Respect is reciprocal. When we give respect, we also get respect in return. This is true in our relationships with our children as well. Let's take a look at several ways we can teach kids respect by giving it away.
1. Our Tone of VoiceThe best way to teach kids respect, as in all areas of character, is to model it. Begin by taking moment to listen to the tone of voice you use with your kids. Do you sound stressed out and tense? That may be because you have good reason to feel stressed out and tense, but try to remove those emotions from your voice when you're talking to your kids.
2. Our WordsOur choice of words is another way we convey respect to our kids. We teach them that not every thought that runs through their minds needs to be said out loud, and we must remember to do the same. Screen your words before you speak, and see if that doesn't increase the all-around respect at home.
3. Our TimingDo you find yourself frequently saying "in a minute?" We may say this phrase with good intentions, and it is appropriate for our kids to learn that we are human beings with responsibilities of our own that we must tend to. However, keep in mind that if we don't want this phrase reflected back to us when we ask our kids to do something, we should temper how often we use it ourselves.
4. Our Body LanguageAnother way to teach kids respect is through body language. Imagine that there is a mirror reflecting your every move as you talk with your kids. What does your body language look like? Does it show that you are attentive to what they are saying? Do you look up from your work and make eye contact? These are all small signs of respect, and taking the time to give this type of respect to our kids can increase the respect we get in return.
5. Our Use of SpaceDo we respect our kids' space within the home? This doesn't mean we should never enter our kids' rooms, but it does mean that knocking on the door would be a polite way of conveying respect. We also respect our kids' space when we fight the urge to push them to talk about something before they're ready.
6. Our Use of BelongingsWe may have strict rules about our children's use our belongings -- like our clothes, our make-up, or our sports equipment -- but do we respect our kids' belongings as well? Make sure that you take the time to ask your child if there's something you need to borrow.
We teach kids respect by modeling it and by giving them the respect as human beings that they also deserve. At times that means setting aside our own concerns and priorities to slow down and communicate in a more intentional, thoughtful manner. By examining the messages you give your kids in this way, you can increase both the respect you give, and the respect you receive.