From every plant to every animal, from the highest mountains to the deepest seas, from unborn babies to the bodies of the deceased lying in their graves, should we not accept, appreciate, and respect everything and everyone on Earth? Respect is the foundation for honor and integrity, the base from which trust and safety evolve and reciprocate in all relationships.
Benefits of Respect
The benefits of respect (or consequences of disrespect) can make (or break) our future. Showing appreciation and empathy for others’ perspectives can help us make more informed decisions. By showing respect, we are less likely to struggle with anxiety or worry about conflict with potential enemies. Feelings of safety and security grant us the privilege of a more positive outlook. When we show respect, people are more likely to respect us, and more willing—and eager—to support us.
Even when we disagree with someone, respect infuses conflict with a certain open-mindedness, potentially helping both sides benefit from a deeper understanding of the things that truly matter. Mutual respect improves the likelihood of negotiating a mutually beneficial resolution. Ukrainian educator, Vasyl Sukhomlynsky, wrote, “The right to be respected is won by respecting others.”
As important as it is to show respect, we must first respect ourselves. Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi said, “I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.”
Causes of Disrespectful Children
If children observe dad modeling disrespectful attitudes and behaviors, they will be inclined to imitate us. Physical states such as hunger or tiredness can escalate emotions. Problem-solving skills and coping mechanisms of younger children are not yet fully developed; less able to rein in their emotions, and they tend to lash out when overwhelmed. Whether accidental or deliberate, disrespectful attitudes and behaviors are more common whenever mounting tensions intersect with the heat of the moment. Remember, children have difficulty splitting their attention; if they’re laser-focused on a task and something interrupts their concentration, system overload may provoke disrespect.
When expectations and consequences are consistent with both parents, children win. Without continuity, mixed messages undermine optimal learning, growth, and childhood development. With a united front, parents can establish standards, rules, and structure. Together, mom and dad can stand behind an effective parenting plan to instill respect.
As with all healthy parenting approaches, consistency is best. Fathers should remain calm and self-confident in the face of adversity. We must set limits. We must set the tone. If children are rude or disrespectful, deal with it swiftly. Say things like, “We don’t talk to each other that way in this family.” When children receive consistent reinforcement, everyone benefits.
If children don’t take heed to verbal warnings, a father is duty-bound to implement consequences. Take immediate action to stop any disrespect—and remember—children learn the most impactful lessons when dad breaks things down and then builds them back up. After tense emotions have subsided and good energies have returned, we can say, “Pretend a video camera recorded the whole thing. What would we see?” Ask children to explain what they could have done differently.
Although we love being friendly with our children, we are not a friend first. We are their father: teacher, coach, and limit setter. Our job is to instill respectful attitudes and behaviors. Our relationship can evolve into friendship, but while we are raising them, don’t confuse them. We are their father, not their buddy.
Sometimes, children emulate an inappropriate role model. Kids will forever imitate what they observe. Are they imitating a naughty character from a television show? What is the character of their friends, of the people they spend time with? Ask ourselves, do we speak over them while they are trying to express themselves? Do we discount their emotions? It’s good to periodically reassess our own attitudes and behaviors to ensure they align with the respect that we want for our children.
Change can be uncomfortable; life-altering adjustments aren’t always easy. New situations can trigger disrespect. Whether the newness is starting daycare, losing a much-loved family member, or parents getting divorced, change equals stress which equals an environment more conducive to disrespect.
Instead of saying, “If you don’t put the toys away, we aren’t going to the park,” frame it by saying, “We’ll go to the park once the toys are put away. If takes too long, we won’t have time to go to the park.” The way we frame things truly matters—small distinctions can deliver big results.
The Golden Rule
In all corrective actions, fathers should show the respect we want to instill in our children. Paternal overreactions perpetuate disrespect. Treat children as we would like to be treated. When helping them understand the differences between respect and disrespect, ask them how they feel when they’re interrupted or when someone doesn’t show consideration for their feelings or perspective.
Don’t Take Disrespect Personally
We don’t take it personally when it rains or snows. Fathers should recognize that when children are disrespectful, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Children aren’t reacting to us on a personal level but to the situation. Point to the behavior, not the child.
Talk About It
Teaching respect is an ongoing journey of consistent paternal involvement, nurturing conversations, and confidently sharing correct alternatives. If we witness someone being disrespectful while watching a movie, reading a story, or while we’re out in public, we can ask our children how certain attitudes or actions may have caused certain feelings. Discuss why certain behaviors are respectful and others are disrespectful. Discuss how situations could’ve been managed more respectfully.
Respect starts at home. American evangelist, Billy Graham, wrote, “A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.” It’s never too late to curb disrespectful behavior. Our children know that we want them to be successful. With respectful standards, expectations, and enforcement, let’s guide kids to respect themselves and others.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
—Romans 12:10 NLT
The Golden Rule spreads the message of kindness to a new generation. But, what does it really mean? And how do you follow it? A grandfather explains that the Golden Rule means you “treat people the way you would like to be treated. It’s golden because it’s so valuable, and a way of living your life that’s so simple, it shines.”
This book starts with simple reasons why we have rules: to help us stay safe, learn, be fair, and get along. Then it presents just four basic rules: “Listen,” “Best Work,” “Hands and Body to Myself,” and “Please and Thank You.”
Being RESPECTFUL tells people you not only care about them but you also care about yourself too! Join a cute little yellow SPOT as he shows all the different ways to be respectful to people, places and things. With fun illustrations your child will be able to see actual scenarios that your child is in everyday!
Respect and responsibility are concepts that young children can relate to—because they have things they value. This book encourages children to pick up after themselves, put things back where they belong, and ask permission to use things that don’t belong to them.
Stirring words and bold paintings weave their way around our earth, across cultures and generations and remind children to accept differences, to recognize similarities, and—most importantly—to rejoice in both.
This book removes chaos, organizing life into four domains that help us understand who we are and why we do what we do, providing a clear, actionable path where respect leads to value. That value, leads to trust.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.