Apr 302015 0 Responses

A Simple Trick for Teaching Your Kids Respect and Gratitude

As a parent, one of my primary responsibilities is to teach my children to genuinely feel and express respect and gratitude.

It is vital for my children to respect themselves, others, and me.

It will be life-giving if they can reject any sense of entitlement and experience a deep gratitude for everything they have in life. (See: How to Be a Super Mom)

I must teach them respect and gratitude.

Yet I also need their respect and gratitude.

Parenting is often a thankless job. We sacrifice everything for our children and those very children often feel entitled to the very sacrifices we are making.

If my children do not respect me and experience at least some gratefulness for me, parenting will be a much more difficult task.

I must teach them gratitude and respect and I must be a recipient of their gratitude and respect as I parent my children. (See: A Father’s Primary Role)

Often, however, they fail to show either. Thanklessness and disrespect are inappropriate responses and must be confronted. When either are present, there is a simple trick a parent can use to better teach respect and gratitude.

The next time your child fails to show respect or gratitude, calmly instruct them of its importance. Do not punish them. Do not lecture them. Simply remind them.

Then complete this assignment:

For one week keep a running total of every time you vocalize respect or gratitude to your children.

How many times do you say:

  • Thank you
  • You’re welcome
  • I’m sorry
  • Excuse me
  • Please forgive me

At the same time, note every time you show respect or gratitude toward your spouse whether your children are watching or not.

Also note every time you show respect or gratitude to others when your children are present.

Of course you will need to subtract each occurrence where you disrespect another or fail to share gratitude. Every:

  • Eye roll
  • Raised voice
  • Improper tone
  • White lie
  • Failure to be kind

At the end of the week add the positives and subtract the negatives and then show your score to your children. Illustrate for them the exact behavior you want them to exhibit.

Unless of course you look at your sheet and your count is sadly low. My guess is that in many occurrences parents are frustrated by their children exhibiting the very behavior their parents have modeled.

Parents often fail to respect our children. We do not recognize their pain. We do not empathize with their humanity. We minimize their concerns and ignore their emotions. We fail to see them as fully human with all the fears, concerns, and issues which we face as adults. (See: Recognize Your Child’s Pain)

We also struggle to show them gratitude. We do not let them know how thankful we are to be their mom or dad. We fail to thank them when they quickly obey or show them common courtesy when they are helpful.

Maybe more than anything, we fail to understand the influence our actions toward our spouses play in the attitudes and behaviors of our children.

Show me a couple who regularly models respect and gratitude toward one another and I will likely show you children who do the same.

We are often irritated by our children’s disrespect and thanklessness because it mimics our own behavior. And we do not like how we act. (See: Obey Your Mother, Respect My Wife)

Every child should be expected to consistently demonstrate respect and gratitude for themselves, their parents, siblings, and others. We must demand it of them. But they have every right to expect it from us as well.

Model it, then teach it. Without the former, the latter won’t matter.

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