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December 09, 2011


Youth learn respect for others from parents’ actions, teachings

Respect is something children learn and emulate from their parents, said Barbara Hopkins.

Hopkins, the Monroe County site coordinator of the Parenting Place in Sparta, presented a workshop “Tips on Getting Kids to Respect Parents/Caregivers/Teachers” Nov. 29 at Fort McCoy as a guide for parents to get their children to respect others.
PHOTO: Barbara Hopkins (right) talks with parents from the Fort McCoy community about respect between children and their parents. Photo by Rob Schuette
Barbara Hopkins (right) talks with parents from the Fort McCoy community about respect between children and their parents. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

“Parents first have to define what respect is to them,” Hopkins said. “If they want respect from their children, they have to teach it to them and be a role model in respecting others.”

Children emulate their parents. If their parents are sarcastic, shouting, grabbing and displaying inappropriate behavior, children will act likewise, she said.

On the other hand, if parents are polite, respectful, courteous, etc., to their children and to others, children will behave the same way.

“It all comes down to us as parents,” Hopkins said. “The best way to teach respect is to show respect. Being respectful helps a child succeed in life.”

Children should be taught that being respectful is showing patience and listening calmly with undivided attention when someone else is talking to them, Hopkins said. It’s a two-way street. Parents who are fair with their children are more likely to help children develop good habits of practicing respect.

A 10-point program can help parents teach respect and curb disrespect, Hopkins said. The 10 parenting tips are: model it, expect it, teach it, praise it, discuss it, correct it, acknowledge it, understand it, reinforce it, and reward it.

Modeling and teaching respect often go hand-in-hand. Hopkins said parents have to show respect and give children the tools and skills they need to show respect in return.

Praising, acknowledging, reinforcing and rewarding respectful behaviors helps emphasize to children that being respectful is a good choice.

The process should emphasize children feeling good for displaying respect to others and not necessarily overindulgent rewards.

“It is good to associate respectful behavior with intangible rewards, such as praise, recognition, extra responsibility or privileges,” Hopkins said.

Parents also can show their children the difference between respectful and disrespectful behavior by pointing out when other children use respectful or disrespectful language and/or behavior and discussing it with their children, she said.

If parents see their children engaging in disrespectful behavior they should correct it in a respectful manner to help reinforce the basics of respectful behavior and being a good role model, Hopkins said.

“Parents and children have to have self-respect before they can give respect to others,” she said. “Until children get respect at home, it’s unlikely they will show it elsewhere.”

The Parenting Place, a nonprofit organization, offers free parenting advice to the public. For more information, visit the website www.theparentingplace.net, or call 608-269-3151, ext. 6116.

For more information about parent workshops at Fort McCoy, call Parent Central Services at 608-388-8956.

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