Your teenager is probably not going to learn how to respect others from contemporary music or pop culture. Like it or not, parents, teachers and other adults of influence must shoulder the responsibility of training young adults to consider others’ opinions, speak in kind words and to use manners. Respect is the foundation for a successful future, and a child who learns early on in life to show self-respect and respect others is already one step ahead.
1 Treat others politely and courteously to model respect to your teenager. Avoid yelling at people or using biting, sarcastic words. Act out the same behavior you want to see in your children. Use teachable moments, such as when you see other teenagers being disrespectful, to talk about better ways to handle a situation.
2 Set a standard of respect in your home with your immediate family. Disallow name calling, insults or negative talk about other family members. Forgive your children and spouse, and encourage them to do the same. Set high standards and expect your children to reach them. Catch your teen in a moment of showing respect to others and praise him for his words and actions.
3 Call your teenager out on negative, disrespectful behavior and correct it when you see it. Apply the Golden Rule and treat your teen the way that you want to be treated, even when you are redirecting his behavior. Show patience while your children are learning to treat people with respect, especially if they are tired, hungry or frustrated about something.
4 Reward teenagers for demonstrating respectful behavior at home and in public. Offer words of praise frequently along with a tangible incentive on occasion, such as tickets to the movies. Say, “I’ve noticed how kind you have treated everyone lately, and I wanted to show you how much I appreciate it.”
5 Allow your teen to communicate his frustrations or anger, and listen without criticizing him. Demonstrate how to disagree with someone’s opinions without disrespecting him as a person. Respect your child’s privacy as long as you do not suspect any dangerous activity. Honor his right to make some decisions for himself as you guide him into adulthood.
- You cannot respect others until you first respect yourself.
- Children develop self-respect by how parents interact with them. Show your teen that you think he is special and valuable.
- Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of the Carolinas: Teaching Children and Teens about Respect
- NC State University Cooperative Extension: The Value of Respect
- Michigan State University Extension: Teach Youth Respect -- Character Series Part 2
- Dr. Robyn Silverman: 10 Tips on Teaching Respect to Children: You Can’t Get It If You Don’t Give it!
- Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images