Children aren’t born knowing how to respect others—those skills take time, practice, and a lot of focused parenting efforts to develop. Luckily, there are steps you can take as a family to encourage and enhance respectful behavior in your children, and these eight tactics are a great start.
1 .It is more than just practice what you preach.
Children know who we are, which is sometimes different than who we want them to become. Children will reflect our attitudes and imitate our actions. Be vocal about what you are thankful for while talking to your children. Positive parenting will influence your children to carry the same attitude through their mannerisms.
2. Volunteer and include your children while participating.
Whether donating material things, or volunteering your manpower, include your children in the process. Ask your children to help financially contribute to a charitable cause. You could even raise money as a family. This will provide the opportunity for your child to see that other people may need help, and that there are always ways he or she can assist.
3. Expect manners.
Your children live up to the expectations you give them. It is easy to make excuses that they are too young, or that they don’t know better, but it is never too early to start teaching. Expect them to say “please” and “thank you” from an early age. They will learn to use those phrases with everyone, not just when talking to their own parents.
4. Encourage your child to give.
A great opportunity to do this is during church service each Sunday. When the offering basket is passed around, give your child money to contribute, or better yet, ask if he or she wants to bring a donation of his or her own. An important part of this process also includes a discussion about what the donation will help support. Explain to your child how his or her donation is helping other people.
5. Do not throw away items—give to a local thrift store, such as Salvation Army or Goodwill.
When you are cleaning out the closets and getting rid of unneeded toys and clothes, let your children be part of the process. Let them help you take the items to the store and explain how those items will be used.
6. Encourage your children to participate in organizations that foster good values and offer volunteer opportunities.
A great example of this is Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. It is always beneficial to allow a secondary source to help build character values.
7. Do not over-reward.
Over-rewarding can lead a child to expect materialistic items. Rewards should not be expected for behaving. Children should be raised to know good behavior regardless of the end result. Then, when the child does receive a reward, it will be appreciated even more.
8. Show children positive role models.
Children of all ages are the founders and leaders of charity organizations. Read your children stories about how someone their own age helped start and lead a charity organization. Instead of avoiding the news about tragedy happening in your community, ask your children how it makes them feel. Then ask if they can think of ways your own family could help assist the people in need. You never know where that discussion may lead.