Teaching children respect

Respect: respect |riˈspekt| noun

  • a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements: the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor.

Respect: respect |riˈspekt| verb

  • admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements: she was respected by everyone she worked with.


“Respect is an attitude. Being respectful helps a child succeed in life. If your children don’t have respect for peers, authority, or themselves, it’s almost impossible for them to succeed. A respectful child takes care of belongings and responsibilities, and a respectful child gets along with peers. Schools teach children about respect, but it is really you that has the most influence on how respectful your children become.” Jennifer Shakeel


  • In order for children to be respectful to others, we, parents and other adults, must first respect the children so that the children will first respect themselves.
  • Respect is based on love. We love our children unconditionally. We also need to respect our children, so that they in turn will respect others and us.
    • Establish a relationship with your child that is based on really listening and hearing them while exploring each other’s thoughts and feelings. This does not mean handing over all the power.
    • That means listening and accepting their thoughts and feelings without always having to agree. Accepting them is not agreeing with them. “I hear that you do not want to go to the store. Maybe next time you can stay home, but right now we need to go together.”
    • Reflexive listening is shown by hearing what your child is saying and mirroring it back to them verbally so they know they have been heard. “I can hear that this makes you very sad.”
    • It’s a two way street – we respect them and they need to respect others and us. “Can you see that this is making me sad? I would like to spend time with you, but not if you are going to be rude.”
  • Help your children learn to respect themselves for their good qualities. “You are such a good friend. I love hearing that you were nice to David. That must make you feed good.”
    • Help them to understand it is important to be a good person who values others and is therefore valued in this world. “To make friends you have to be a friend. What would a good friend do right now?”
  • Model respect in everything you do, your tone of voice and your words demonstrate your real feelings.
    • Show them that you do respect others and value their place in your lives. Thank people, find what is good about them, give them compliments, and speak nicely about them in your children’s presence.
    • Teach your children how to do this for themselves, even when they disagree about something. “I know you are angry with him, but also tell me something good about David.”
    • There is a difference between internal respect and external respect. Make sure that you are truly respectful and are not exhibiting two sides. Children are very intuitive and will see the truth immediately and learn it.
  • Give your children purpose in interacting with others. Action is more important than words. They need to learn that they are citizens of this world and have a role to play in thinking about the needs of others, in helping each other. We don’t all have to be best friends but we all have respect each other and get along if we share space at school, at work, or in a neighborhood.
  • Expect that your children will always be respectful to others and follow up when they are not by helping them understand how to do it better. “I heard you were not a good listener today at school and that the teachers had to speak to you several times. Why do you think that happened?
    • Discuss it with them by taking the time to stop and talk about it when it happens. “How do you think the teachers felt?”
  • Channel your inner parent and be the leader your child needs you to be. Children are always learning, they need you to teach them and show them the way. tamil website list Do not delegate it to others; you are the parent. “Why do you need to listen to the teachers?”
  • Children learn from us – they will be respectful, if we are respectful. They take their cues from us and actually learn behaviors and language from us. If we show disrespect to others in front of them, they will adopt what we do.


“Yelling, cursing, grabbing, shouting over, and sarcasm are transferable! This is accurate when on both the positive side and the negative side. When you speak with respect to your children, they learn respect. When you speak with disrespect, they learn that just as well.” Robyn Silverman.


  • Mean what you say. If you say there will be a consequence, then you must follow through. Empty words are empty threats and no child will respect you or them. Make sure that before you get to the consequences step, that you have explained why the child needs to listen to you. They will understand that you have their best interests in mind when you truly do.
  • Praise your children when they do it right – simple praise for using respectful language and making the right decision to be resepctful. “I heard that you had a great day at school today and were a very good friend to David. I like hearing that! I like seeing you so happy, doesn’t it feel good?”

In his book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M.D., writes:
“Time spent and the quality of that time conveys to a child that he is valuable. Just telling him you love him all the time without spending quality time with him won’t give him the security of knowing he is valued and loved. Words alone are hollow. Unconsciously, they know their parents’ words do not match up with their deeds. TIME is really important. When children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, then come what may, it’s almost impossible to destroy their spirit. This feeling of being valuable is a cornerstone of self-discipline because when one considers oneself valuable, one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary. [Self-discipline is self-caring.]”

Author: Gail Ader

Early childhood education is my passion and I have worked in this field since 1998, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. Child centered learning in a supportive and developmentally appropriate setting is the key to high quality programs. As the Executive Director at the Cooperative Learning Community my focus is on supporting my team so that they can focus on their children and families.