Christian Parenting and Family Resources with Biblical Principles

Why It Is So Important to Teach Your Kids Respect

  • Karen Whiting Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 12 Oct
Why It Is So Important to Teach Your Kids Respect

Teaching children respect is one of the hardest tasks of parents and yet one that has far-reaching rewards for children.

Respect comes from the Latin word “respectus” that means attention, regard to consideration. That involves listening and caring about the other person.

That leads to accepting the person even when we disagree of do not approve of behavior and choices made. It takes time for children to move from thinking of their needs to thinking of other people’s needs.

Modeling respect provides opportunities to develop empathy and helps children see other people as valuable.

Here are 6 why's and 3 how's for teaching your kids respect.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio

  • 1. This World Will Always Have a Need for Respect

    1. This World Will Always Have a Need for Respect

    We live in a world with billions of people and that means we cannot always get our way. To get along, we need to care about one another and value the uniqueness of each person.

    The seed of respect starts with a parent noticing and caring for the needs of their baby. It grows as we point out the good in other people and how we should appreciate each individual’s uniqueness.

    Parents begin the teaching process as children begin to interact with other people and children as they learn to share and take turns. Parents also train children to use good manners and polite words to honor others.

    The teaching extends to showing the need to respect all creations, people, cultures, lives, property, and even national symbols. Respect is not something to be earned, although it can be lost.

    Everyone deserves respect because the image of God is within each person.

    Let’s consider the many benefits of respect as understanding those provides the fuel to persist in mentoring and teaching respect.

    2. Respect Is Key to Building Strong Relationships

    Respect builds trust and underscores our attitude toward the other person. When we value someone, we appreciate their talents and abilities and that opens us to listening to them.

    Because they are important to us, we treat them with courtesy and consider their feelings. Those are key in developing lasting relationships.

    Nurture respect for people by asking children what they like about a new friend or person they met. Share how to greet the person and make the friend feel welcomed when they visit. Remind them to use encouraging words and good manners to show courtesy and honor the individual.

    Read Matthew 7:12, the golden rule and talk about how that is the big idea of showing respect.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/LoveTheWind

  • 3. Respect Is Tied to Success

    3. Respect Is Tied to Success

    Teachers and people think more favorably of respectful children. That can open doors for them and even help them receive higher grades. As adults, they will more likely be hired, trusted as employees, and advance in their careers. Increasing respect is the simplest way for a business to improve productivity.

    Teach children to take pride in their chores and to do them on time. Help them understand that helping at home builds a better family life and makes your home safer and cleaner.

    This builds self-respect as they see their effort is valued. Affirm and approve completion of tasks to show you respect them.

    Praise people for what they do to make the world better, from the janitor and salesclerks to leaders. Let them understand that we all need to do our part and appreciate what others do whether it seems glamorous or not.

    Arriving on time for activities and thanking people for their work also shows that we respect their efforts. These actions of respect also make us trustworthy and kind, more attributes that help us succeed in life.

    4. Respect Is a Building Block for Peace

    When we value and appreciate others, we are willing to uphold their rights.

    We open doors of communication because we are willing to listen when we care about people, even if we disagree on some topics. It shows that we want to understand their perspective. This makes it easier to resolve conflicts and discuss ways to overcome obstacles.

    That helps people want to compromise for the common good and find workable solutions.

    Listen to your children when they respectfully disagree. Sit and let each person present his or her viewpoint and ideas. Pray for God’s wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    Choose what appears to be the best solution and agree to meet again to follow up on the plan. This helps children put respect into action and understand how to resolve conflicts. Knowing they have a voice helps to also bring inner peace.

    Children who feel valued are not acting out to get attention. They have healthy self-esteem and that gives them inner peace.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Santi Vedri

  • family gathering group hug

    5. Respect Brings Harmony at Home

    When children respect their parents, they accept their word and don’t nag. When a parent says, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ the child accepts the answer. They understand that mom or dad will enforce the consequence if they talk back or try to manipulate the parent into getting their own way instead of accepting the parent’s answer. 

    Practice following through with consequences and showing that complaints are not acceptable behavior. In our home if a child complained that a sibling received more ice cream or cake, we simply took a little from the complainer and added it to that sibling’s plate. That stopped the grumbling.

    If a child complained about a five-minute timeout, it became a ten-minute timeout and we changed the timer’s setting. That eliminated nagging and arguing. They could ask to discuss the problem quietly or submit a written proposal for a new solution or rule change. They respected us for living up to our word.      

