5 Secrets for Teaching Your Teen Respect

We all want our kids to grow up being respectful and respected. After all, this a cornerstone of life in a democratic society. Respect is a learned quality that starts in the home and grows from there. Show your kids the value of respect by following these guidelines.

Be Supportive

Family is the foundation of a good support team. Kids need to know that they are supported at home. This offers them the drive to succeed and gives them courage to take chances because they know they are in a caring, supportive and secure environment.

Model the Way

Kids learn by example. When you practice genuine respect, show appreciation for others and convey empathy, you model for your kids how true respect is shown and received. Your actions will always matter to your kids, so show them how you respect people out in the world. Kids are always watching and paying attention (unless you're asking them to clean their room) and will most likely follow your lead.

Treat Your Child Respectfully

While we are on the subject of modeling, it is essential in this age of mutual respect that we threat our children as respectfully as we expect them to treat us. That means not yelling at them, calling them names, putting them down, or hitting them to name a few of the pitfalls that may need to be sidestepped. This does not mean giving away your authority in the family. You are still the leader, but leaders in a democratic society do better when they demonstrate respect for those they lead.

Establish Boundaries

Family rules should be established and reinforced to ensure kids grow up understanding what is expected of them and you. By establishing family rules that everyone abides by, kids learn to understand what is right and wrong and respect when everyone is held accountable for their actions.

Minimize Media Noise

The media is constantly showing a lack of respect. Movies and television shows are fun to watch and can be highly entertaining but kids need to know the difference between actions and talk that are acceptable on TV versus what's acceptable in real life. Sit down with your kids and talk to them about what they watch.

Respect is a simple yet powerful concept. Make it easy for your kids by relating respect to the golden rule; treat others the way you want to be treated.

A great method to teach your children about respect is through role playing. Check out this example:

You overhear your 11-year-old daughter talking to a friend about why a certain girl in their class is a complete loser. How will you use this as a lesson for respect?

  • Ask your daughter how she'd feel if people were referring to her that way behind her back.
  • Ask her what she knows about this girl. Is she lonely? Unpopular? What's her home life like? Help your daughter develop empathy and realize there is more to a person's life than what we see on the surface.
  • What can your daughter do to turn the situation around and show respect?

Use real life situations to help your kids understand the true value of respect. For more tips and information on Active Parenting programs, join our mailing list below.


Pioneer educator Dr. Michael Popkin is the founder of Active Parenting Publishers and is the author of many award winning video-based parenting education programs. An expert in his field, Dr. Popkin earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University and has served as Director of Child and Family Services at an Atlanta hospital.