You will get respect, as a parent, by doing two things: first, demand that your children behave respectfully all the time: and second, set the example; behave respectfully yourself.
You can start teaching children to behave respectfully at about age 3. Right there, their answers must be, “Yes, Mom” or “No, Mom”, not just “yes” or “no”, and certainly not “yeah.” or “naaa”. If you do not require your children to behave in a respectful manner right from the start, you will get less than what you want when they’re 9 and 10. And much less when they're in their teens.
Disrespect is everywhere around children – amongst their peers, on TV, in the movies, in the comic books. They can learn very quickly that: mom and dad are not in charge, that kids know just as much as adults, if not more; and that you can talk any way you want to an adult and there are no consequences. They can learn that because that is what is in the media. They can talk disrespectfully to teachers and all that will happen is a hand slap.
Parents must first set the standards for what is acceptable, and then enforce the standards – all the time and without exception. A child can certainly express his or her feelings but they should never, ever, talk disrespectfully to you without your taking firm, corrective action.
Is your child already part way down that road? Set up the standards in your home and have them firmly in your own mind. Make sure your spouse is on the same page. Then sit your child down and explain that you’ve made a mistake in the past, but that now this is how things will be, and you spell it out, make it clear, and enforce it.
Children who behave disrespectfully get treated with no respect. Ask your child if they know someone in their class with a bad mouth. Then ask if that child ever gets trusted with any responsibility; or gets a place on the team by the coach. They don’t, and your child can recognize this truth rapidly: Disrespectful people do not get treated with respect.
Do you criticize your boss or your spouse in front of your child? Your friends? If you can talk about them disrespectfully, the children feel they can as well. The President? Politicians? If you talk disrespectfully about our leaders in front of your children, the children will talk disrespectfully about you – their leaders.
If you have to say to your kids “I don’t know why you don’t treat me with respect, I’m your mother!”, you’ve already lost. You didn’t require their respect as a part of their behavior in the past, and you have not behaved respectfully in front of them.
For respectful children, set the example and demand they follow your lead.
Copyright © 2008 Art Pryor
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Art Pryor has fathered 3 children all of whom have gone to top colleges and succesful careers. Art also has 42 years of experience as a martial arts instructor and has taught thousands of children. He runs USK Karate Academies in south Florida and is also the founder and president of the Sidekick Foundation, Inc. which provides scholarships for at-risk children to take martial arts. He has been writing articles on parenting for five Florida publications for the past ten years. Art has been married to Pat for 32 years.