by Dr. Lorin Bradbury
Question: Can you give me tips on how to teach children to be respectful?
Frequently, children take their cues from their parents. If they are around respectful parents they learn respect; if they are around disrespectful parents, they learn to disrespect.
I came across an article by Dr. Robyn J. A. Silverman that provides some helpful hints in teaching respect. It is entitled, 10 Tips on Teaching Respect to Children: You can’t get it if you don’t give it! She suggests the following:
(1) Model it: If you want them to do it, you have to do it too.
(2) Expect it: When your expectations are reasonably high, children rise to the occasion.
(3) Teach it: Give children the tools they need to show you respect.
(4) Praise it: When you see or hear your children using respectful language and making respectful choices, recognize it and praise them for making positive, respectful decisions.
(5) Discuss it: Pick out times when you see other children using respectful or disrespectful language or behavior and discuss with it your children.
(6) Correct it: Be strong, firm and direct when teaching respect. At the same time, be sure you are being respectful yourself while correcting the behavior.
(7) Acknowledge it: Don’t just let things slide! Be sure to notice when respectful behavior is being exhibited and make sure to call them on disrespectful behavior!
(8) Understand it: Your children are growing and learning. Sometimes word choice and behavioral decisions are made because they do not have the correct words or behavior to relay “I’m tired,” “I’m frustrated,” or “I’m angry.”
(9) Reinforce it: Remind children of their good decisions so that they remember how it felt, the praise they received, and the overall experience of being respectful.
(10) Reward it: Respectful behavior should be something that children want to do without overindulgent rewards. However, it is good to associate respectful behavior with intangible rewards such as praise, recognition, extra responsibility, and privileges.
She goes on to say, “Teaching respect takes patience, time, and a willingness to do as you preach. It takes years to rear a respectful child and only moments to fill one with anger and disrespect.”
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]