How to Teach Children Respect at Any Age

SYLVIA McCRORY     JUNE 2020

We see it all the time.  People, young and old not being respectful.  We see it in the stores, in the news, in schools, and sometimes in our own families. Unfortunately, we see parents and other adults being disrespectful to others. Respect should not be something that is only within the walls of our homes, it should be demonstrated anywhere we go. There are people who would argue, some people do not deserve respect. While that could be debatable, we are all made by a loving God, who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ There is no commandment greater than these.”        Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

Set an Example

I once overheard someone say being friendly and kind to others was a sign of weakness.  Just the opposite is true. We do not need to be disrespectful to get our point across, nor do we need to be confrontational to be heard. We can disagree with someone and still show the grace of God. But more importantly, what kind of message are we sending to our children when we are disrespectful to others? I have observed adults being rude to elderly people, the children and to peers.  None of this behavior is acceptable to God, and none of this behavior is teaching our children to be respectful to others.  We must live the way we want our children to live.  We are daily role models. What is important to us, is important to them.  

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.              Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV)

 

Have the “Heart of a Servant”

This will take the most effort on the part of parents but will pay off exponentially. Make it a habit to volunteer for the poor.  This is more difficult during our time of Covid-19. The closer we can all work with the needy, the suffering, the more blessed all our lives will be.  It is a humbling experience that teaches us to not only respect others and what they may be going through, it teaches us to appreciate what we have been given.  

As a teenager I volunteered at a Muscular Dystrophy camp. We were assigned one patient to care for during the week.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. When we must feed someone else, we are thankful for being able to feed ourselves.  When we must bathe someone else, we are thankful for being able to bathe ourselves. When we must push someone in a wheelchair, we are thankful for being able to walk.  When we return to our normal lives, we have a new appreciation for the difficulties another person must endure. 

How can we not respect others when we learn to walk in their shoes?  

Warning: The Bible clearly instructs us not to do acts of kindness so we can boast about ourselves.  We are to do these acts out of a loving heart.  Do so in secret.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”                                            Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV)



Teach Your Children to Forgive their Enemies (while being an example)

This may seem extremely hard, especially if parents aren’t forgiving their enemies. As Christians, we have been instructed to love those who hate us. It is time to look at things through a different lens, the lens God uses. God sees our enemies, just as he once saw us, humans who have gotten lost and taken the wrong road.  It is through His grace and forgiveness that we can have salvation. Our mission on earth is to share His message and love with others.  

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.     Matthew 5:44(NIV)

And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.    Matthew 5:47-48 (NIV)

In many cases, we find that people suffering tend to lash out the most.  It is those times when we are hurting ourselves that we lash out at others.  The other person probably did not deserve it, but in our hurt and sinful state, we say and do things we would not do otherwise. For others who are hurting, we do not know their reasons, that is not important.  The important point is they were created by God, loved by God, and we are to show God’s love through us.  

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.                           Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

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