Treating Kids With Respect


My Unschooling Book Series (26)

I’ve written about trust and unconditional love. I need to write about respect as well: Trust, Respect and Love Unconditionally.

These are some questions I’m pondering:

Can parents demand respect? Or do we need to earn it? Or is everyone, adults and children alike, worthy of respect because of our great dignity? Should we all have a respectful manner when interacting with each other?

Do children learn about respect by being treated with respect?

Could treating children with respect sometimes be inconvenient?

Do we sometimes fail to be respectful when we’re tired?

How do we show respect to our children? Is it about how we talk to them? And our willingness to listen properly and accept their opinions and choices and feelings? Is it about accepting that our kids know their needs better than us? And is it respectful to allow our kids to be who they are instead of trying to turn them into the people we think they should be?

Although I’ve been working on this for quite some time today, I’m far from finished. I have lots of words expressing muddled thoughts but nothing that I’m happy to share. But, of course, I need a post for today. What am I going to do?

I shall post a few paragraphs which might or might not change. And then I shall ask for your thoughts about respect. Perhaps you can help me out with some ideas of your own. As I said the other day, writing isn’t always about writing. Sometimes it’s about letting our thoughts percolate at the back of our minds. And sometimes it’s about listening to other people before continuing on.

Talking Respectfully to Kids

Years ago, when my husband Andy and I were young parents, we were friends with Harry and Martha who had similar-aged children to us. We’d meet regularly on Sunday afternoons, and while our kids played together, we’d sip wine and chat about all the things parents are interested in: our kids.

One day, we mulled over the topic of how we should talk to our children. How do we speak to them so they’ll do what we want?

Harry said, “It’s no good asking in a polite tone of voice. Kids won’t listen unless we show them who’s in control.” Martha nodded, “Yes, we’ve got to show them who’s the boss.” Their actions matched their words. They barked orders at their daughters.

I ordered my children around too:

“Stay away from the TV.”

“Don’t touch!”

“Come here.”

“Do this…”

“Do that…”

I had a niggling feeling that ordering kids around like this was wrong.

I continued training my kids to stay away from some things and not to touch others and to come to me instead of me going to them. (I wonder if my many commands floated over our neighbours’ fences.) And then one terrible day, I heard my words falling out of my daughter’s mouth: “Go away!”

I sometimes tell our dog to go away: “Go away, Quinn!” I cry as she drools all over me.”

My words never upset our puppy. She just grins and ignores me. (It would be nice if she obeyed.) It might be okay for me to issue commands to a dog, but what about my children? They’re not pets. They are people, just like me. Despite the differences in our ages, we’re equal in value and dignity. And so we’re all entitled to be treated with respect.

Someone’s achievements or personal qualities may gain our respect. But should we be respectful towards all people, children included, regardless of whether we think they have earned our respect? I hope you’ll stop by and add a comment or two about respect!

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  1. Reply

    I love it! The book is going to be wonderful!

    1. Reply

      Thank you, Venisa!

    • TL
    • November 29, 2017

    We should strive towards having respect for all, and kids repeat so much of what we do. If we are not respectful and kind, we can’t expect them to be so. I also noticed when parents bark orders and yell at their kids, their kids usually learn to tune it out, but the behavior and attitude suffer in the process. So it actually backfires and parents get results that are opposite of what they are trying to accomplish.

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, children don’t learn to be obedient and disciplined when we bark out orders. That’s a good point I hadn’t thought about. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nancy
    • December 1, 2017

    I always hoped my children would learn by example. As they saw their father and I modeling respect for others that they would in turn do the same thing. For the most part we are proud of how they conduct themselves especially around people who are not part of our family or even extended family. I would love to see them be more respectful to each other that is not always the case with our children in our home.

    1. Reply


      When I started out as a mother I didn’t realise how much I would have to change. I thought mothering was all about bringing up kids. I didn’t know it was about becoming a better person myself. Do as I say and not as I do just doesn’t work. Yes, we have to do everything we want our kids to do such as modelling respect. It’s not easy, is it? I often fail. It’s just as well we model forgiveness as well!

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