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How to Explain to Children About Respecting Their Mother

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Everyone deserves and wants to be respected, and few deserve it more than hardworking mothers. You want your kids to speak and act respectfully toward you, but sometimes they don’t. Your children may be more respectful to strangers than they are to you. Respect for mom can set the tone for the home; in addition, having respectful children can help prevent their mother from feeling stressed and overwhelmed. You can help create a respectful home environment and make mom feel appreciated and valued.

Model the behavior you want to see. As a parent, how you treat your children models how your kids should treat others, according to Dr. Robyn Silverman, child development specialist. Speak respectfully and act respectfully toward your children and to each other by keeping the volume down, avoiding sarcasm, not talking over each other and complimenting one another. Tell your kids that everyone deserves respect, and explain how mom behaves as she does to demonstrate her respect toward them.

Let your kids see you talking respectfully to mom, if you’re dad. Back her up when she needs it; help her take care of her needs for effective self-care; and demonstrate how to disagree without being disagreeable, say the writers at the National Fatherhood Initiative. Explain to your children that you treat their mother with respect because she deserves it.

Create a home climate where disrespect isn’t tolerated. Tell your children that you have a zero-tolerance policy for disrespect and describe the response they will receive if they disrespect mom. Mention specific disrespectful habits such as "back talk" and ignoring her. Outline how you will respond, whether it’s writing an apology to mom; taking on some of their mother’s chores to relieve some of her burden; or losing privileges until the attitude is rectified.

Role-play appropriate and inappropriate behavior with the kids so they can see what it looks and feels like to treat mother with respect. Specific behaviors for appropriate behavior include saying "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am," listening when mom talks and helping out when asked. Disrespectful behaviors you can role-play include sass, cutting remarks, sarcastic responses and ignoring her. Point out offending behavior in the role-play in television shows, behavior of other children, and wherever you see mothers and children interacting with obvious respect or disrespect, suggests Silverman.

Acknowledge and praise your kids when they treat mom respectfully, such as opening the door for her and talking in respectful tones and words, encourages Silverman. That positive reinforcement stimulates your kids to continue to display respect towards their mother.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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