It's not easy to raise children. In fact, it's incredibly difficult. It's a constant dance to make sure that you are encouraging and inspiring, yet providing firm enough boundaries to keep them on the right path. One of the most important elements of raising children, and one that makes the task a lot easier, is respect. And it needs to be a two-way street: Children must respect their parents, but parents must also respect their children.
Children Need Parents, Not Dictators
One of the most important things to remember is that you must be fair and consistent with your children. They need to know that you say what you mean and you mean what you say, but also that you are fair. If you keep the lines of communication open and are willing to discuss things with them, it will go a long way toward building the respect you're looking for. Your children will know that you will listen to them, and you will know that they will be open with you.
Children Need Parents, Not Peers
As your children get older, you will find that you start relating to them differently. They develop a better sense of humor and can participate in interesting discussions. As this happens, it is important to make sure that you continually remember that you are your child's parent, not friend. You want to have a good relationship with your children, but if you as a parent are acting more like one of their peers, this will not earn their respect. They will see you as someone who is fun and crazy, but not someone they can look up to and admire. Remember that your children don't need you to be their friend. They have enough friends. They need you to be their parent -- someone they respect.
Children Who Are Respected Will Respect Others
Don't forget that it is important for you to respect your children as well as have them respect you. Showing respect to your children by listening to what they have to say, honestly talking with them, and being fair will help them as they develop into adults. They will learn to show the same type of respect to others, and will also develop a strong sense of self-confidence. This will help them in their relationships throughout their entire life, first with teachers and friends, and then as they get older and start their own family. Respecting your child sets a strong foundation for healthy interactions.
Children Who Are Respected Will Respect Themselves
If you make it a priority to respect your children, in addition to the benefits in their relationships with others, they will learn to respect themselves. Your children will see that they are valuable and worth your time and effort, and that they deserve to be treated with basic kindness. They will have a firm sense that they are important, and the confidence and security this produces will be displayed in their actions.
Respect is Earned, Not Demanded
Finally, remember that respect is something that is earned, not demanded. This goes for both parents and children. There is something almost laughable about a child who stomps her foot and throws a screaming fit because her parents aren't showing her any respect. But as ridiculous as this seems, too often parents throw their own version of a temper tantrum, putting their foot down and yelling at their children that they will show some respect or else. As you try to form a relationship with your children based on mutual respect, never forget that they are watching you and learning from you, and will copy your behavior. Act in a respectable way, and they will respect you. No yelling required.