If someone asked you to explain respect, where would you begin? It may be a simple word, but how do you define it?  There are multiple associations within the meaning of respect, such as acceptance, kindness, courteousness, understanding, positivity and diversity.


Many of these words can be taught more easily than others, however respect is more abstract. It plays a large role in our adult lives and in that of our children’s. It affects how they interact at home, at school, and in their social lives. We all know what respect is and we display it many times a day, but how do we pass it along to the little minds that look up to us?


Teaching respect comes naturally

Teaching our children to use manners and to be polite, especially at home, can be a challenge at times. The attitude we sometimes get when we ask for help with cleaning, or the complaints we hear about a healthy dinner we’ve made, is frustrating. As much as we encourage our children to have their own opinion, being respectful is key. The good news is we naturally teach respect without being aware of it. From the corrective “Can you say please?” stage to the guiding “I think you owe your brother/sister an apology” stage, we tend to correct and teach as we go.


A really good way to establish any sort of guidance with our kids is to talk to them. It’s good to have a simple conversation just to see what they already know, and depending on their age, what they’ve learned at school. Chatting over dinner or while we’re outside in the backyard is a great time. It’s not confrontational and it gives us a chance to sneak it into the daily conversation. Talking With Trees (@momstoryteller) provides a great breakdown for explaining respect to kids.


The best way to receive respect is, well, to display it ourselves


I’m sure we’ve all heard that saying.   Although we try to be polite at all times, it can be hard when a demanding child shouts at you for a juice box. Children know how to push our buttons, and that’s where our parenting guidance comes into play.


Our children look up to us the most. They watch our every move, from the age of two when they learn to talk to a teen applying for their first job. Can you feel the pressure? It’s important for us to be a reflection of what we hope our children will be one day. After all, respect is a value that is learned by viewing and doing.


Here are a few tips we’ve come across on being a positive role model, even when our kids are stretching us to the limit:


It’s the quiet voice that works – when our children call us names to get a reaction out of us, the best way to handle it is to get face to face and speak quietly. Give them an example of respectful words to use, instead of negative ones.


Talk about it at another time – In the moment of disagreement, feelings are not always in the right place for learning. Sometimes it is easier to calmly let them know that you can talk about it later. By letting emotions settle, it gives us both a chance to have a calm conversation that can lead to constructive thoughts.


Reward the positive behavior – This is the most important part. Even though children have their ways, they learn quickly and they aren’t afraid to test their new skills. When we notice respectful behavior it’s important for us to acknowledge it with positive reinforcement. Thank them for the kind words or the kind behavior. It will make them feel special.


For more tips on modeling respect for your children, check out Baby Center. (@BabyCenter)


Parents need to play, too

A really fun way to guide and teach our children is to do activities with them. A lot of the time we focus on incorporating these lessons into our daily lives, but it’s okay for us to have some fun too! Kids of Integrity has a long list of games that instill respect in a variety of ways. From respecting neighbors and animals to recognizing their own behaviors.


I Can! Kids encourages new learning experiences through reading! Our book My Special Talents helps kids discover the unique and special talents that are within every person including themselves.


“Marlin the squirrel loves to talk and each time he does, you feel unique and special. Just as you should every single day! You are unique! You are special, just the way you are!”


Our personalized children’s books help parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches show children when they believe in themselves, and have confidence they will achieve their dreams and when they have respect for others, they will find success in their lives. To learn more about I Can! Kids or to personalize a book of your own, visit www.icankids.com.


Do you have a story of your own or know anyone in the community that deserves to be recognized for their respectful behavior? Leave us a comment for a chance to be featured in our next I Can! Kids blogpost. To stay connected, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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