8 Highly Effective Ways for Teaching Kids Respect & How to Be Polite
Teaching kids the value of respect in a rude world. How to navigate disrespectful behavior without yelling. Teaching kids respect in 8 simple ways.
Teaching Kids Respect in a Rude World
Earlier this year, I experienced a new point in parenthood where my kids began rolling their eyes, talking back, copping an attitude and sometimes outright ignoring me when they’re told no or didn’t get what they wanted.
Ugh, the disrespect and rudeness!
It was maddening.
Which, if you know me or my husband, you know this type of behavior doesn’t fly in our home. Using manners and respecting those in authority, whether at home or in public, is a really important, and basic principle we want to instill in our children.
Soon after my twins started 2nd grade, they each came down with case of bad attituditis.
Basic manners they had mastered at the age of two like, “Please,” “Thank You” and “May I” seemed to have disappeared from their vocabulary all together.
“Can I please have a snack?” turned into “where’s my snack” after school.
Or, “thank you for dinner Mom” changed to “ugh, I think I’m going to barf!”
What about ultimatums? Do you have those in your house, boy did we! A couple that stand out were the ultimatum my son gave me when he lost one of his toys for hitting his sister and said, “if you don’t let me play with my toy, I’m not going to make my bed.”
Here’s another one overheard from the backyard between my girls; “If you don’t play the game I want to play, I’m not going to play with you at all!”
2nd grade was also the time they started learning works like stupid, dumb, jerk and lame, which when they put into the context of “this dumb game is so stupid” isn’t cool with this Mama.
When it was said during a round of family UNO one night, my husband and I looked at each other, declared the game over and had an impromptu talk about respect.
It wasn’t long before we turned things around, and I’ll touch on all the 8 ways that worked for us, so if you have the same “bad attitudeitis” in your house, you can kick it to the curb too!
Demand Respect and Squash the Disrespect
All this disrespect, manipulation, and copping an attitude had me annoyed and frustrated.
Showing respect for others should be a basic value all children are taught, but unfortunately when others are around who don’t have the same values, disrespect can spread like the flu during cold season.
I asked myself, What had happened to the respectful children I was raising? Where did we go wrong?
The thing is… disrespect has become a larger societal problem than we realize, and it’s being picked up by our children at school, practice and on the playgrounds.
While we were doing a lot of things right at home, we were also letting certain behaviors slide. When the kids went to school and picked up new things, it made the attitudes, the talking back and disrespectful behavior even worse.
Acting disrespectfully is another manipulation to help kids get what they want, just like crying and fussing worked as babies.
Think about it, from the time babies arrive, all they know how to do to ask for what they need, is to cry, scream, whine and fuss. It works because thats their only way of communicating until they learn otherwise.
(Psst…. emotion picture cards worked like magic when it came time to teach my three kids how to recognize, name and communicate what they were feeling.)
As they grow and their brains continue to develop, it then becomes a parent’s job to teach them how to talk, act and behave in respectful ways to get their needs met that don’t involve ways that worked for them as babies.
The most effective way to teach kids respectful behavior is to model it yourself, says Victoria Kindle Hodson, coauthor of Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids.
When we teach and model respectful behavior, we’ll end up imparting basic lessons about kindness, consideration, honesty, and empathy, as well as gratitude.
While you may start off with a strong foundation of manners and behavior, it’s easy for kids to get off track when they’re around others, but fortunately, it’s just as easy to get back in line with a little help from Mom and Dad.
We were able to turn things around at our home fairly quickly.
Here’s the cliff notes versions of what worked, but read on for the full detail on all 8 ways to teach kids respect below:
- Re-teaching good manners and praising them for polite behavior.
- Setting behavior expectations before we went anywhere.
- Acting quickly to curb disrespectful behavior when we saw or heard it. Waiting doesn’t do anyone any good and especially doesn’t teach any important lessons!
- Openly talked about respect and reinforced it with books, movies, and family discussions about being open-minded.
- You’ve got to give respect to earn respect.
Here are 8 simple, yet highly effective ways to teach kids respect and how to act politely.
1) Demand Good Manners
Teaching manners begins with toddlers and isn’t a fleeting formality. Being polite when taught early and consistently becomes an ingrained basic way of existing in this world.
When you help your child learn cues, and praise them for their good manners, you’ll be able to reinforce their behavior.
Once my husband and I noticed manners they’d long been familiar with were missing in our day-to-day interactions, we spent a lot of time reminding them to say “please” or “thank you” and asking them to help hold the door open for others, and then praising them afterwards. We also explained why manners are important and how much we appreciated their politeness and soon, we were back on track.
We still praise them and catch them using their manners, so we don’t slip again in the future!