Teaching Our Children To Be Respectful

There are a lot of children today who are allowed to be disrespectful to their parents. These children are also allowed to be disrespectful of other people including their property and privacy. The Bible, however, tells us to “bring up a child the way he should go…” Proverbs 22:6. That’s an active, involved and purposeful endeavor. Not a passive, hands off, and limited effort.

A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone. – Billy Graham

There are a lot of adults who are allowed to be disrespectful to others as well. Sometimes it’s yelling. Sometimes it’s rudeness and unkindness. Sometimes it’s an attitude of entitlement that says, “It’s just fine for another person to work but not for me.” Our reaction to these children-in-adult-bodies should be similar to our reactions to disrespectful children in that we should not reward their behavior. Their disrespect should not earn them what they want.

Some children who are allowed to be disrespectful to their parents grow out of it. Fortunately, in these cases, they are influenced positively by someone else and change into respectful individuals. But some of these children grow to be adults who continue to disrespect their parents and others.

Let those of us who are parents insist that our children be respectful. That they develop an attitude of helping others and a mature ear to the words that come out of their mouths to others. Instead of being allowed to watch parents do all the household chores, our children should be expected to help.

The punishment for not helping shouldn’t be yelling. But there should be consequences for a child who refuses to help with family chores. Today’s technology can be a useful tool. The child who pitches a fit when told to be helpful to parents or family might be well served by having a tablet device or cell phone taken away for a couple of days. No need to yell about it. Just calmly say something like, “Chris, because you are refusing to help, you won’t be allowed to use the iPad for two days.” Then walk away with it before your child has a chance to yell or in spite of their yelling.

Yelling and fit-pitching should be ignored when possible in order to show our children that these actions will get them no where. In fact, we should show them that these actions, rather than gaining them an audience, will remove it and leave them alone with the useless sounds of their defiance.

Consider the actions and reactions of Jesus. When others acted inappropriately, He didn’t stoop to their level. He didn’t yell and pitch fits when people weren’t behaving. He was above that. No matter their level of immaturity or immorality, He didn’t forget who He was. That didn’t mean that He didn’t become upset. But in His life we see an amazing model of the Proverb that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).”

When a child yells, we, as parents, shouldn’t yell back. We actually lose power when we join a yelling match because we have resorted to the tactics of a child. We have basically said to our child that our words and authority as parents are not enough, so we have to yell to compensate. We have also shown the child that he/she can get to us and “rile us up.” We shouldn’t grant them or anyone that power. We should, in fact, show them the opposite, even if we have to fake it at times – that our child is unable to get to us to the point that we become childish.

If we act like children ourselves when we aren’t getting our way, we are sending conflicting messages to our child. No matter how your child acts, remember that you are an adult. Show her that an adult doesn’t pitch fits or yell when we don’t get our way – even if we aren’t getting our way with our child’s behavior.

children_playing_tagTalking isn’t always required. Many times a child simply needs to obey without being reasoned with. But there are also times when speaking with an objecting child, especially a child nearing or passing ten years old, can be helpful.

It is within these conversations that a child can learn about relating to other people. It doesn’t have to be complicated.¬†Perhaps something like this:

“Sarah, it isn’t fair that you sit and watch TV while your mom cleans up the kitchen by herself. Just like it wouldn’t be fair for you to clean up a mess your sister made while she watches TV. It’s really that simply honey.”

Or, “Sarah, I love your mother. So I won’t allow you to yell at her that way. Just like I wouldn’t allow someone to yell at you that way. That’s not how we treat people we love and I know you love her so I expect you to stop. To help you remember, I’m going to put up the iPad for a two days. When you want to use it and can’t, you’ll be reminded that your actions were wrong and should be changed.”

That’s when you thank her for listening and walk out. If she is calm and has a reasonable question, you might stay for a bit. But if she is disguising a complaint as a question or is yelling/pitching a fit, don’t give her an audience. Walk away. It’s important to walk away because you shouldn’t let her think that it’s okay for her to yell at her father or mother. If you stand and take it, you’re showing her that it’s okay for her to yell at you and that you’ll interact with her in that way. I suggest a simple response before walking away. Say something like this: “I won’t talk with you if you’re going to yell.” Giving her a chance to correct her actions can be a good learning experience. But if she doesn’t correct it right away, don’t allow her to yell at you. It’s bad for her and bad for you in addition to being bad for the rest of your family to overhear. It’s important to show your child that when he/she yells, they become less effective rather than more. Many adults need this lesson as well.

Insist that your children be respectful and model it for them. The result will be a more peaceful household, better relationships and respectful children who grow to be respectful adults who relate to others instead of using them. It won’t always go smoothly or perfectly. But even in those choppy situations, you have an opportunity to show your child how an adult should behave – especially an adult modeling Jesus. Please share this article with other parents on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter with the buttons below.