Growing up, most parents were more concerned with protecting, clothing, and feeding their children rather than making sure they were treating their kids with respect and building up their self-esteem. My mother reprimanded me on the spot if I acted up — and it usually wasn’t pretty. She went through my things because she believed she had access to my belongings without my permission, because she was the parent. So I made a decision as a child that I would always strive to respect my children and not pull rank as an excuse.
Now that I am an adult, I can see why my mother did the things she did when I was a kid. She was just doing the best she could, with what she had. The tools in her toolbox were most likely the ones her mother had passed down and she was coming from a loving place. It's not like today, where you can jump online and find hundreds of articles on parenting topics in under 30 seconds. Now, if we have a style of parenting we are considering, we can loose ourself in the mass of information. Which can be helpful when you have goals for your family life and they way you choose to interact.
Since I aim to keep a respectful relationship between my children and myself, I have found the plethora of information on this topic to be my north star of mothering. If you feel this style is a good fit for you, start with these nine ways to respect you child and see how it makes your relationship stronger.
1Be An Active Listener
We all want to be heard when we have something important to say, no matter our age. When your child has something they want to share with you, try to listen without judgement. According to the Center For Parenting Education, active listening builds trust and support between parent and child, and opens the door to more in-depth communicating.
If you can't drop what you're doing, try saying, "This sounds really important, so I want to wait until I can listen without distractions. Let's have this conversation later." Listening to their stories, concerns, and questions with focused attention, helps them to feel accepted and heard.
2Validate Their Feelings
Some days it's just hard to be a kid. Children can experience the same frustrations and disappointments as adults, but may not always have the words to express what they're feeling. When your child's struggling with an emotion, try naming that feeling for them. Sometimes it just take me saying, "You seem really frustrated by this," to calm my son down, and help him to refocus.
3Honor Their Privacy
There comes a time when a child no longer wants to streak around the house with naked glee, and starts to ask for privacy when bathing and changing clothes. It may seem to come out of nowhere, but Parents pointed out that this is a normal way for children to start showing their desire for independence. As adults, we should respect these new boundaries our children are putting in place and encourage them to take care of these needs on their own.
4Model Personal Boundaries
Children should learn the importance of personal boundaries early on, so it becomes a habit that grows with them. Having limits is a good way to teach and show respectful behavior, because it gives us margins to operate within for social settings as well as home life.
5Respond With Compassion
It can be really hard sometimes to stay compassionate when your child is throwing a fit, complaining, or whining. But at the heart of those undesirable behaviors is a problem they are struggling to solve. Being compassionate (and not trying to solve the problem for them or voice strong judgements) will help them work through the problem on their own.
6Be An Example
If your goal is to be respectful to your kids, then you have to model respectful behavior toward yourself and others. Seeing a parent who lives the advice they give is the best way to drive home a point.
7Be Thoughtful When Correcting Them
To avoid escalating arguments and tantrums, Empowering Parents recommended using a respectful approach when correcting bad behavior. Try to stay calm instead of yelling and loosing control of your temper. Making your expectations known in a clear and firm manner is an effective tool and can avoid the bruised feelings that harsh words can cause.
8Give Them Space To Process
As parents, we can sometimes push our child to tell us their every thought and feeling. But there are instances when a child is not ready to talk about the kid that embarrassed them in the lunchroom today, and they need time to themselves to process what has happened. Being patient and allowing your child that time, will make them feel respected and hopefully encourage them to talk when they are ready.
9Make Discipline Private
There are those times when we must yell to keep our kids from getting hurt. But when there is an issue that needs discipline when other people are around, try to make that conversation as private as possible. Pulling your child aside to talk about the problem saves them embarrassment. This move will help them to feel respected, because they were spared humiliation of being disciplined in front of others.