When asked what values you want your child to grow up with, you’ll probably come up with the following answers:
On top of our list is respect and obedience. Raising children that are both respectful and obedient is every parent’s dream. Both are virtues that are admirable not only in children, but in people of any age.
The importance of respect
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So, in an effort to inculcate both virtues in their children’s character, parents employ a strict child-rearing style. In reality, however, authoritarian parenting only breeds fear and obedience—not respect.
Let’s first define the two terms – obedience and respect.
As defined by the Oxford Languages, Obedience is “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority” while Respect is having “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of” someone.
According to life-coach Kim Giles, parents should strive for earning their child’s respect instead of obedience for a better parent-child relationship.
In her article on KSL.com, Kim answered one mother’s question about her parenting method.
According to the self-confessed, control-obsessed mom, her parenting may have damaged her relationship with her children because she had high expectations from them and wanted their obedience.
To this, Kim said that parents should know exactly how they want their children to turn out. Do they want to raise controlled and obedient children, or do they want to raise smart, responsible, independent and respectful kids?
Fear is different from respect
She also made it a point to differentiate fear from respect.
Parents should eschew a harsh approach to discipline, and should instead employ positive discipline methods: mutual respect is based on a positive relationship between two parties.
Fostering fear in your children through strict parenting could lead to certain behavioral problems in the future including rebellion, bullying and depression, as per Destiny Connect.
Fear is never a good emotion. You wouldn’t want your child to be afraid of you. You want them to be open and comfortable. Instilling fear won’t just ruin your relationship but will also have a negative impact on your children’s future relationships with others. For instance, children who are raised with anger and fear often develop the same values and may foster bullying behavior to assert themselves.
Fear does not discipline a child. It simply implies that they are less inclined to admit that they have made a mistake. Children who are afraid of their parents’ reactions learn to lie from an early age.
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Parents shouldn’t want blind obedience; they should want respectful kids, kids who are possessed with fearless strength, wisdom, love and compassion. Parents should assess the importance of respect in raising their kids. Kids should grow respectful of their parents by knowing what to do and what not to do; not kids who follow their parents out of fear that they will be reprimanded or punished.
Kim said that in order to create a well-balanced and healthy relationship with their children, parents should be “respectable,” “respectful” and mindful to the “attachments” that have a connection to the kids and not based on the parent’s inclinations.
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How to teach a child respect and discipline
Teach respect by showing respect
Meanwhile, Empowering Parents said that children are not naturally born with a sense of respect for others. Hence, it’s the parent’s job to cultivate it.
After all, what parent does not want to raise their children in a positive and loving environment?
Cultivate respect in your children by showing respect not just to them but to every individual you encounter. Show respect to your children by acknowledging their feelings, opinions, privacy, personality, body and personal space. Show the same respect to people you meet outside of your home – to that old lady walking slowly in the street, to that waiter serving you food, or to that store cashier not able to cater to you at once.
When your children see how you show respect to others, they will surely follow.
When your child throws a fit, Hello Doctor recommends the following Holistic Health Tips for Parents:
- Remember to stay calm
- In case of tantrums, redirect your child’s attention to something else
- If your child acts out in public, take them somewhere private and talk to them calmly
- Praise your child for good behavior
- Be consistent with your expectations
- Always let your child know that you love them
Being empathic or able to relate to your own child’s problems, no matter how insignificant or ridiculous they may appear to you as an adult, is vital in understanding your child. When children act out, it is best for you as a parent to hear them out, acknowledge what they’re feeling, and guide them through processing their emotions. This way, you can build a stronger and healthier bond with your child. It aids in instilling the kind of respect and discipline that will last long after you’ve gotten them to cooperate with you.
As mentioned earlier, you want your children to stop crying because he/she understands what’s wrong or what can be done about it, not because he/she fears getting reprimanded or spanked.
Offer your children with choices
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When our children ask for something we don’t want to permit, or we can’t have them do yet, offer them choices instead. You won’t exactly say YES (immediately), but you are able to show them that you respect what they want but you both have to compromise in order to agree.
For example, when your child wants to candy as soon as he/she wakes up you can say, “I know you want candy and you can have it later after you finish your breakfast. We have cereals or pancakes, which do you prefer?”
- Converse and discuss
Of course, there are times that you may find yourself on the verge of losing your temper. When this happens, remember to take a deep breath, compose yourself, and talk it out calmly. Do not yell, scream, swear, or get physical. Converse and discuss. After all, communication is always the key.
The importance of respect in raising a child
Respect instills a sense of value in your child. According to Psychology Today, children who lack self-respect are more likely to drink, use drugs, and treat others harshly. While children who learn respect take care of themselves. They’re less likely to do things that are detrimental to others, they make smart decisions, and they tend to behave in their own best interests.
Children raised to be respectful also grow to become:
- Happier and better in relationships
- Selfless, thoughtful, kind and generous
- Knows boundaries and limitations
- More trustful
So, would you raise your child to be respectful or obedient? You don’t have to figure it all out at the same time. What’s important is being able to introduce and encourage situations, experiences, and boundaries that foster respect – to you, themselves, and others.
Additional information from Margaux Dolores
Kids Spot, Psychology Today, KSL, If Foundation, Empowering Parents, Hello Doctor