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R*E*S*P*E*C*T; Find Out What It Means to Your Child

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Find Out What It Means to Your Child

Respect means to be mindful, to pay attention, to show consideration, to avoid intruding upon, and to avoid violating.

~ The University of Main Cooperative Extension

By Linda Dobson

Rodney Dangerfield became a rich man making jokes about how he doesn’t get any respect, from his wife, doctor, or bartender. While poor Rodney has it bad, it’s nothing compared to the lack of respect children often encounter from friends, strangers, school personnel and, sometimes, their very own parents. And unless you’re Rodney Dangerfield, a child lacking respect doesn’t think it’s funny at all.

Let’s face it. Life is full these days what with the economy about to burst into flames, inflation, household chores, and the various activities of all family members. When your children attend school, that controls your schedule to such a degree that a portion of family time is lost to accommodate it, shrinking days even further.

Homeschooling and Time to Develop Respect

HappyFamily respectThis is just one reason homeschoolers quickly discover that respect is a two-way street much more easily addressed while spending increased amounts of time as a family. They realize respect is not something you can teach a child with a lesson plan, worksheets, and tests to see how much information stuck. Rather, a child learns respect through direct experience, by both giving and receiving it.

As I mentioned, this is a two-way street. Homeschooling also gives you, as parent, the time to give respect. I’m certain this opportunity for mutual respect plays a role in homeschooling parents enjoying increased time spent with their children. Mutual respect as an antidote to little or no respect for children improves parent-child relationships.

To help develop the positive habit of mutual parent-child respect, here are a few starting points for parents.

See also “You Might Be Making a Mistake While Considering Homeschooling If…

A Few Starting Points to Developing Respect In and For Your Child


When you are angry or upset, before speaking ask yourself: “Would I say what I’m about to say to my child to another adult?” I’m amazed when I hear parents speak to their children in public in a way they would never consider speaking to another adult. If you can remember to filter responses with this one question, you’re a long way down the road to improved respect for your child.

When your child is angry or upset, acknowledge the feelings. Imagine if for some reason you are upset, crying, and your spouse says to you, “Oh, for heaven’s sake – quit crying. It’s not the end of the world.” This wouldn’t give you the warm fuzzies about your spouse, would it? It doesn’t give your child the warm fuzzies about you, either! Acknowledge your child’s emotions, instead: “You’re very _______ about ________, aren’t you?” This opens up the door to communication, allowing your child to express what’s wrong in words and hugs instead of tears and temper tantrums.

Talk with, not at, your child. Often in stressful situations or when in a hurry, parents begin to give orders instead of requests, without explanation. Just as you would like to know why someone has told you to do something, a brief explanation of the reason for your request (as opposed to an order), helps your child grasp the situation while at the same time allowing for communication if he has additional questions.

Allow your child the benefits of making mistakes. Yes, you read that right! Despite the impression you probably got in school, mistakes are not horrid incidents; they are learning opportunities. Nobody on earth has reached adulthood without making many mistakes. Given that mistakes are such a normal, human happenstance, it serves no purpose to be upset about them. When you are mindful that mistakes are learning opportunities, as parent you’re in the perfect situation to help your child reap the benefits. (Give your own mistakes the respect they deserve, too!)

Keep him in the loop. By providing the courtesy of sharing information such as, “We are going to the store in 15 minutes” or “Grandma is coming next month and will stay with us for four days,” you allow your child time to transition and finish a task at hand and show consideration of her as an important member of the household.

Don’t tell others and then laugh about silly, stupid or otherwise embarrassing things your child did. Yes, every child is capable of doing funny things, but a child feels laughed at, not with, when this is done without his consent. This violates his privacy.

Don’t ignore your child while talking with others, while on the phone, or otherwise occupied. Ignoring someone’s presence as you engage with others conveys the message that the ignored is not important and unworthy of your time and attention.

Respect means as much to children as it does to adults. When children receive respect, they become respect-full. All of this can be summed up nicely as The Golden Rule of Respect: Respect your children as you would have them respect you.

What does R*E*S*P*E*C*T mean to your child? Everything. And it works wonders.

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