Raise Respectful Kids in a Disrespectful World
- Friday, October 13, 2006
Rude behavior, back talk, whining, foul language, and a lack of manners all show how commonplace disrespect has become in today’s society. With so many poor role models around them, it’s easy for your children to sink to that same level. But when you teach them respect, you teach them to value themselves and others – and that will make them blessings to the world.
Here’s how you can raise respectful kids in a disrespectful world:
Build self-respect instead of self-esteem. Realize that seeking to build your kids’ self-esteem will teach them to focus on themselves, how they feel, and what they want. Make it your goal to help them build self-control and self-discipline, which will lead to self-respect and place their focus on how others feel and what others need. Teach your kids to serve others rather than expecting to be served. Encourage them to contribute to the world rather than expect the world to give to them.
Be the person you want your kids to become. Command your children’s respect by modeling what it looks like to be a respectful person. Ask God to help you live with integrity in all areas of your life, and to guide your speech and behavior. Know that when your children respect you, they can more easily respect God, others, and themselves.
Focus on character. Don’t be a parent-centered parent (focusing on your own desires above what’s best for your children) or a child-centered parent (focusing on your children’s desires so much that you overindulge them). Instead, be a character-centered parent, focusing on producing strong character in your kids. Make decisions with your goal in mind. Rely on wisdom from the Bible, which is timeless, instead of the latest trend from pop psychology. Keep the promises you make to your kids. Keep your priorities in the right order: God, spouse (if you have one), children, others, and self.
Use age-appropriate approaches. Help kids ages birth to 2 years old build trust by establishing routines for them, setting a consistent schedule, and showing them that you’re in charge. Help kids ages 3 to 5 years old build a sense of security by offering them recognition, paying attention to them, and showing them that they belong in your family. Help kids ages 6 to 12 develop the ability to obey by building a close relationship with them, listening well to them, and being authentic. Help kids ages 13 to 19 to develop self-respect by giving them responsibility, enabling them to discover more about themselves, and transferring accountability to them.
Emphasize purpose rather than performance. Examine your motives for trying to help your kids succeed. Ask yourself: "Do I want my child to be Number One? Or do I want my child to be the best he or she can be?" Don’t focus on what you want your child to do. Instead, consider who you want your child to become. Realize that character qualities like perseverance, honesty, and responsibility are much more important than academic knowledge or skills from extra-curricular activities. Ask God to help you inspire your kids out of a heart of love instead of pushing them out of a heart of selfish ambition. Help your children uncover their strengths and weaknesses by giving them plenty of opportunities to try out different activities, then looking for patterns to emerge. Ask: "What kinds of things is each child interested in?," "In what areas does each excel?" and "What things give each child joy?" Expose them to nature, good literature, museums, art, history, and other pursuits that can expand their horizons. Don’t push your kids to be perfect, realizing that they never can be. Instead, simply encourage them to do the best they can. Accept your children for who they are, and don’t compare them with each other or classmates. Give your kids enough downtime for unstructured play on a regular basis, since they need that time to develop their creativity. Encourage them to build a close relationship with God through frequent prayer.
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