My girls often get glowing reports from school regarding their kindness and respect and care for others. I am honestly so grateful when the teachers affirm that some of our teaching is sticking.

However, when Ella and Larson get comfortable around others (typically family and friends), they, like most of us, tend to get really comfortable -and the sass and attitude and maybe a tinge of selfishness break out.  They sometimes cross the line from comfortable to disrespectful quicker than you can say “Oh no, she didn’t!” (I have no idea where they would learn such behavior. It’s only every day that I’d sort of like for life to go my way, all the way.)

Encouraging RespectIn your home and mine, we might find disrespect in the way mom and dad talk to each other, in the way a sibling snatches a toy or disregards another’s hard work, in a display of poor sportsmanship when a game is lost, in unkind personal comments, in carelessness with a sibling’s borrowed item, or in the way a child responds to being told no. In  behavior outside the  home  disrespect often  looks  like  complaining, rudeness to friends, disregard for  another person’s  home  or  toys,  ungrateful hearts, pushing to  the front or stealing attention from others, a sassy attitude, running through landscaping at a restaurant, or throwing a friend’s  toy.

Nothing says disrespect to me like a child interrupting an adult conversation. I love my kids.  I want to   hear   their   stories  and their voices,  but  when  I am  talking to their  grandfather or my neighbor and  they rudely  interrupt around twelve times, it truly gives me red splotches on  my  neck  from embarrassment. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this parental pet peeve.

I  was  so  proud when   my  kids  first  learned to  say  “Excuse   me, Mommy,” but  this  achievement only  led  to  more  polite  interruptions, with “Excuse me, Mommy” on continual repeat until they got my attention.  We are now  practicing a more  silent  way of patiently waiting their turn by simply placing their  hand on my arm  to let me  know they  need my attention. I learned this technique from my friend Allison, who does a great job outlining how to teach “The Interrupt Rule” on her House of Hendrix blog.  It’s working pretty well for us.Encouraging Respect

I  do  have  to  give  myself  a reality  check  when my  kids  interrupt. Often, I get  embarrassed because I am  too  worried about them being obedient or how  others  view  my success as a parent. In that moment I need to remember their ages, give them grace, and avoid shaming them. I may just whisper a reminder to try the interrupt rule next time. While I may choose to enforce a consequence if it has become a chronic issue, I’ve learned that my girls generally respond better to positive affirmation when it comes to character training.

It’s so easy to point out examples of disrespect in our home because unkind words and attitudes, lack of appreciation, or ungrateful hearts quickly grab our attention. But what if we became laser-focused on highlighting those times when they get it right? I want to be quick to praise and slow to point out failures, honoring them by letting them know I see their efforts.

My  hope  is that  rather  than  restricting  our children  with  a ton  of rules, we can find kid-friendly ways to explain the concept of respect.

The goal is not to develop timid kids who are fearful of putting a toe over the wrong line, but to help them establish self-control and a thoughtful awareness of their surroundings.

Read more about kindness and respect in children


Adapted from, In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo, used by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher

Courtney_DeFeoCourtney DeFeo is a popular blogger and creator of ABC Scripture Cards featured on “The View.”  She’s a graduate of Auburn University and has worked in marketing and public relations.  Courtney and her husband, Ron, are the parents of two children. For more information on encouraging kindness and respect in children, see her book  In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life (WaterBrook Press, October 10, 2014).




Encouraging Respect