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March 21, 2018

How Can I Teach My Kids to Be Respectful?

“Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”
(Albert Camus)

 

“Being disrespectful” is a big one on many parents’ minds. Especially when your kids talk to you in ways you wouldn’t have dreamed of speaking to your own parents. Here’s the problem: you can’t teach someone to respect you by demanding them to respect you. You can only earn it by how you respond.

 

It’s paradoxical: Our kids respect us when we don’t need them to respect us.

 

It can start with something like this, said to your oldest, one-on-one:

 

“You can talk rudely to me if you want; I cannot control what comes out of your mouth. You, though, cannot control what I do in response; that’s up to me. So, you now have a choice: continue talking that way to me, or not—that’s up to you. If you do, I want you to know two things:
1) I will not get upset, because you’re not that powerful; and
2) You will not get to watch a screen of any kind for the next 24 hours.”

 

In this way, spoken in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, you are the one respecting them first. You respect their power and responsibility to control themselves, and thereby retain the power and responsibility to control yourself.

 

Peace begins with pause,

 

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