In this noisy, busy, fast-paced world, how in the world are we supposed to raise respectful kids?
Kids who speak to us with respect and greet strangers with warmth and kindness. Kids who enjoy spending time with people of all ages, demonstrate hospitality and good manners? Kids who are responsible, grateful, kind, loyal, and inclusive?
How do we raise respectful kids?
How to raise respectful kids:
1. Treat each other with respect at home
It all starts in the home.
I believe this with my whole heart.
Is your home environment peaceful, loving, and full of acceptance? Or is there an underlying current of expectation, judgment, and insecurity?
How do you treat each other?
Now, please understand that in no way am I implying that we aim for perfect homes.
Life circumstances beyond our control will sometimes send our home lives into disarray. We all have plenty of “those days” where frustration and impatience run rampant.
There are seasons of life that are just plain HARD and things like financial stress, marital challenges, career pressures, and unexpected life circumstances result in less-than-ideal home environments.
But generally speaking, how do your family members treat each other?
Model respect in the way you talk to your partner and your children. Expect that same level of respect in return.
Value every single member of your family and show respect for their opinions, strengths, challenges, and feelings.
Create a foundation of respect within the walls of your home.
2. Hold the door open for people
How often do you hold the door open for strangers?
Regardless of age, gender, or physical ability, it feels good when someone holds the door open for you.
We’re often so busy rushing around that we fail to notice other people entering a building immediately after us. It’s easy to forget to stop and take a few extra moments to reach for a door handle and keep it open for someone else.
It’s a simple action that shows someone that they are seen and acknowledged.
And this is powerful!
Model this simple act of acknowledging people by holding the door open for them.
3. Spend time with people of all ages
Our society is youth-obsessed and often dismissive and disrespectful of older people.
Culturally, we also tend to be segregated by age. This age segregation is completely unnatural and the consequence can be blatant disrespect.
Not only are older folks worthy of our respect and admiration, but their lengthy life experiences mean that they often have so much wisdom to share. Unfortunately, they’re often dismissed and sometimes even made fun of.
Babies and toddlers need extra care and attention. So might neighbors and friends who are sick, experiencing a difficult season of life, or who have a disability of some sort.
And yet we often stick with others who are in our same general age and stage of life.
It’s so much healthier and vibrant to surround ourselves with people of all ages!
Not only are we missing out immensely, but we are often NOT showing up in life with the patience, kindness, and respect that we should be.
Spending time with people of all ages is an excellent way to become more respectful.
4. Acknowledge store and restaurant employees with respect
I am often appalled at how I see people treating the cashiers at the grocery store and servers at restaurants.
A lack of eye contact or greeting; and worse, sometimes an overall dismissive attitude, are terrible ways to treat our fellow human beings.
We have stressed from an early age with our children that everyone is worthy of kindness and respect.
Saying “please”, “thank you”, and “how are you?” are not difficult words to say. Add in eye contact and a smile and you’re treating someone with respect.
Don’t be the rude, dismissive customer who doesn’t take the time to act in a decent and considerate way.
Show the employees serving you the respect they deserve!
5. View household responsibilities as mandatory and a team effort
Everyone in our household has certain responsibilities they need to complete. Every member of our family has contributions to make and obligations they need to attend to.
This keeps our home running, (relatively!) smoothly.
We think of our family as a team and a united front, (even during those seasons where we don’t FEEL super united!)
Taking care of our home, even when frankly, it’s not very fun, is a way for us to respect our belongings and each other.
These household responsibilities are important ways to show respect.
6. Put your phone down
Our phones are constantly competing for our attention. And it can feel like a huge battle to set our phone aside and focus on the people around us.
We’re ALL guilty of this.
But unless there is an emergency you’re attending to, there is no reason to be on your phone while an actual real-life person is with you!
I know that there are times when little ones are at home with a sitter and you need to have your phone with you. I understand that many of us have jobs that require a vigilance to our technology at specific times.
Sometimes we have to be tied to our phones.
I get it!
If this is the case for you, be sure to explain to whoever you’re with that you need to have your phone out and be available if necessary. They deserve that respect.
They also deserve for you to then PUT YOUR PHONE down and pay attention to them!
Value the ones you’re with more than you value your phone.
7. avoid gossip
This can be such a tough one, I know.
It can be SO easy to slip into gossip.
But try as hard as you can not to.
Because gossip never ends well.
Gossip often results in hurt feelings, mistrust, tears, and sometimes even an end to a relationship.
If someone is gossiping to you about SOMEONE ELSE, you can pretty much
Talk about feeling disrespected!
Do your best to lift people up instead of gossip behind their backs.
8. Pick up trash when you see it on the ground
A simple action that shows respect not only for our fellow human beings, but for our environment, is picking up trash.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated, extravagant action. You don’t need to organize a beach or park clean-up, or spend half a day cleaning up in a local area.
Simply pick up any trash you see as you’re out and about.
9. Treat animals with respect
Aside from babies and small children, it’s tough to think of living beings more dependent on us than animals.
Do you have a pet or pets? Do you have friends and family members with pets?
How are these animals treated?
Is there scolding, yelling, and unnecessary punishment involved? Or is there an underlying tone of kindness, compassion, and respect?
Treating animals with respect is an excellent way to demonstrate an understanding that animals are dependent on us.
10. Learn about different cultures, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds
It is so easy to get stuck in our own echo chambers, surrounding ourselves only with people who believe the same things that we believe and who live a similar lifestyle.
But this is dangerous.
It keeps us isolated and out of touch with our surroundings.
It hardens our hearts and dulls our compassion.
While your family’s core values, including lifestyle, faith, and religion are important and should not be discarded, do your best to learn about other cultures, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
This opens the door to increased knowledge, understanding, compassion, and respect.
Here’s a quick summary of how to raise respectful kids:
- Treat each other with respect at home
- Hold the door open for people
- Spend time with people of all ages
- Acknowledge store and restaurant employees with respect
- View household responsibilities as mandatory and a team effort
- Put your phone down
- Avoid gossip
- Pick up trash when you see it on the ground
- Treat animals with respect
- Learn about different cultures, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds
I hope these suggestions offer you encouragement as you do the important job of raising your awesome children! Do you have any specific tips to add? If so, let me know!