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Teaching Children and Teens to Have Respect

We want our kids to develop respect for others. We want them to be honest, cooperative and responsible. The payoffs for encouraging a youngster to show respect are huge.

Below are some tips for promoting a respectful attitude in your child (some of these tips may seem obvious – others may not):

1. Respect for money: Giving your youngster an allowance is a good way to help him respect and understand the value of money. But you must decide how much the allowance will be, taking into account your resources, your youngster's age, and what expenses the allowance will cover (e.g., lunches, clothes, church donations, entertainment, etc.). An allowance can help your child learn how to save and use money wisely.

2. Respect for sacrifice: If a youngster sees her mom and dad making sacrifices (e.g., "We're buying a used car so that we can save more money for a trip to Disneyland"), she picks up the cues.

3. Respect for sportsmanship: If you accept a loss on the basketball court graciously, your youngster can learn that winning isn't everything.

4. Respect for the law: If you say "no" to drinking alcohol before heading out on the highway, your youngster takes note.

5. Respect for honesty: If you tell a sales clerk that he gave you change for a twenty-dollar bill and not a ten, your youngster sees honesty in action.

6. Respect for good will: If you volunteer at a soup kitchen, your youngster will be more likely to have compassion for others who are less fortunate.

7. Respect for differences: If your son senses that his mother and father appreciate people of all races, he is likely to become more open to peers of all races and backgrounds.

8. Respect for choice over chance: Many of the major threats to our kids today are not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice (e.g., drinking and driving, smoking, drugs, sex, dropping out of school, etc.). Research tells us that children and teens who engage in one risky behavior are more likely to participate in others, so moms and dads should help their kids understand the potential risks and consequences of their choices. Fortunately, most kids share the values of their moms and dads about the most important things. Your priorities, principles, and example of good behavior teaches your children to take the high road when other roads look tempting.

9. Respect for needs over wants: Of course, meet your youngster's “needs,” but also guide her to set them apart from her “wants.”

10. Respect for values: Talk to your kids about good values and why they matter. Just as kids need to be guided academically, so too must they be educated in the values of society (e.g., take responsibility for your decisions, love your neighbor, do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, tell the truth, respect others, respect their property, respect their opinions, and so on).

11. Respect for people over possessions: The way that you view money and material goods molds your youngster's attitudes. If you see your self-worth – and the worth of others – in terms of cars, homes, furniture, nice clothes and other possessions, your youngster is more likely to develop these attitudes as well.

12. Respect for marriage: When a youngster sees her mom and dad treating each other with respect, she is more likely to follow this example in dating and marriage.

13. Respect for life’s challenges: When you accept disappointments as a part of life, and when you pick yourself up and keep going through the tough times, your youngster stands a better chance of becoming a survivor.

14. Respect for humility: When you can laugh at your own mistakes, your youngster is more likely to accept her own imperfections.

15. Respect for work: When you stick with a tough job until it’s done, your youngster will be more inclined to finish homework and chores.

At some point in their parenting career, moms and dads find themselves disheartened and aggravated. (e.g., "I can't believe my daughter is so rude and disrespectful. Where did I go wrong?!") Generally, there is no reason to fall to pieces if your youngster behaves impolitely from time to time – as long as she doesn't do it repeatedly. Disrespect needs to be recognized and dealt with. But you, as a parent, would do well to remember your own childhood – you turned-out OK. Your child will too.

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