    6. Respectful Children Make Better Choices

    Studies show that children who respect their parents also respect authority of teachers, law enforcement, and other leaders. They are less likely to give in to peer pressure and more likely to avoid poor decisions such as drugs, alcohol, and sex.

    They are also more likely to engage in meaningful conversations and relationships. With respect comes loyalty since they value people and that keeps relationships healthy.

    Show you respect and approve of your children by investing time in them. Spend time in play and activities they enjoy.

    Ask meaningful questions they can answer, such as what was one thing that made you smile today or what did you do that was hard?

    When they have a problem, ask how it makes them feel and what they think would be a good solution. Let them share how possible solutions and let you know the pros and cons. That shows you respect their feelings and believe they can come up with good solutions.

    As a result, they can better evaluate choices and avoid poor ones that have negative consequences.

    Let's now discuss 3 how's to help instill respect into your kid's hearts.

    Photo Credit: ©Pexels/August de Richelieu 

  • 1. Model Respect for Authority 

    1. Model Respect for Authority 

    Living with respect helps children see the benefit of respecting authority. It also helps for them to discuss how people in authority are usually there because they were selected or elected.

    Either way, that shows that a leader, a business owner, or the majority of voters believed in the person’s ability. We may disagree, but we need to respect the choice.

    Help children value your choices. When you pick one child to go first in a game or to divide up a treat, let them know they need to respect your choice.

    They will, over time, have their opportunities to lead. This helps younger children accept the authority of an older child to babysit. They will learn that as they develop skills, they can become leaders too.

    That helps them appreciate talents in community leaders and others in authority.

    Praise community workers such as firefighters and police. Also, praise repair people and anyone who serves them so they will notice how many people help us and make our communities safer and better places to live.

    2. Scriptures That Share God's Perspective on Respect

    Many scriptures relate to respect for authority and make good readings for discussing how to treat others.

    Jesus praised a military leader for his respect for authority in Matthew 8:5-13. Characteristics of spiritual leaders include respect in 1 Timothy 3:2, that echoes how to choose leaders in Deuteronomy 1:13-15.

    Children are commanded to obey their parents and that comes with a promise of good consequences, Ephesians 6:1-3.

    In 1 Peter 2:17, the believer is told to respect everyone. James 2:9 reminds us to be fair and not favor some people over others. Since Romans 13:1-7 teaches that all authority comes from God who is sovereign, then disrespecting authority is disrespecting God and his decisions. John 3:16 reminds us that God loves everyone.

    The Old Testament laws showed strong responses to disrespect with bringing children to the elders and stoning them for rebelliousness, in Deuteronomy 21:18-21. That’s a reminder that God is not pleased with disrespect.

    He wants us to follow Philippians 2:3 and John 15:17 to love others without putting our needs first. 

    Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Kaybe70 

  • 3. Continually Practice Respect

    3. Continually Practice Respect

    To nurture respect, continually focus on manners, putting others first, and listening.

    Be the parent and don’t try to be a pal or friend. They can make new friends, but parents are special and need to retain their authority. They are still the greatest influencers in a child’s life.

    That means you set the rules, the boundaries, and consequences. It also means you need to be authentic in your own actions of respect.

    Apologize when needed because that also shows you value the person enough to admit when made a wrong or hurtful choice. This will make a huge impact on your children as it shows your respect for them as individuals, too.

    Respect is something that needs to be cultivated over a lifetime, and mistakes will happen, but boundaries can be put back where they need to be.

    This little acrostic can be a guide for how to respect people. Post it and read it when children start slipping up and showing disrespect:

    Really listen to the person

    Esteem the person (see person as valuable; God loves him/her, God’s image is in him/her)

    Safeguard the person’s feelings with kindness and no teasing or gossiping

    Praise the person for his or her abilities

    Engage with the person: that means do something together

    Consider the person’s needs and how you can make him or her feel good

    Talk and use encouraging words

    Respect makes our children better people, for themselves, for God, and for everyone around them. What steps can you take from these lessons today?

    Photo Credit: ©Getty/MoMo-Productions 

    Karen Whiting is an author of 26 books including a Bible study and many devotionals. She has written more than 700 articles for more than sixty publications. She has served in Officer Christian Fellowship for decades including working with the ministries at the Coast Guard and Naval Academies (16 years total). Currently, she facilitates an adult Bible study group at her local church.