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How to Teach Respect: In an age of flippancy, how can children cultivate this virtue?

You're so lucky your daughter is respectful," I recently overheard one mother say wistfully to another.

"Thank you," said the complimented mother. I wondered if she wanted to add that luck has little to do with raising a well-mannered child in this age of plummeting respect. With the entertainment industry providing ample flippancy for our children to emulate, it's unlikely they will learn respect unless parents cultivate the virtue.

To Teach Respect, Show Respect
Although your 8-year-old may seem more flippant than he was at 5, he still values the behavior you value and considers you the authority. Your child will learn most about behaving respectfully by watching you.

Sometimes when I'm hurried I bark out orders in a disrespectful tone. I didn't realize this until I began hearing flippancy in my son's voice. I prayed about it, and God gently pointed out where my son had heard that tone of voice?from me. My son and I worked on speaking more respectfully to one another.

I've observed that kids demonstrate as much respect as you demand?seldom more and sometimes less. As Christian parents we must teach our children to obey quickly and quietly (see 1 Timothy 3:4). In Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children (Andrews and McMeel), John K. Rosemond says, "Children show respect for parents by obeying them. Parents show respect for children by expecting them to obey."

Be Specific
A child at this age still doesn't have a well-defined standard of respect and disrespect. Rosemond says, "When parents leave doubt in a child's mind as to just exactly what they expect, the child can be counted on to give himself the benefit of the doubt."

Provide the specifics of respectful behavior. Rather than say, "Be respectful in church," tell your child what this includes?sitting quietly during the service and not climbing on the pews. Keep your expectations clear and realistic.

In some cases, an adult may not model behavior worthy of respect as you had hoped. Teach your children to show respect publicly even if they privately think the person is not worthy of respect.

Curb Disrespectful Behavior
To curb disrespectful behavior, implement logical consequences. Children think twice about insulting their siblings if they must write a note including three compliments for each insulting remark.

The entertainment industry excessively uses disrespectful behavior as a source of humor, so monitor the television your child watches and be aware of the books he reads.

Of course, as parents we can only monitor behavior and cannot change the attitude of our children's hearts. Pray that your children will become respectful from the inside out.

?Faith Tibbetts McDonald
Pt. Matilda, PA

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