Gaining Respect from Kids is a Two Way Street!
First, you cannot make anyone respect you. Respect is earned. As a parent, respect starts with you! Parents need to demonstrate respect and treat children politely and respectfully if they expect to receive respect in return. Parents also need to role model respectful behavior toward others. It's confusing for children if parents act rude or disrespectful but expect respect from their children. So be aware of your own behavior.
If you find that your buttons are being pushed and you are acting unreasonable, then you have lost control as a parent and are not demonstrating respect. As the parent, you need to remain calm and set limits with your kids instead of getting into emotional conflicts. When you get drawn into the battles, your children have won, and you'll find that you're not acting very respectfully.
Be one step ahead of the game by preparing a set of behaviors and consequences that you can discuss with your children. If your kids are old enough, they can help with the process. Write out some problem behaviors and some consequences, and post them in your home. Consequences need to be reasonable and age appropriate. This way, your kids will know the consequences ahead of time.
If you see one of them demonstrating a problem behavior, you can give him one warning. If the behavior doesn't end, you can calmly refer to your consequence chart and give him the consequence. If you're prepared, it's much easier to stay calm and act respectfully, even if you are doling out consequences!
In addition, teach your kids how to be respectful. If you hear your child speaking to someone disrespectfully, gently let her know that her choice of words is not o.k. Help her think of ways to express her feelings without being disrespectful. For instance, have her say, "I don't like when you call me names" instead of "stop it jerk".
Finally, don't forget to praise your children's respectful behavior. Let them know when you see their respectful behavior. Slowly, you'll start to see more respect in you home if you stay calm and show respect too!
by Joanne McNulty, MS