Showing Respect to Your Children
Respect is essentially an understanding that all people and things have value. Showing respect is easy – all you have to do is treat people the way you would like them to treat you.
Respect is the key energy of any good family because it brings everyone together. Families built on respect can handle whatever challenges that may come along including divorce, bereavement, redundancy, or any other of life’s ups and downs. Families don’t die from their setbacks but they can wither and die from the energies of negativity, sarcasm, taunts, and guilt.
Respect is not the same as being your child’s friend or equal. Remember, you’re the parent. Sometimes you need to assert your authority in ways that a mate can’t. Children can easily become confused if their parents depend on them emotionally, particularly during a divorce or in times of stress.Your child needs full freedom to act her age and have a carefree childhood as much as possible.
Respect isn’t measured by whether people agree with you but by how they behave towards you when you disagree. A parent who shows respect and unconditional love to the most difficult child in the family (at that particular time) creates a culture of trust that the whole family can learn from. Respect simply means speaking politely to your children, valuing their opinions, paying real attention and not interrupting when they’re speaking to you.
Children naturally look up to their parents and want to be like them. So if you are being a respectful role model, your child will respect you and develop the skills and behaviours required to respect others. Of course, children with behavioural problems may require professional support, but generally speaking, if you treat your children with respect, they will respond with respect towards you.
Even when children are contrary, rebellious, or argumentative, they’re probably not behaving in these ways out of spite. Rather, they’re going through particular stages of development and are trying to assert their individuality and control over their own lives.
Many parents worry too much about whether their children respect them and don’t think enough about whether they treat their children with respect. I feel distressed when I hear parents tell their children to ‘shut up’ or when they say things that humiliate or embarrass them in front of others. I suppose these parents are demonstrating that they have the upper hand and are more powerful. Unfortunately, these actions do nothing to enhance a child’s self esteem or create family respect or unity.
When your child speaks or acts in a disrespectful way, the first question you should ask yourself is, ‘Why do I think my child did this?’ Not, ‘How can I make my child respect me?’ Think about the ways you show respect to your children. Jot down all the ways you speak, act, and behave around your children in different situations.
You can show respect in the way you communicate with your child:
Recognize the difference between ‘talking at’ and ‘talking with’ your child.
The difference is rather like ‘laughing at’ or ‘laughing with’ someone. Parents need to guard against the conversation that always feels like a lecture or a nag. These one-way dialogues can be very demoralising and boring for a child. Children, just like adults, want to be heard.They want their point of view valued, not corrected.
Choose your expressions carefully.
Expressions such as ‘Don’t answer me back!’, ‘If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it!’ or ‘You’ll understand when you’re older!’ are rude and patronizing. You may be in a hurry or stressed, so the best thing to say is that you’re going to use your authority and you’ll explain to them later about your decision. If you’ve built up a culture of respect in your family, your child will understand.
Agree to disagree.
You can help your children understand that reasonable people can disagree and are able to discuss their disagreements respectfully. However, at times you, as the adult, may have to make the final decision because you have greater wisdom and experience than your child.