Talking back, eye rolling, name calling and outright defiance are all signs of disrespect that make good parents cringe. Although it's normal for kids to behave disrespectfully at times, it is essential that parents earn a child's respect so that it doesn't become a habit. The two main ways parents can earn respect is by modeling and teaching respectful behavior and by providing adequate discipline. Then, when a child behaves disrespectfully, parents can use it as a teachable moment to encourage more respectful behaviors in the future.
Model and Teach Respect
Teach respectful communication habits. When your little one is talking, show interest in what he is saying, even when you've heard the same story over and over. Avoid interrupting him or finishing his sentences for him, no matter how tempting that may be at times.
Provide warnings before transitioning from one activity to another. For example, say, "In five minutes it will be time to put the blocks away and get ready for bed." This shows respect for his time and gives him an opportunity to finish up what he is doing.
Be honest with your child and show that you follow through with promises. If you say, "I'll take you to the playground today if you pick up all your toys," make sure to follow through with your end of the bargain. If you are unable to do what you've said, explain your reasoning and don't make it a habit. For example, if it starts raining and you're no longer able to go to the playground, say, "I am so sorry that we won't be able to go to the playground today because of the rain. We can find something fun to do indoors instead."
Manage your anger and frustration in respectful ways. If you lose your temper and throw an adult-sized temper tantrum, your child will learn to copy your behaviors. When you're angry, take a deep breath, count to 10 or distract yourself with other activities until you can respond to the situation calmly.
Show respect when dealing with other family members, friends and even strangers. Your child is watching how you respond to conflict and how you treat others all the time. Show him that you can speak up for yourself when necessary but that you can do so in a respectful manner.
Respond to Your Child's Behaviors Respectfully
Establish clear rules about respect. For example, say, "It's not nice to interrupt people when they are talking. You need to wait for your turn."
Set clear and firm limits and be prepared to give consequences when needed. For example, don't threaten to take away a toy over and over if he continues to misbehave. Follow through with what you say to teach him that you mean it.
Provide consequences for disrespectful behaviors. If your child hits you when he's angry, don't let it slide. Place him in time out or take away a privilege.
Talk to him about other ways to handle his feelings when he is upset. Role play how he can respond when he is upset or angry without becoming aggressive. Teach him to cope with his feelings by singing a song, coloring a picture or playing with a toy.
Praise him when you catch him being respectful. When he uses his manners, handles his anger well or waits for his turn in a conversation, don't let it go unnoticed. Point out how impressed you are that he behaved respectfully.
Reward respectful behavior with extra incentives. For example, take a child to the park if he behaves respectfully all day or allow him to stay up an extra 15 minutes later if he follows the rules without arguing.