My family was standing in line for the old-time roller coaster at Elitch Gardens in Denver. We were next in line, and as a group near us exited their car, a boy forgot his hat in the cubby where people leave their belongings so that they don’t come flying out during the ride. He ran back to get it, and by accident, he cut sharply in front of an adult. When the boy got back near his family, his father slapped him upside the head. I was saddened by the scene. Perhaps this father was trying to teach his son the importance of respecting strangers, but he chose to use a disrespectful—and ineffective—way to teach that lesson. Respect breeds respect, and disrespect breeds disrespect. His son was clearly humiliated and was most likely grappling with shame.
Respect is an essential component of communication and correction in the home. Parents are required to have many types of interactions with their kids. We teach them and discipline them. We remind them of family values, expectations, and boundaries. Respect builds a child’s sense of value. And it’s an important part of how children learn how to respect others wherever they go.
Kids raised in respectful environments learn these important traits:
Forgiveness and grace
In respectful homes, kids better learn to forgive and accept forgiveness. Everyone messes up and needs a do-over, parents included, and a respectful family atmosphere creates the workings for humility and grace.
Learning respect helps children learn how to manage relationships, decisions, and life more responsibly. It means taking personal ownership for decisions, mistakes, and emotions, even when it is tough to do so. Responsibility helps fuel trust.
A respectful home helps build trust among family members, one of the core foundations of love. Respectfulness will create true character, which is how we behave when no one else is watching. Trust helps create a natural flow of empathy, compassion and kindness toward each other in the home.
Children who are taught respect learn that people are important. They begin to think of others instead of just themselves, and they are often more genuine in their care for others.
Attention and patience
A respectful family environment teaches kids to focus their attention and listen to others—to recognize that what other people have to say is important. They learn to wait for their turn and not insist on always having their own way.
Boundaries and assertiveness
When children understand the significance of respecting others’ possessions and time, they learn to take care for what is someone else’s and what is their own. They also learn that boundaries and limits are helpful and necessary for things to function well in relationships, at home, school, and society.