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How do I teach my child respect?

by Ines Wurbs

The best way to teach children respect is through parenting as a role model. It sounds easy. But why are there so many children and young people without respect?

The answer is, that being a good role model is not as easy as everyone thinks. Here you can find out what’s important so that your children are respectful.

Parents are role models

Children learn a lot through imitation and observation. In fact, they are excellent observers. Therefore, they also notice behaviors, we are not really aware of. This also applies to these behaviors, in which we do not act respectfully. But nothing is unseen.

What does it mean for a child to be respectful?

Actually, a traditional phrase that everyone has probably heard. “Children can’t even say hello these days.”

Actually, true. It can often be observed that children do not greet other adults. Depending on how old you are, you may remember times this was very different. We had to say hello. Right. I also had to curtsy, my teacher. But, there we have the point: We” HAD TO “. A classic example of the authoritarian parenting style is: “Do it!”, “That’s how it should be!”, “Period.”

Exercising power and unthinkingly demanding obedience have great and serious disadvantages. For our children, this harbors the risk of developing developmental delays in the emotional, social and cognitive areas. Difficulty concentrating, aggressive behavior, strong social withdrawal, and poor performance is only a small part of it.

Be aware

Of course, symptoms can have a variety of causes and do not only develop as a result of authoritarian education.

Why is my child disrespectful?

Countless parents and grandparents deviate from this outdated style and live a freer, more open style. No matter what parenting style that might be. Coercion and the exercise of power are not part of most other parenting styles.

We often read or hear that we raise our children to be disrespectful. This is mainly because parenting styles are freely interpreted, and often the associated rules are not applied. However, many behaviors from the authoritarian style have become a part of us and our parents. Putting pressure on and exerting power on our children very often happens unconsciously and casually. However, our children notice this quickly. And it is precisely at this point that we do not show respect to our children and do not set a good example for them.

The top 6 parenting goals

This imbalance was shown in a 2018 study by Ispos on the educational goals. The entire sample of 1,000 people aged 14 and over showed that the educational goals are still based on “traditional values”.

Willingness to help60%
Top 6 parenting goals for all ages

However, the group of 14-24-year-olds has other goals :

Top 6 parenting goals of 14-24-year-olds

Respect is not found in the top 6 educational goals among adolescents and young adults. For them, this point tends to take a back seat. This is of course also age-related and can be explained by other variables. But shows an interesting trend.

There are significantly more criteria in the young age group that aim at professional success and go in the direction of self-realization. Whereas, the top 6 of all age groups mainly show values ​​that are important for human interactions. Respect comes second here and is to be understood as respect for others.

But respect is also important so that we don’t raise any egomaniacs and tyrants. Yet people who respect other living beings, who show respect and who are shown respect.

Here is also an interesting work about educational goals, parenting practice, and adolescents’ academic achievement.

Treating our children with respect in everyday life

How are we supposed to do that? After all, as parents, we also have an educational mandate.

There is nothing wrong with, for example, explaining to children why we greet other people under different circumstances. Asking them to say hello isn’t wrong, either. As always, setting the tone makes the music. 

10 tips to teach and show your child respect

As already mentioned, the best way to teach children respect is to set an example. With the following tips, you will be able to raise your child/children with respect.

Tip #1

Explain to your child in advance why we behave in a certain way. This may well be necessary more often. So, why and in which situations do we greet or why do we let others finish speaking?

Tip #2

Practice these behaviors with your child. You can do this easily at home. Simple role-playing games are best here and are very natural for our children.

So next time, let the dinosaurs communicate respectfully. Only then the roaring begins. 

Tip #3

Give your child time and space to practice the desired behavior on their own. Don’t point it out to your child right away, but give him (or her) a chance to do it on his/ her own. This increases motivation and takes the pressure off.

Tip #4

Please never expose your child in public! We act disrespectfully in this case and can damage the child’s self-confidence.

Tip #5

If necessary, give your child a hint, calmly and objectively. Without reproach!

Tip #6

Discuss these things privately with your child, and give them praise or repeat what a better approach could have been.

Tip #7

Also, consider the external circumstances. It is not always equally difficult or easy for children. Greeting a large group of strangers isn’t easy for every adult, either. A friend of the same age, on the other hand, does. 

Tip #8

Be careful. Don’t force your child to do anything. Especially not, if it is not receptive to your hints in a situation. Notice if your child is perhaps anxious, has just woken up, or whatever. In such situations, insisting on the behavior makes absolutely no sense. It only leads to arguments.

Tip #9

Try to be respectful to your child, too. Take feelings, words, and expressions seriously. A “no” is a no, even with a child. Don’t feign freedom of choice when there isn’t one. If your child says he/she is scared, don’t try to tell them, they’re not scared. Take that as a fact and try to explain and most importantly, be there for your child. Often all it takes is proximity.

Tip #10

Treat your child like other family members or friends. And most importantly, how you want to be treated yourselves.

Show respect to your child

Imagine a typical family situation. I like to pick dressing in the morning as an example. But any other situation that is exemplary for your family can also be used. An intense situation is best, of course.

  • Go through each point in your mind. What do you say to your children?
  • Now imagine talking to your partner or your best friend like this!
  • And? Would you talk like that to someone else who needs your help? 

If the answer is no, you are by no means alone. Even if your answer is yes, you are not alone, of course. Unfortunately, many of us tend to exercise power over our own children in times of stress. It shortens a lot and is simpler. But, it puts a strain on our relationships with our children. It shows our disrespectful behavior and negatively influences our self-confidence. 

Learn how to empower your child in this article.


It is clear that we parents sometimes have to exert pressure, or it just happens to us in everyday life. This isn’t the end of the world. But overall, the direction should be right. We parents cannot and do not have to be perfect. Nevertheless, we should treat our children with respect and pay attention to the spots we still have room for improvement. It is often quite automatic behaviors and sentences that slip out without us consciously noticing them. And most importantly, it doesn’t occur to us that we’re being disrespectful.

Try to pay attention to this in the near future. Especially in stressful situations. You will be amazed.

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