Sometimes parents are quick to desire respect from their child, but neglect the fact that the best way to teach them respect, is to show it to them.
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Why should a parent respect their child?
Just like love, respect is something we can choose to show someone, even if we don’t feel it. I know that some say love is only a feeling, but I believe it to be so much more than that.
And as I won’t go into the complexities and wonders of love, I simply wanted to bring to light the importance that respect, just like love, needs to be viewed as not JUST a feeling, but a choice.
Respect is universally desired. When someone feels respect from another individual, they feel admired, important, and can sometimes be driven to do some pretty incredible things.
When you can understand that respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, you can better understand that it’s something you should show your kids every day.
While this isn’t a topic much covered when it comes to the parent-child relationship, it’s one of the most important.
When applied to a parent-child relationship, it will unravel a myriad of truths that will help your kids have a healthy confidence in who they are, and also learn how to show respect to others, including their future spouse.
Respect, in my opinion, is a form of love; when it comes to kids, they will always feel more loved when respected because it will have meant that their parents admired, approved, and we’re impressed by their actions.
We see this played out when little kids show off or do something that desires a “wow” reaction. If you think about it, kids constantly desire respect from you as the parent.
Why is respecting your child important?
If respect is not healthily felt within a family, the result can be devastating. When a child is continually trying to impress their parents, but the response is underwhelm or disappointment, they will grow up feeling like a failure, and that they can never live up to what their parents desire them to be.
Read more about that – 3 Common Parent Fails That Emotionally Damage Children
This is all the more reason for parents to understand the influence they can have on their children when it comes to their responses for a child reaching out for respect.
If you can respond respectfully, even if you don’t necessarily feel it, it will help your child feel admired and loved.
When your toddler makes a painting that’s horrific to the average human eye, but your response is of wonder and amazement, then your child will feel respected and admired by you.
You could have responded with your initial feeling of disgust, but you know it would have crushed their spirit.
To most parents, a typical response is that everything their child does is incredible, even if it’s awful. But as your child gets to an age where he’s not cute or adorable anymore, it becomes more difficult to show our kids respect. It sometimes feels forced.
But at this time, usually around the age of 8, it’s incredibly vital that parents continue to show their admiration and respect for their kids. If not, a child will continue to make attempts at wanting to feel respected, even if it’s in a disrespectful way.
A child showing disrespect to their parents is usually a normal part of adolescence and rebellion. But it can also be a way that a child is emotionally reaching out because they don’t feel respected by their parents.
To avoid this sneaky and common dysfunction to creep into your family, here are some practical ways to show your child, especially between the ages of 8-18, that you respect them no matter what.
Check out this incredible parenting book by Paul David Tripp
7 Ways to Show Your Child Respect
1. Respect your child by continuing to be impressed with them, even if you don’t feel it
Most children around the age of 7 or 8, will get pretty obnoxious at no fault of their own–it’s just the way things are.
But that doesn’t mean we should show any inkling that they are annoying the crap out of us. As no parent is perfect, I can attest to the fact that I have not always hidden my feelings of annoyance when my child attempts to get attention in all the wrong ways.
But at the end of the day, I always make sure that my son knows without a shadow of a doubt that I admire and am proud of him, even if what he’s doing makes me want to pull my hair out.
2. Apologize to them when you’ve wronged them
One of the best ways to show your child respect is to apologize to them when you have wronged them. This shows them that you are imperfect; therefore, they also don’t always have to be perfect.
Having respect for one another rides on the shoulders of having grace for one another.
3. Show interest in the things they are interested in
Imagine a man who’s been nurturing a family business his entire life. He took on the responsibility when his father retired, and his father did the same for his grandfather.
Naturally, this man desires for his only son to further the business. And as his son grew up, he continually placed the expectation on his son by teaching him the trade, and saying things like, “when you’re ready to take on the business…”
Do you think the son, when it came time, felt the freedom to say he doesn’t want to continue the family business? Or will he feel like a colossal disappointment to his dad?
Parents, it’s easy to place your expectations on your kids. That’s why it’s SO essential to nurture your child’s God given talents and let them choose for themselves what they decide to do with their lives.
4. Respect your child by allowing them to express themselves
You can begin to implement this as soon as they are toddlers–let them wipe their nose, choose their clothes–within reason, allow them to express themselves.
When we try to control even the little things in our child’s life, the more they might push back, or not feel safe to share with you who they truly are.
You can also encourage them to start journalling at an appropriate age, which is a great way for our child to begin to express themselves. Check out these printable kid’s journals, easily printed form the convenience of your own home.
5. Listen to understand and not respond or fix
This one is difficult for parents. We have learned a thing or two on our journeys, so naturally, we don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes we did.
This can sometimes cause us to force unwanted advice down our child’s throat.
But when your child comes to you with a struggle, listen to understand, not respond or fix. Ask them if they want your advice instead of responding immediately with your words of wisdom.
Parenting is about patience, and many times, letting your kids come to you.
6. Respect your child by paying attention to how you word things
In the business of life, we tend to get a little sloppy with how we treat one another. I know we do in our family. But it always comes back to the basics.
Treat one another as you would like to be treated.
Being a parent doesn’t mean having free reign to act or treat your kids however you feel. I mean, you can. Words can be the most damaging to children, especially when coming out of the mouths of their parents.
So use your words wisely. When asking your child to do something for you, say it in a respectful and loving way. When your child makes a mistake, be respectful with your discipline.
7. Allow them to make their own choices
I remember one instance with my son, who was six at the time. He was begging me to go to the park, so we went, even though I had a ton of stuff to do.
As soon we got there, I looked over at my son, who’s face seemed overwhelmed at the number of children who were playing on the playground. He sat on the bench beside me and didn’t move. I waited a few minutes to give him time, but still. He didn’t move.
I could tell that he was being shy, but he made up some excuse that his leg hurt. It was really tempting to get upset—I took the time to take him to the park, and this is what happened.
But instead, I simply put my arm around him and asked him if he wanted to go home.
He said, yeah.
Parenting is all about reading the signs our kids throw at us daily. When we can become discerners and observers of our children, instead of controllers or pushers, then our kids will not only feel respected but truly loved and admired.
When our kids feel respected, they will act respectfully.
Be the example.
Positive parenting tools for every parent
Screen Time Protection and Teaching Moderation
I’ve recently partnered with Bark, a software to supervise, manage, and protect your child’s device use on the go. Use the code WORDBIRD at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial!
Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids – FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below.
Book List for Kids and Parents
Check out my recommended books for parenting.
Book list to teach kids about racial diversity.
Journaling for Kids
When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid’s Printable Journals — created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination.
Chores for Kids
Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge
Implementing chores and structure in your child’s daily life is a VERY helpful tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their own progress, and keep you from having to constantly remind them of their daily tasks.
If you’re looking for something a bit more simple, this is also a good option.
Chore Chart Printable – Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer
If you’re looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly “missions.”
Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids
Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL, and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment.
We even offer an “Exemption Time” for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences.
Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!
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