We’ve all heard the saying Respect is a two-way street, yet as parents, a lot of us forget this saying extends to our kids as well.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and it’s easy to go into overdrive with our roles as parents, telling our children what to do and when to do it. Yes, our children need authoritative figures that they can rely on, figures who are in charge, who set routines and can take control of a situation. But our children also need us to be respectful in how we go about asking for a lot of the things we need or expect from them. And here are just a few ways to help us accomplish this.
Giving Our Children Choices
Yes, choices! Something as easy as choices could allow your child to feel respected and the older the child, the more this will be appreciated. For example, you want your 15-year-old to clean their room. You could walk up to your child who is sitting at the dinner table drawing, and say “ I want you to clean your room right now”. Which may work, although I’m not sure how good your child feels right about now. or instead you could try, “I’d like for you to have your room cleaned by Sunday (currently Tuesday)”. Once your child acknowledges your request, you can follow-up by letting them know what the consequence for not coming through will be. “If the room is not cleaned by Sunday, I will take your phone away for 3 days”. Make sure both of you clearly understand each other. “So, we both agree that you will have your room cleaned by Sunday and if you do not have it cleaned by then, I will be taking your phone away for 3 days. Are we both clear?” By setting clear expectations of what you expect and what the consequence for not coming through will be before hand, there will be no false expectations on either end or unpleasant surprises at the end. Allowing your child to choose, which day they will allot themselves the time to clean their room so that it’s ready by Sunday, shows them that we respect them and their time, it gives them a sense of independence, and a taste of time management, responsibility, and of being held accountable (in case things don’t go as planned).
Do As You Say
It is very important that you hold up your end, and always “do as you say”. That means, no bickering about a dirty room all week-long and also follow through and take the phone away for 3 days if the room is not cleaned by Sunday. No matter what! Our children need to learn to make choices for themselves, they need to learn how to prioritize, and also, when needed, how to accept responsibility and accountability for their actions or lack of, if they fail to come through on their end.
Your children will not only appreciate the respect you are giving them but are likely to want to return it, by holding up their end of the deal.
Don’t Yank Them Away Without Notice
Not expecting our children to jump when we say jump is another way we can show our children that we respect them and their time. Instead of and without any warning, “You need to stop or put that down, I need you to do this now”.
You could try:
“as soon as this tv show is over”, “as soon as you are done reading that chapter”, or “as soon as you’re done with your snack”
I would like…
“you to help me with a few chores”, “to speak with you”, or “you to start your homework”
Are you in the middle of something? I’d like….
These simple adjustments to how we interact and communicate with our children, such as allowing them to finish whatever they are working on, lets them know that we respect them and their time.
Of course, I understand there are times when things need to get done, right now. With children it’s often a case by case situation but in these instances, approach them calmly and phrase your request wisely.
The way We Speak to Our Children
As parents we set the example, and our tone and our choice of words have a huge impact on our kids. Therefore we should take the time to think before we speak and ask ourselves. Are our words kind? Are our words helpful? Are our words loving? Is my tone appropriate? Yelling and swearing/insulting, please stop if you are guilty even in the slightest bit. (I yell sometimes, but I immediately catch myself and bring me back down from cloud rudeness) Yelling silences our message and the smaller our children are, it can scare them. Swearing/insulting, my goodness, if there is anyone who thinks it’s okay to swear or insult your children, please know that it is a horrible thing to do to such innocent beings. I’ve met parents who don’t address their children with kind words and their reason, ‘that’s how they were raised’ so, unkind words, yelling, swearing it comes so naturally to them’. The thing is, each of us has the power to shift or push away our negative behavior and start fresh. These “disrespectful ways or bad habits”, are well worth our investment in time, so that we can pull away from them. Especially, since they can have a negative and/or lifelong impact on our children. Why would we do it, knowing this? Why wouldn’t we want to change knowing this?
We need to speak to our children respectfully, not only to pave the way and show them how it’s done but also out of love and respect.
Respect Should Be a Part of All Our Interactions With Our Children
Respect should be given just as natural to our children as we give it to our teachers, or co-workers, or whomever else. Our children are our children, yes, but they are people, and every single person has the right to be respected. Some parents have said, “they are the kids and they need to listen” I agree to a certain extent. Not because we are older and we are the parents and they are younger and they are the children but because we are experienced and have been given the gift of parenthood and they are inexperienced and have been blessed to us and deserve the best from us. We are their teachers and champions. Therefore the way we do things, express ourselves, and treat others matter tremendously; as parents, who are trying to teach our children the ways.
We are helping to shape our children, every single day, through every interaction. Let’s make sure we try to give the best of us in EVERY interaction with them.
Thank You for Reading!
(Listening to: Harvest Moon- Neil Young)