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Practice Respect with Your Family

We can model and practice respect for our children in everyday actions and words.

Things We All Can Do

Set aside time for regular family meetings.

Treat everyone as an equal in family meetings. Begin with everyone saying something good about what’s going on in the family or about a particular family member. For example: “I’m so glad all of you came to my last soccer game. It made me feel so good to see you there, rooting for me.”

Then, allow time for “complaints” to decide on issues or to settle conflicts. For example: “I think I’m old enough to stay up an hour later on weekends, just like Marcus.” Discuss the issue, allowing time for your child to explain “why.” Make sure that, should you decide “no,” that you explain your reasoning. Don’t say, “Because I said so.”

Allow equal time for family members to voice opinions or explain their ideas.

Give legitimate choices and respect your child’s decisions.

Begin simply with young children—give two or three choices of books to read, foods for dinner, outfits to wear. Be sure that any of the alternatives are okay with you. Once the choice is made, don’t put in your opinion.

Try not to interrupt your child.

Be a good listener. You might never think of interrupting a friend as she tells you all about the movie she saw last night; but, you might interrupt or hurry along a child who is explaining exactly what happened in the cartoon she watched that morning. Share in your child’s enthusiasm. Treat children with the respect you automatically give to friends.

Let children take responsibility.

Show young children that you respect their abilities. Let them help with the day-to-day tasks of the family—folding clothes, sorting silverware, taking out the garbage, feeding pets.

Always say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” or “I’m sorry” to your child.

These polite words and phrases come naturally when you’re talking to another adult, even a stranger. The words show respect. Use them with your children and they will use the words with you and others.

Think before you criticize.

Try to find the best in others. If your children hear you use negative labels or speak critically of others, they will do the same. Let them hear you praise others, including them.

Words To Talk About

“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.” — Jesse Jackson

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Updated on 4/5/2013