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It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You try hard as a parent. You do so much for your children, but they’re frequently not respectful toward you. Sometimes they ignore what you say, or they talk back to you. They even ask you to stop nagging.
I’ve spoken to and worked with close to 25,000 children and teenagers so far, so I know what will get them to respect you as a parent. When I say “respect”, I’m referring to a sense of admiration and honour that your children have toward you. I’m not referring to your children feeling afraid of you.
In other words, if you want to get your children to respect you, you’ll need to earn it. Here are some tips that will help you to do just that . . .
1. Respect your children
Children learn from watching you, and they’re likely to copy your behaviour. When you demonstrate basic respect toward your children, they’ll demonstrate respect toward you.
I’m not saying that you should let your children walk all over you. But I am saying that you shouldn’t belittle or shame them, nor should you criticise them harshly.
2. Focus more on the relationship than the rules
You don’t need to throw out the rulebook. Just show your children that you value the parent-child relationship by speaking kindly to them and trying to understand their perspective.
3. Be a person of integrity
Be honest when talking to your children. When they see that you’re a person of integrity, you’ll gain their respect.
4. Don’t overreact
Try not to overreact to your children’s less-than-ideal behaviour, even when you’re feeling stressed.
When you stay calm and respond appropriately, they’re more likely to respond in kind too.
5. Assume your position as leader of the home
Being a leader isn’t just about being in charge. It’s also about setting a good example and inspiring others to do their best. Behaving like a leader also means being compassionate.
When you empathise with your children, they’ll be more open to your suggestions and opinions.
6. Share your values and beliefs with your children
You can’t force your children to adopt your beliefs. But when your children understand why you believe what you believe, they’ll recognise that you’re a person of principles.
7. Be reasonable (especially when your children are being unreasonable)
Sometimes it’s frustrating being a parent, but try to stay calm. Remember that the way you behave when you’re angry is the way they’re likely to behave when they’re agitated too.
Be the bigger person, and don’t resort to name-calling or cheap shots – even if you feel like your children deserve it.
8. Don’t be overly critical of your children
When parents are overly critical, their children start to resent them and become rebellious and argumentative.
Instead, acknowledge your children’s good behaviour and focus more on the process than the end result.
9. Listen to your children
Part of being respectful is listening to the other person. When you listen to your children, you’ll find they’re more likely to listen to you.
This is especially so if you use active listening techniques, as described here.
10. Involve your children in the process of setting rules and boundaries
When you involve your children in setting rules, they feel valued. Just like adults, children appreciate having control over their lives.
Of course, this doesn’t mean they get to set whatever rules they want. It means you’ll listen to their views and take them into account as you seek to arrive at a no-lose solution.
11. Respect your children’s privacy
As children and teenagers get older, they need more privacy.
Just as you wouldn’t want other people reading your journal entries, text messages and emails, you shouldn’t infringe on your children’s privacy in that way either.
12. Set an example for your children to follow
Your children are watching you, whether or not you realise it. Demonstrate the behaviour you want to see in them, and practise what you preach.
If you don’t, your children won’t respect you.
13. Acknowledge your children’s effort and good behaviour
Your children want your approval, so it’s important to recognise their effort, particularly if they’ve tried hard. This principle applies even in situations when the outcome isn’t ideal.
When you appreciate their efforts, they’ll feel proud of themselves, and they’ll feel motivated to try hard next time.
14. Don’t discipline your children when you’re angry
When you’re angry, you’re more likely to overreact or say things you might regret.
Instead, show your children that it’s OK to be angry, but that it’s possible to manage your emotions effectively.
15. Ask for your children’s opinion
Your children will feel more appreciated and respected if you ask for their opinion. You can ask them where they’d like to eat for dinner, or what they’d like to do for your family time activity.
Doing this demonstrates that you value their opinions, which means they’ll be more likely to value your opinions too.
16. Be firm but kind
Sometimes your children won’t agree with your decision. In such situations, the key to preventing arguments – and tears – is to be firm but kind. Don’t let yourself be drawn into an argument.
Hear your children out, empathise with them, but stick to your decision if it’s an issue that’s non-negotiable.
17. Don’t assume that you understand how your children feel
When your children share their problems with you, don’t tell them that you know exactly what they’re going through.
You’ll form a better connection with them if you ask them how they feel and do your best to understand their perspective.
18. Seek to understand your children’s emotions
This point is related to the previous one. Especially when your children are displaying problematic behaviours, get to the root of the issue.
My experience tells me that, at the heart of it, it’s almost always an emotional issue, so you can’t just focus on “fixing” the problematic behaviour.
19. Establish clear expectations
When expectations are unclear, there’s room for misunderstanding. Establish clear expectations with regard to curfew, homework, chores, family commitments, etc.
This will reduce the number of conflicts that arise between you and your children, which means that your parent-child relationship will grow stronger.
20. If you lecture your children, keep it short
It’s best to avoid lecturing your children. But if you find this to be impossible, then keep the lecture short – ideally 10 minutes or less.
If the lecture is too long, your children will tune out and just pretend that they’re listening, when they’re not.
Read on for another 30 more tips at 50 Ways to Get Your Children to Respect You.
This article first appeared on www.daniel-wong.com. Republished with permission.
Tags: Parent-Child Relationships /Teenage Issues
Daniel Wong specialises in helping teens to become both happy and successful, and he shows parents how they can help too. He is honoured to have been called a learning and teen expert.
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