There are certain lessons that will serve every child well to have learned by the time they are an adult. The younger your child learns these lessons, the better prepared they will be for life and all it brings their way. There are so many qualities that a child must learn to become a mature adult, so take each opportunity to help your child learn whatever they can from any situation in their life. Situations present themselves often, and these lessons are there to help us grow to become more well-rounded and useful individuals. As a parent you can use these as opportunities to guide your child in their personal journey to become responsible and respectful adults. I am sure you’ve learned these lessons already, but it is worth mentioning here because parents have often asked me “How do I guide my children in these areas?” During the month of November, I will be addressing these lessons in my weekly posts. Make sure that you are on the list so that you can receive each one. Let’s dive right in and talk about RESPECT…
This is one of life’s most important lessons. Respect is basically treating others as you would like to be treated. Without this quality, a child will find life to be very difficult. Respect will assist your child now because adults will view your child more favorably if your child displays this quality.
As adults we forget that children aren’t born with a built-in sense of respect for others. All children regardless of their unique personalities have to be taught to be respectful. Think about how babies are able to manipulate us in order to get their needs met… this is natural for them. But it’s our job as parents to teach them respectful ways of doing this as they grow.
It’s important to remember that your child is not your friend—your child is your child. Your job is to teach them to be able to function in the world. This means teaching him to behave respectfully to others and not just you.
Whether you are a Baby Boomer or Generation X, it is a different world right now than the one we grew up. Today we wonder why kids have gotten so much more disrespectful these days—we see children and teens arguing with or ignoring adults, using foul language, copping an attitude and not using manners or respecting those in authority. This just means that we have our work cut out for us and will have to work harder as parents to teach our kids to be respectful. Added to this already exhausting situation is the fact that parents are also busier than ever before, which makes it much harder to respond immediately to our kids. Let’s face it, it’s easier to let things slide when you’re worn out and stressed from working countless hours to feed, clothe and provide a home for them. Here are a few reminders to guide you as you begin to change the culture in your own house if disrespectful behavior lives with you.
Your Child Doesn’t Need Another BFF
It’s not about your child liking you or even thanking you for what you do. It might not seem like it, but your child needs you to set boundaries, teach the hard lessons and protect them. They don’t know what they don’t know…but you do. Your job is to coach them to be able to function in the world. This means teaching them to behave respectfully towards others, and especially you. When you think your child might be crossing the line, ask yourself, “Would I let the neighbor say these things to me? Would I let a stranger?” If the answer is no, don’t let your child do it, either. Some day when your child becomes an adult, your relationship may become more of a friendship, but for now, it’s your job to be parent: teacher, coach and limit setter…not the BFF who lets them get away with things and do whatever they want to do. Remember, your child can make many friends, but has been given one set of parents.
Address Disrespect Early
This can be a little difficult but it’s always a good thing to catch disrespectful behavior as early if possible. If your child is rude or disrespectful, don’t turn a blind eye. Intervene and say, “We don’t talk to each other that way in this family.” Giving consequences when your kids are younger is going to pay off in the long run. It’s really important as a parent if you see your child being disrespectful to admit it and then address it. I love it when Iyanla Vanzant says, “Let’s call a thing a thing!” Don’t be afraid to address disrespect. Plan your contingency in advance, don’t wait until it shows up. If you have young kids…they will eventually move into the potentially difficult phase…Teens! Trust me when I say these can be challenging years. Lay the groundwork now and fine-tune your skills to be prepared for their interactions at a later time. This will be very beneficial to you as a parent moving forward together as a family.
Make Sure You and Your Mate are on The Same Page
It’s so important for you and your mate to be on the same page when it comes to your child’s behavior. Make sure one of you isn’t allowing the disrespectful behavior while the other is trying to intercede. Children are truly brilliant when it comes to parental divide and conquer. If you both are not on the same page when dealing with disrespectful behavior…They Will Know. Sit down together and talk about what your bottom lines are and come up with a plan of action you both can agree on that lists of consequences you might give if your child breaks the rules.
Teach Your Child Basic Social Mannerisms
This one may sound old fashioned, but it’s very important to teach your child basic manners. Coming up I was taught to address adults with “please” and “thank you.” Today, I have to admit I don’t hear much of that. When your child deals with teachers in school or gets that first job interview and has these skills to fall back on, it will really be beneficial. Understand that using manners, just a simple “excuse me” or “thank you” is also a form of empathy. A dose of empathy teaches your kids to respect others and acknowledges their impact on other people.
Although adults should live in a way that commands instead of demands respect, many also expect it to be shown by children. Your child will be given more opportunities if they are viewed to be a respectful child. As an adult, your child will flourish in their personal and business relationships. The best way a parent can teach their child this crucial quality is to live in this manner themselves. Respect the people around you and don’t talk down about other individuals. Respect your child, which gives them the self-acceptance needed to grow in this quality, and lets them experience being on the receiving end of respect. Remember, your children imitate what they see you do, so if respect is important to you your actions must indicate it. Don’t miss next weeks posts. Join the Every Child Has a Story community. Our mission is to build self-esteem and confidence in today’s youth!
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