"If you're wondering how your kids got to be so disrespectful, here are a few things to look out for," says this mama:
- Do you respect yourself? Are you modeling kindness and that each person has value in the way you treat yourself, your spouse, and your friends?
- Do you respect your kids? We're not talking about letting them get away with everything. But random slapping, yelling, and intermittent punishments are disrespectful to anyone - children and teens included.
- Do your kids know what's expected? Do you consistently follow up with consequences (praise or discipline) when they've been asked to do a chore or come to you?
- Do you sometimes overlook or laugh about their disobedience or disrespect to others? That's confusing, NOT cuteness! The first adolescence starts just before age 2. What you emphasize and reward in toddlers is what you reap in their teens.
- Do you support authorities? Schools, churches, and sport events set goals and consequences to train kids in self-discipline, life skills, and getting along with others. Ignoring guidelines and blocking consequences shows your kids they don't have to respect those looking out for their safety or helping them work toward goals. If Blake's teacher tells you s/he needs to stay for detention, support the teacher! If Kerry's coach puts her/him on the sidelines for bad behavior, let your kid learn to follow instructions. (These authorities have other things to do besides look for punishments for kids; they WANT to be on your kid's side.)
- Set realistic goals. We had "these three expectations by age 16" for our kids: read (you can find out any info); understand math (for calculations); and have good manners (so you can help others and others are happy to help you.)
- Are you polite? Do you expect good manners from your children? They have lots of chances to practice etiquette on the phone, holding the door for others, getting in the car, waiting in line, speaking in an "inside" voice, etc. People notice - and respect - children who are respectful to them.
How did your parents or mentors teach you respect? (We're not talking about abusive submission!) What are you doing to teach your family to be liked and respected by others?