As I mentioned yesterday, we can’t expect our children to be respectful by being disrespectful to them. It all start with us. When we treat our children disrespectfully, we are making them lose their respect for us. If our child is strong will, we will surely face rebellion and constant confrontation. If our child is more easy going, we might get temporary compliance out of him, that may resemblance respect. But as soon as he can make their own decisions, we will find ourselves wondering why he doesn’t respect us anymore.
How can we make sure our children grow up being respectful, not only to us, but to themselves and to others?
1. Define What Respect Is
We often get confused as to what respect means. Many of us equate respect with blind obedience. That is though, a dangerous goal to have when raising your children. Most of us would say that we want our children to grow up into adults who are self-confident, outspoken, curious, strong, determined… How will they grow up to be that when we don’t let them practice those characteristics when they are little?
We do our children a disservice, when we demand our children to do as they’re told, without questioning our requests; when we constantly tell them what to do and how to think; or when we expect them to never speak their mind. When we do that, we are not teaching them to be respectful to us, we are teaching them to be fearful of us, and to lose respect for themselves.
2. Set Realistic Expectations For Your Children’s Behavior
We sometimes forget that our children are that, children. We usually expect too much of them, too soon. There is usually a change in our expectations as soon as our child becomes verbal and mobile. We somehow assume that they can think rationally, that they can control their feelings, that they can stop and breathe when they get frustrated, that they can listen and do what we ask of them… That’s neither realistic, nor fair.
As adults have trouble regulating our own emotions at times. We have trouble doing what we set out to do or what we know we need to do. We make mistakes. We forget things. We snap out when we don’t sleep well… We are humans, and so are our children. Make sure you place unrealistic and age-appropriate expectations on your child, and that you are forgiving when the behavior is not as you expected.
Be consistent in your expectations. When you are lax one day and firm the next day, you are showing disrespect for the relationship with your child. It tells your child that you can’t be trusted and that the boundaries are not really there to stick.
3. Demonstrate Respectful Behavior
“We don’t generally give our children the kind of respect that we demand from them.” Jerry Wyckoff
Think about this. We often demand a behavior from our children that we don’t display ourselves. Let’s focus on teaching our child how to respect by respecting her, by treating your child as a person in the same way you would treat adults.
What better way to teach a behavior than modeling the behavior we want to teach? It is hypocritical to expect our children to respect us, when we don’t respect them. Would you respect someone who tells you that smoking is horrible as they light up a cigarette? Would you respect someone who tells you that you need to exercise and eat healthy as they sit around on the couch all day eating chips? The answer is no. The same goes with respect!
Respect cannot be demanded. It can only be earned. Let’s earn our children’s respect and they will grown up into respectful people.
Much love, Diana-