9 Effective Ways to Teach Your Child about Respect

How to Teach Kids to Be Respectful Towards Others

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
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Parents need to remember that children are very observant; that’s how they learn. Being a good example of what you want your child to learn is one of the most important things you can do for him. If your child sees you give up your seat for an elderly person, he is likely to ask you why you did it, giving you an opportunity to explain why he needs to be respectful towards elders or people in need. There are so many opportunities you can grab on a daily basis and turn them into lessons for your child. Read on to understand kids’ behaviour at different phases of their lives and how parents can teach them to be respectful of others.

Video : How to Teach Kids to Be Respectful Towards Others

How Do Young Children Behave During Their Growing Age?

Two sisters sitting in a park on a summer day.

Below are some of the behavioural traits children show as they grow up:

  • Newborns: Newborns are helpless and cannot do anything for themselves. Parents must satisfy their need to feel loved.
  • Infants: Infants learn to recognise people and love to be doted-on by their families. As they near the one-year mark, they begin to crawl and explore the world around them. Under careful supervision, infants should be allowed and encouraged to learn how to interact with the world.
  • Toddlers: Toddlers long to please their parents and often try to do so by imitating them. During this time, they act rather impulsively and find it hard to control themselves. They are also quite self-centred and may not like to share.
  • Preschoolers: Children of this age tend to be less self-centred and more helpful. They also become more outgoing and friendly. At this age, they start to realise when they make mistakes. Teaching respect to preschoolers is easy as they want to please their parents and imitate them.
  • School-Going Kids: Children come close to their peers and start to become more influenced by them. They may take less interest in family activities. Children of this age want to be more independent and socialise more with others of their age.
  • Adolescents: Teenagers go through many changes, and experience growth spurts and changes in puberty. They are at an age where they are transitioning from childhood into adulthood. They try to act like adults, often resulting in them behaving in a rebellious manner. It is during this time that they are perceived as kids with no respect.

At What Age Should You Teach Kids About Respect?

Teaching children respect can never be done too early. By behaving the way you want your kids to behave, you set a good precedent for them to follow. It is especially damaging to a child if he is not treated in a respectful manner by adults because he learns to treat others the way he is treated.

Preschoolers are at the age where they are beginning to have more consciousness of their mistakes. It is the ideal time to really start teaching them good manners and how to behave in a respectful way towards others. It is especially important since preschoolers have more interaction with others outside the home.

How to Teach a Child to Be Respectful and Practice Good Manners

How to explain respect to a child? This is a question on every parent’s mind. Below are some tips for teaching kids to respect others:

1. Be Sensitive

Being sensitive to the needs of your child often results in him learning to be sensitive towards the needs of others as he grows.

2. Speak Well

Always use a respectful tone when speaking to children. If you speak rudely to them, they will learn to speak rudely to others!

3. Positive Reinforcement

It is important to not only correct your child but also to reward him for the right behaviour. For example, if the grandmother baked cookies for the grandkids, who thanked her immediately after they received them, you could respond with, “It was nice of you to thank grandma. I’m sure she worked really hard and felt appreciated.” As they have managed to earn your praise, they are more likely to do it again.

4. Be Patient

Most children are self-centred and do not want to listen when they are being corrected. Instead of losing your temper, be patient with them as this teaches them to be patient with others in difficult situations in the future.

5. Be a Good Counsellor

Sometimes young children have problems in social situations and need you to hear them out and help them through any difficulties they may be experiencing. When you lend an ear and provide valuable advice when your kids are in need, they are more likely to do the same for others.

6. Correct Your Child On the Spot

A lot of the time, a young child may not realise some things are unacceptable. For example, your child may interrupt you while you are having a conversation. The best approach is to excuse yourself, take your child aside and politely let him know what he did was wrong and why.

7. Set Realistic Behavioural Expectations

You must take some effort to set expectations with your child. Explain how and why you expect him to behave in different situations. If you are at a restaurant, tell him he needs to sit decently at the table and mind his table manners as it is not appropriate to run around while people are dining.

8. Teach Table Manners

People love to celebrate by having feasts; they can be sensitive towards proper dining etiquette. Teaching kids how to respect others through activities makes things interesting for them. Try pretending the queen is coming for dinner as you teach them table manners.

9. Story Telling

You can also use stories for children to educate kids about the importance of being respectful. You may ask them to figure out which of the characters in the stories are respectful and which are not. This helps them understand which behavioural traits are considered good and which aren’t.

Parenting can be tough as it is. If you’ve found your kids behaving disrespectfully despite educating them, we have some tips you can use.

Ways to Handle Disrespectful Behaviour in Young Kids

Here are some effective ways of handling your child if he is disrespectful:

1. Provide Consequences

If your child is indulging in inappropriate behaviour, like interrupting your conversations, firmly warn him of the consequences, for example, asking him to go back to his room if he doesn’t stop interrupting.

2. Follow Through

Follow through on any consequences your child was warned of if he persists in that behaviour.

3. Restitution

Children need to be taught that they need to take responsibility for their behaviour. If your child purposely throws things around while angry, make the child clean up the mess he made as a consequence of his bad behaviour.

Despite the bustle of this fast-paced life, parents must make time to spend with their children and really listen to them. Getting together regularly for a family night and just having fun can also strengthen their bond. When parents give their kids their time and take them seriously, kids do not develop feelings of loneliness and resentment, which often cause them to act out in defiance.

Parents must also remember to treat each other with respect, as it is vital in teaching children to respect others. If children feel connected to their parents, feelings of mutual trust and respect are promoted.

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