When you ask your kids to start their homework or get ready for bed, do they respond right away or drag their feet? When they lose a game, do they move on gracefully or erupt in anger? When they disagree with others, do they consider other perspectives or insist on having their own way every time?

Respect is the core of all successful relationships, so it’s a crucial skill to teach your kids. If you teach your kids to respectful instead of rude, you’ll bring out the best in them and bless them with the ability to build strong relationships with God and other people their whole lives long.

Here’s how you can raise respectful kids:

Be proactive rather than reactive. Train your kids to be respectful instead of just reacting to their problem behavior with punishment. Understand that if you invest the time to help your kids learn how to be respectful and motivate them to do so, you’ll prevent many problems of disrespect and enjoy a positive relationship with your kids. Realize that the investment is worthwhile.

Set a good example. Recognize that your kids’ bad habits may be a reflection of your own habits. Take an honest look at your behavior and see what you need to change in order to demonstrate respect successfully to your kids. Consider the following areas: How you talk to your kids, the amount of time you spend with your kids, how you express frustration, the tone and volume of your voice when you correct your kids, the way you work through family problems, the reasonableness of your expectations in relation to the ages and understanding of your kids, how you joke with your kids, and the consistency of your devotional times. After you identify problem areas, surrender those areas to God and enlist the support and encouragement of someone close to you as you move toward change. Decide on specific action steps to take, such as apologizing to your kids whenever you lose your temper with them or complimenting your spouse in front of your kids often. Ask the person who is supporting you to hold you accountable to follow through with your action steps.

Help your kids learn fast listening. Explain to your kids that whenever you ask them to do something, they should respond the first time, quickly, and without arguing or complaining. Tell them that they can respond either by saying, “Okay, Mom,” or “Okay, Dad,” or by asking a question in a respectful way (such as “The show will be over in five minutes.  May I please wait until then to turn off the TV?”). Have your kids practice their fast listening skills in different situations, such as: putting toys away, getting ready for bed, starting homework, cleaning their rooms, helping with the dishes, coming in from playing outside, and turning off a video game. Keep each practice session short (between two and three minutes) and fun. Give your kids plenty of encouraging comments when they demonstrate good fast listening skills.

Teach your kids flexible thinking. Show your kids how to be flexible when things don’t go their way. Help them emphasize the positive aspects of a situation and quickly release their disappointment, rather than letting anger overtake them. Think out loud as you deal with frustrating scenarios in your own life, so your kids can get to know your thought processes as you approach various situations with flexibility. Emphasize these points when encouraging your kids to develop flexible thinking: Relying on God to help them handle daily challenges, putting things into proper perspective, letting the little things go, thinking of others ahead of themselves, and considering a different point of view. Work with your kids to create a short list of flexible thoughts that they can memorize and put to work whenever they encounter a frustrating situation. Consider such thoughts as: “It’s no big deal,” “Even though I lost, I still had fun,” “Everyone makes mistakes,” and “I can handle it.”