Person to Person: Teaching your kids to respect other people

First, teach them to respect themselves.

Giving and getting respect is the best way to keep society in harmony. (Tribune News Service)

Have you ever tried asking for respect from another adult? It's tough.

Furthermore, demanding respect from co-workers, family members, or business associates is almost impossible.

That's because the concept of respect must register with us when we are children. Adults who don't understand the importance of respect aren't likely to change.

In our developmental years, we all need to comprehend kindness, graciousness and using good manners.


Adults who are respectful will have a smoother ride in life. They can more easily open career doors, sustain good relationships and manage groups of people.

That's why it pays to teach respectful behaviors to children and young adults in your life. This includes nieces and nephews, students, or younger employees.

Giving and getting respect is the best way to keep society in harmony. Why? We don't waste time arguing and rocking each other's boats.

These points are critical to showing your kids how to give respect:

  • First, teach them to respect themselves. Show them how to eat healthy, get enough rest, take care of their clothes and help with family chores. Show them they are valuable.
  • Teach them basic manners. Plenty of kids grow up with zero manners.
  • Point out the good qualities of other people. Help your child focus on positive aspects of people from other cultures, other neighborhoods and other socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Teach them that everyone does not think alike. Explain that every person perceives situations differently. Tell your children, "Learn more about what your friends are thinking. Ask questions. Try to see the viewpoint of others."
  • If possible, allow your child to have a pet. Caring for an animal is a good way to help your child understand the feelings and needs of another creature.

"I talk to my students about using their 'voice' responsibly," says a fifth grade teacher we'll call Ms. Barnes. "I have a lot of kids from rough neighborhoods in the inner city where we're located. They don't want to be perceived as weak or caught off guard, but I help them to practice setting verbal boundaries and speaking their minds appropriately."
Ms. Barnes says her students throughout the years have used a lot of profanity when they first come into her class. "I can overhear them interacting on the school playground," she explains. "So, we've had open discussions in the classroom about empowering ourselves through more intelligent language."

She goes on to tell her class: "All of us get very angry in certain situations. But, try hard not to make a situation worse than it already is. Acting and speaking responsibly are key game-changers."

Showing a child the benefits of respecting others will involve teaching these principles over time. You have to set the example in the best way you can.

"I try to demonstrate the importance of embracing differences among people," says a college administrator we'll call Mr. Harris. "All of us are made 'rich' by our friendships and relationships. What a boring world if everyone was alike."


He points out the power of appreciating others. "I enjoy teaching our students about other countries, cultures and people who come from every type of background," he emphasizes. "It's nice to have a wide variety of people in your life."

Respecting other people will help heal our nation. Having empathy for the problems of others means we'll experience less friction. We'll take pride in being part of the solutions, instead of being part of the problems.

Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips.” She is also executive director of USA Wellness Café at . Emma Hopson is a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist. ©2020 Person to Person. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

What To Read Next
Get Local