Dear Dr. Robyn,
My wife and I are having a disagreement about whether or not my brother’s use of “strong language” is affecting our kids. They’re 6 and 3 and at times, copy what he says or does– but usually don’t do it when he leaves. Obviously, we want our kids to show respect. How can we ensure it?
—Joe P, Toronto, ON
Children will take their cues from those they trust. Simply put, if children are around respectful adults, they’re more likely to show respect. When they’re around disrespectful adults, they’re more likely to show disrespect.
Yelling, cursing, shouting over, and sarcasm are transferable. On the flip side, so is speaking with
kindness, consideration, and care. Children will copy the behavior they see- so it is best to keep
disrespectful language out of your home.
Here are 8 Tips for Teaching Respect and Curbing Disrespect:
(1) Model it: If you want them to do it, you have to do it too.
(2) Expect it: When your expectations are reasonably high, children rise to the occasion.
(3) Teach it: Give children the tools they need to show you respect. The lessons you’re children will be learning in class this month will be great springboards for discussion.
(4) Praise it: When you see or hear your children showing respect, recognize it and praise them for these choices.
(5) Discuss it: Pick out times when you see other children using respectful or disrespectful language or behavior and discuss with it your children.
(6) Correct it: Be strong, firm and direct when teaching respect. At the same time, be sure you are being respectful yourself while correcting the behavior.
(7) Understand it: Your children are growing and learning. Poor choices can be made when children don’t have the correct words or behavior to relay “I’m tired,” or “I’m angry.”
(8) Reinforce it: Help children to remember how it felt, the praise they received, and the overall
experience of being respectful. It is best to associate respectful behavior with intangible rewards such as praise, recognition, extra responsibility, and privileges.
Teaching respect takes patience, time, and a willingness to do as you preach. Of course, it takes
years to rear a respectful child and only moments to fill one with anger and disrespect.
Here’s to your success!