Set rules and consequences regarding respect at home, at school and in the community.

How to Teach Teens to Have Respect for Others

by Kay Ireland

It can be difficult to predict your teen's mood -- one day, she's affable and friendly, while the next she might be moody and short-tempered. But no matter the mood, being respectful toward others should never be an option. By teaching your teen that respect is an expectation, rather than a choice, you ensure that she values others, their opinions and differences no matter what kind of mood she's in.

Set rules and consequences regarding respect for others, suggests Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of the Carolinas. Your teen should understand what's expected when it comes to the treatment of and attitude toward others. With those rules should come consequences for failing to show respect -- if your teen is disrespectful to a teacher at school, for example, she has to do extra credit assignments. Or, if your teen is disrespectful toward her sibling's possessions, you remove a possession that is important to her.

Teach your teen the Golden Rule and apply it to respecting others, urges the Michigan State University Extension. The rule that one should always treat others the way she wants to be treated can be called upon in tricky situations, like a confrontation with a would-be friend. If your teen comes to you with a conflict, remind her of the rule and that respect is a two-way street.

Embrace and celebrate differences in your home, at school and in the community. Disrespect in teens can sometimes be the result of failing to value those differences, be they cultural, personality or lifestyle. If you overhear your teen speaking negatively about another person or disrespecting a peer -- rolling her eyes because a classmate has certain religious beliefs, for example -- stop her and educate your teen on tolerance for others' religions. Encourage her to learn more about differences, rather than being critical.

Refuse to respond to your teen when she's being disrespectful toward you or others. If your teen uses inappropriate language toward you, try saying, "I'm sorry, I can't speak with you when you're being disrespectful. Why don't you go calm down and come and talk to me when you can control your language?" This sends the message that you will not engage with your teen when she's being inappropriate, critical or disrespectful toward you, setting an important precedent for behavior in your home.

Model respect for others yourself. If your teen sees you disrespecting a cashier at the grocery store, becoming physical when you're angry or using a sarcastic tone when speaking to her, she'll soon learn that respect isn't valued in your home. As child and teen development expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman, notes on her website, "If you want them to do it, you have to do it too." This is especially vital when dealing with your teen directly. Speak to her in a respectful manner and teach her to value respect for others using the power of a solid example.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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