by Jill Garner
Cultivating respect in your home isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Allow me to suggest 28 ways you can love your family while instilling respect in their hearts. If you’ll follow through, disrespectful patterns will begin to give way to less disagreement and more peace in the coming months!
We’ll begin with the hardest and most important suggestion of all:
Be the person you want your child to become.
Don’t allow disrespectful behavior. No shrugged shoulders, rolled eyes or huffing and puffing…that goes for mom and dad too!
Give your children assigned duties (chores) so they know their value as an important member of the family.
Kiss your children even if they’re already asleep.
Read, read, read to your children.
Have dinner together around the table as a family. (Watch the scene from The Blind Side when the whole Tuohy family plops in front of the TV, but Michael goes to the dining room table instead because he believes that’s what a family should do.)
Ask lots of questions and wait patiently for answers.
When your child presents a “work of art,” don’t guess the subject matter, ask them to tell you about their picture.
Stop what you’re doing and look in your child’s eyes when they talk to you and listen with your heart.
Correct inappropriate behavior without berating your child.
Don’t be guilty of giving too much and expecting too little.
Create traditions. When my sons were little, they crawled in my bed on Saturday mornings for a couple of cartoons. I loved the snuggles, they loved the cartoons.
Treat your child with gentleness, patience and kindness.
Remember your “yes” is a promise-not-to-be-broken in your child’s eyes. Follow through.
Never allow your child to leave your presence without hearing “I love you.”
Be a kid with your kid...laugh a lot!
Find something to compliment every day.
Create an original wake-up song.
Find a unique way to say I love you without words. When I was growing up, we flashed two fingers at each other to say, “I love you too!” My grandgirls and I point to our eyes, cross our arms over our chests and then point to each other.
Let your children suggest characters for a story, then write a story together.
Read Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages to discover the ways in which your child needs to be loved to feel loved.
Teach your children to esteem others, not themselves.
Don’t allow meanness to go unchecked. Stop it in the moment.
Cook together in the kitchen.
Dance. Dance. Dance. When my sons were little, I would scoop up each one in my arms and dance around the kitchen. They giggled out loud while my heart was singing.
Color together. Seriously, get down on the floor or at the table and color a coloring page, just like your child. Get out an old jigsaw puzzle and work it together with your child. Amazing conversation happens when you’re working together to complete a task, any task!
Love and respect your spouse.
Discipline your children with boundaries that don’t create walls.
To undergird your efforts, join countless parents who use Psalm 139:23-24 as a daily prayer to implore the Lord’s help in keeping their family on track:
Search me, O, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is an offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Would you like to take a deeper dive into some of these suggestions? Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World will guide you through the process of raising respect-filled children who will affect the world for good rather than become infected by it.
Jill Garner is founder of Manners of the Heart, a non-profit reawakening respect in our society for the sake of the next generation. After 25 years of interdisciplinary work with schools and families, Jill is a recognized authority in respect-based Heart Education. For more, visit https://jillgarnercontent.org