Parenting is more than cuddling your precious newborn in your arms, counting her fingers and toes, feeding her every two hours and keeping her diaper dry. This is the easy part. You must guide her through life, making sure her decisions are the right ones. Some of these include the manner in which she treats others. Respect for authority includes everyone from you to her teachers. Respect begins in the home and, although you may not realize it, your child must also respect herself.
Set the example for your child. Your child mimics what you do — if he sees you yelling, cursing, interrupting or being sarcastic, he believes this behavior is natural, explains Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development expert. If you want a child to respect you and his authority figures, show him how to do so.
Give respect to your child. This means you support your child and her feelings. Acknowledge her feelings, and refrain from saying anything negative that can hurt her. Respect is a two-way street. Just because you are an authoritative figure doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect your child. She is a person, too.
Take time to discuss moments of disrespect. Whether you see another child being disrespectful to an authority figure — or your child is being disrespectful — you need to discuss it with him. Ask him what sparked the situation, why he was wrong and what he should have done differently. This gives him time to ponder the situation rather than chalking it up to another incident gone by.
Decide on a consequence for disrespectful behavior. Just as you do not tolerate lying, do not tolerate your child being disrespectful to those in authoritative positions. Make a list of punishments that vary, according to her degree of disrespect. If she interrupts during a conversation, place her in the corner for five minutes. If she talks back to you or another person, take away a prized possession, such as a hand-held video game, for one week. Adhere to the punishment, no matter how difficult it might be for you.
Give your child praise when he shows respect. Examples include holding a door open for an elderly neighbor, or assisting a pregnant woman with her groceries. These are both signs of good manners and respect. Tell him how proud you are of him, and talk about it at the dinner table that evening. This encourages him to continue with positive actions.