respect your children.
Parents who respect kids usually have kids who respect parents in return. This is going to look different from child to child, but you know when you’re disrespectful—and so do they. That’s not to say we’re on the same level as our children, but even the “boss” can treat others with respect. If we’re sarcastic and dismissive to them, they’ll try out that kind of behavior soon enough.
2. Respect their dad.
This is huge. The relationship between parents sets the tone for the greater family dynamic. When children see their mom and dad treat each other with love and respect—despite their differences—the standard has been set.
3. Spend more time teaching love than teaching rules.
Children who are taught the connection between love and discipline can accept consequences more easily than those who are governed exclusively by “do it because I said so” and “chapter and verse.”
4. Live with integrity.
Children are master observers. They see our work ethic. They see us paying bills, giving charitably, helping others, being generous with tips, talking positively about others behind their backs. This is where we build and sustain the kind of character our kids will respond to with respect.
5. Don’t be a pushover.
If you let your kids walk all over you (you don’t follow through on discipline, you give in when they pitch a fit, you let them treat you disrespectfully), why would they respect you?
6. Don’t stoop to their level.
Kids will be kids. They’ll whine, they’ll have temper tantrums, they’ll pout. If you’re acting that way too, they’ll likely have little respect for you. Keep your cool. Instead of yelling (“Don’t you talk to me like that!”), calmly respond to their misbehavior. “You know, we don’t talk to each other like that in our family. We treat each other with respect. Go to your room and think about what you said.”
What other methods have worked for getting your kids to respect you?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.