Discuss confrontational issues calmy with your child.

How to Teach a Pre-Teen Respect

by Karen Hollowell

Parenting is challenging regardless of the age of your child, but it can be especially difficult when your child reaches the preteen years. Children in this age group are struggling for independence, as well as changing physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. When adjusting to all these factors, they might act and speak in disrespectful ways. Expect to need a good bit of patience as you live through this time your child, but you must also firmly guide your preteen so he understands that his actions and words have long-lasting effects.

Define respect. According to the Focus on The Family website, respect is courteous treatment of others. It's important for your child to understand that respect is essential even when you are upset with something or someone. For example, talk about how to communicate respectfully. Explain that even when you are angry, it is disrespectful to yell or interrupt someone when he is speaking. Make it clear to your preteen understands that yelling, slamming doors and rude retorts are examples of disrespectful behaviors.

Sit down with your preteen to discuss and establish consequences for disrespectful behavior. Ensure that he understands and accepts the rules and consequences. Work to keep the lines of communication open even if your preteen is confrontational, but don't argue with him, advises Education.com. For example, if a discussion about completing homework before going to a friend's house turns into an argument -- and your child "talks back" and begins to yell -- calmly tell him that he can choose to stop yelling or he will have to accept the agreed-upon consequence, such as losing phone privileges for the weekend. If he persists, enforce the consequence. Sometimes, your child might continue to argue. If this happens, tell him that you will not talk about the matter further until he can approach you respectfully.

Model respect. You might not be aware of times when you demonstrate disrespectful behavior in front of your child. Do not talk to her in a demeaning manner or make fun of her when she makes mistakes. Be quick to apologize when you do this. Remember to avoid the actions that you won't tolerate from your child like arguing and making negative comments about others.

Remind your child of the long-term effects of being disrespectful. Instead of nagging or constantly berating him for disrespectful actions and words, reinforce the importance of kindness and politeness to others. Tell him that he will encounter many authoritarians in college and at the workplace to whom he must show respect even when he doesn't like them or agree with their views. Emphasize the importance of acting and speaking respectfully now, so that it becomes a habit that he will already have when he reaches adulthood.

Praise your child when he exhibits respect to you or others. Child and teen development expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman recommends praising and rewarding respectful behavior. Be specific about the action or words that you are praising, no matter how small. For example, tell your preteen that your appreciate the way he opened the door for the lady at the post office. If you have a disagreement about a curfew, thank him afterward for the calm manner in which he spoke to you. People like praise -- and preteens are no exception.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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