There is a difference between obedience and respect. It is easy to get children to obey, but they may do it without respect. However, if you can teach your child to respect you, themselves and others, then teaching them to obey is much simpler. When a child respects a parent then they will obey out of love instead of obligation.
Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
God promises long life to those who both obey and honor (respect) their parents.
Teach Respect by Showing Respect
You need to model respect for your child. Your child needs to see you being honest and respectful with other people. Telling them to respect you and not respecting others makes it difficult for a child to follow your teaching. This includes the way you speak about your spouse and co-workers. In front of your boss you may display respect, but remember that your children hear how you talk about her at home. It is possible to get your children to respect you, but are they being equally dishonest when they disrespect you in front of their friends? They learned that from you.
Modeling respect includes complimenting your children and trusting them. Be equally fair to all your children. Of course age differences dictate that you give more responsibility to one child than another, but do your best to give the younger one the same responsibilities you gave the older one at their age. Your children will remember, even if you don’t.
Keep promises to your children and pay attention when they speak. Each one of these actions will help you children learn respect by the way you treat them. Point out respect and disrespect when you see it. This teaches your child that others can see when they are respectful and not.
Teach Your Child to Respect Himself
By giving your child responsibilities and independence you are giving him opportunities to show his own strengths. Believe that your child can do the job you have given him to do. Help him be successful in the tasks you give him. Each success will help him gain more self respect.
Help your child set and achieve personal goals. Don’t patronize your child, but don’t give him unrealistic goals either.
Rules Can Be Teachers
Create rules for yourself and your child. This doesn’t have to be anything formal, but let your child know that you do certain things for certain reasons. When he sees you respecting your own set of rules it will help him learn self discipline and respect.
An example of this is that I have a friend who will only wear white shirts when he preaches. There is no rule in his church which requires this. But as a personal area of self-discipline, he has chosen to do this. This is a man who has raised children who each very successful in their fields and attribute their success to the self respect they learned from their parents.
It is hard to respect a liar. When you get too much change let your child know you are returning the extra and why you are doing it. While it is true that “more lessons are caught than taught” don’t assume your children will learn without occasional deliberate teaching opportunities.
Show Love and Acceptance
Your child won’t always do what is right. You should never accept their sins, but let them know you accept them as individuals. Do you speak disrespectfully about other people when you see them doing wrong? You should point out the wrongdoing, but still respect the person in the process.
Your children need to know that their actions have consequences. This may include punishment by you as a parent. While you are punishing their wrong actions, you need to also let them know you love them. Tell them specifically you love them. They may not respond lovingly during the punishment, but they will know whether you are punishing them out of love or anger. Discipline with love.
Don’t tolerate your children being disrespectful to one another or other children they hang around. Your children should learn to respect their siblings, family members and school mates.
Let your children know when they have done something well. Let them know it makes you happy and proud as a parent. Some of the most difficult words I heard as a child were that I had disappointed my parents when I did wrong. That shaped my life more than the physical discipline I occasionally received. Because my parents regularly told me that I made them proud with my good actions, I wanted to continue to do them. Praise your children when they do right.
I hope these seven tips for teaching respect will help you and your family as your children grow. The wonderful thing about making the effort to teach respect is that others you are around will take notice. Learning respect will also help your children throughout their lives. Not just while they are in your home.