"You're not the boss of me!" When your little one screams this at you, it may seem laughable, and you're probably tempted to narrow your eyes like a bad guy in a movie and smart off, "Wanna bet?" Before you embark on teaching your children to respect family members, though, you need to know that it's not an easy journey. Getting a child to be compliant is far simpler than teaching respect, but respect is worth the work. Those little angels underneath your roof will soon be hormone-driven adolescents, and if they've been raised in a respectful environment since toddlerhood, you're more likely to have talkative teens than sullen, sassy ones.
1 Watch the sarcasm. The first step is the hardest, and you have to start with yourself. Do you wisecrack with friends, your spouse, or even your children? If your child talked to you in the same way, would you think she was being disrespectful? Do you tease or belittle? Even if you mean no harm, find out if your child likes your teasing nicknames. If she doesn't, respect that and apologize.
2 Set house rules that foster respect. Keep it simple with toddlers and preschoolers: "Speak nicely without shouting." "No name calling." "You can't take something without asking." The rules you set will give you a foundation to start talking about respect. When your kiddo breaks a house rule, you need to point out how what he did was disrespectful.
3 Catch kids in the act. "Honey, will you pick that up and bring it here?" "Yes, Mommy." "Wow! That was a very respectful way to answer me. I really appreciate it!" Every time you catch your child asking nicely to share or speaking respectfully to you, point it out -- and make sure you use the word "respect" to help her understand what it means.
4 Check the entertainment. Try listening to the sitcoms and shows you watch with a different ear. If you watch an episode of "Good Luck Charlie" together and laugh when Gabe cracks wise about his mom's cooking or his brother's intellect, it'd be a good idea to discuss it. "If Gabe did that in real life, he'd be in trouble. It's very disrespectful because he was saying something mean to his mommy and brother." And as for your own viewing, maybe watch your shows that are heavy on the sarcasm and disrespect after the kids are asleep. This way you can also enjoy them without sharing the good chocolate.
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