Just a Little Respect

A few months ago when we were at McDonald's, my 5-year-old came out of the PlayPlace crying.

"What's wrong?" I asked, assuming he must have gotten hurt.

"That boy called me stupid," he announced, a new stream of tears gushing down his face.

Before I could say anything, this same disrespectful child ran over to his table, knocking over my 2-year-old on the way. I watched, expecting him to get a stern talking to from his mom. But she didn't even stop her conversation with a friend at the next table.

Then it occurred to me: The boy had no respect for others because he'd never been taught. Be certain your child doesn't fall into that category by trying these ideas.

  • Talk to your child with respect. The easiest way to teach a child how to talk respectfully is to talk to her in the same manner. Say please and thank you. Use a calm, kind voice.
  • Treat your child with respect. Treat her in the way you want her to treat others. Don't grab things from her (unless there's danger of someone getting hurt). Listen actively, stopping what you're doing and looking her in the eye. If your child understands that what she has to say is important, it will bolster her self-esteem and help her to treat others appropriately.
  • Teach your child how to deal with disrespect. We all have to deal with disrespect in our daily lives, so pass on your knowledge. Suggest that if the other boy can't play nicely, your child probably shouldn't play with him. Let him know that no one should make him feel like he's not important or that his feelings don't matter. And when your child is the one disrespecting others, respond swiftly and firmly. Make sure he apologizes for his transgression.
  • Discipline your child with respect. Too often in a moment of frustration, we slip and forget that how we handle discipline affects our child. Acknowledge that his feelings matter, but it's your job as a parent to keep him safe and help him to become a better person. Be sure to apologize when you lose your cool. If you treat your child with kindness and love, even in times of stress, he will reflect that to the world.

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Other Things to Consider

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RelationshipsParents and Adult Children, Blended Families