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Teaching Children Respect

Updated on February 19, 2015
Respect can become a big issue during the pre-teen years.
Respect can become a big issue during the pre-teen years.

Everyone says it, and we all know. Many children are disrespectful to each other, to parents, to teachers, and to elders. Why?

Not all kids are disrespectful, but I think most would agree that generally children exhibit more disrespectful behavior today than in generations past. We still have a lot of good kids around, but we also have more bullying, more profanity, and more violence instigated by children.

So what is a parent to do? How do you encourage your child to be respectful?

First, and foremost, realize children learn by example. You are the role model. Respect others around you, even when you get angry. Don't start cursing out the driver who cuts in front of you, don't yell at your spouse, and don't call the neighbor who does not agree with you "a jerk." Respect the people around you because little ears hear everything you say and little eyes see everything you do. Children start learning as infants, and they learn from you. A good rule to follow: if you would not say or do it in front of your grandma, you shouldn't say it or do it in front of your child.

As an infant becomes a toddler and learns to talk, start teaching them manners, and insist on the use of manners in your household. This starts with "please" and "thank you" and continues with asking and not demanding. Remember, young children have to be reminded over and over again. Remind them and encourage them; give them verbal praise when they remember to be polite on their own. Remind them when they forget -- they're still learning.

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As children get into to school, they will likely be introduced to profanity and other rude behaviors. They will likely come home and try out these behaviors in your home; set limits immediately. Children need to understand that rude behavior is not acceptable, and if it happens, there will be a consequence. With young children "timeout" may work, but as children get older, you may have to come up with another consequence. Losing privileges can be quite effective if the privilege is important to the child. At our home my son is required to write an apology to me for the misbehavior; this usually acts as a deterrent, and he really does not want to take time to write apology letters, so he quits doing the bad behavior.

Whatever you choose as a consequence, you must be consistent. Children must always follow the rules of the household, and if they break a rule, talking back for example, there must always be a consequence. Consistency is key!

Monitor what your child watches on tv, what music s/he listens to, what information they're looking at on the computer. Media today is loaded with images of people being disrespectful to one another. We've all heard the old adage "Monkey see, monkey do," well, children, in some ways, are like monkeys. Watch what your kids watch!

As children get older and the misbehavior becomes more severe, the consequence needs to become more severe. If your teenager swears at you, the consequence should be loss of something they value-- like use of the car.

Parenting is difficult, but it is important that we establish the value of respect in our children. This is not the teacher's job, this is not society's job.This is the parent's job!


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    • bspider profile image


      11 years ago

      It's a shame that a lot of children are not taught respect. Respectful children are a joy to be around.

    • JadedPoet profile image


      12 years ago from Chillicothe MO

      Great hub. As disrespectful children are the biggest bane of my existence, as a disabled person (I HATE being stared at, the worst passive aggressive rudeness there is), I am always glad to see someone else trying to encourage manners. The problem in many cases seems to be the parents are little more than ill bred children themselves. My neighbor's neice is pregnant, at age 12, or all things! I fear for her child, and for those her child will meet later in life.

    • profile image

      Julie A. Johnson 

      12 years ago

      lori, Thank you, and you make an important observation. tv shows, and even cartoons, often display characters who are rude and obnoxious! You have to monitor what your child watches. Thanks for your comments. Julie

    • lori763 profile image


      12 years ago from SWFL

      Great hub!

      Parents do have a tough job today (e.g.countering the influence of the "cute" kid on tv who is really rude and obnoxious) but it is made harder when they do not follow what you are recommending.

    • Julie A. Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie A. Johnson 

      13 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Yes, unfortunately some lose respect for themselves too. Hopefully, over time attitudes will turn around. Thanks matryx. Julie

    • matryx profile image

      Ron Cripps 

      13 years ago from Australia

      Gret Hub and yes children seem to be losing respect for everything now not just their parents or peers.

    • Julie A. Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie A. Johnson 

      13 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Thanks Amy and Ripplemaker. As children get older, they seem to get a bit rebellious and test limits, and parenting seems to become more challenging. My oldest child, who is now 22 and married, got a bit snotty around 15-16. The teen years can be quite trying for both children and adults, and you just have to stick to your values.

      Thanks ripplemaker for reminding us that consistency among all the people involved with a child is very important. I totally agree.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      13 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Yes it is true that this task is a challenging one. But for consistency, the parents as well as the teachers (even relatives and caregivers) should work hand in hand. Good points! :)

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 

      13 years ago from Connecticut

      I agree, julie, that this is the parent's job and it can be a very challenging one! Thanks for sharing your helpful insights into this topic. :) I find it very difficult to effectively change the behaviors my oldest daughter is picking up at school...the general attitude is really upsetting!

    • Julie A. Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie A. Johnson 

      13 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Thank you, Bride. Yes, many of the shows on tv made for kids display violence and disrespectful responses. Just keep reinforcing the values you want to teach, and sometimes, if something inappropriate comes on tv, talk to your child about why the behavior on tv is wrong. It's impossible to monitor everything. And the bottom line is: you are still the biggest influence in your child's life!

    • The Bride profile image

      The Bride 

      13 years ago from Toronto

      this is a good article. I agree with you, there are many more disrespectful young ones out there these days. I have a 5 year old son who picks up almost everything he watches on tv. I think the tv programs made for children these days are too violent and give out the wrong message toour young ones. We reinforce rules and manners often but i find it so hard to control the sources they are learning this behaviour


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