3 Ways to Increase Respect: Respect Starts With Words
How do you define respect? Respect has been called “the single most powerful ingredient in nourishing relationships and creating a just society” and referred to as “the glue that binds people together and holds together one’s self-confidence.” 
As parents, the words we use with our children today affect the adults they become tomorrow. It’s time to consider a new definition of respect when it comes to parenting and building relationships with our children.
Consider the story of Marc, who as a child was verbally taunted by his physically present, but seemingly emotionally absent father. Marc’s earliest memory of time spent with his father is one of them being in the backyard, his father calling him a pussy because he couldn’t catch a plastic waffle ball.
Over the years, the firing of unkind words by his father berated any hint of masculinity growing inside of him. Marc recalls his father repeatedly telling him he threw a ball like a girl, putting down his natural artistic abilities and forcing him to play contact sports like hockey and lacrosse.
Marc grew into a withdrawn teenager, with little self-confidence. Wanting to please his father, he tried to be the son his father seemed to want, but nothing he did ever felt good enough. As an adult, Marc still struggles with having self-confidence and often questions if he is “good enough” in most areas of his life. To this day, his relationship with his father is distant and strained, and he still battles the urge to please him.
The words we choose to use with our children affect our children’s level of self-confidence, self-worth and self-respect and influence the adults that they will become. In fact, studies show that “children who feel respected and valued in their families do better in school, have more friendships, and live healthier, more successful lives.”
Most parents wants their child to respect himself, to respect others and to be respected by others.
Here’s three ways you can increase the respect you give your child, which will in turn influence the level of respect he has for himself and for others.
1. Model respect. Our children soak in our words and our delivery of them. If we berate and belittle our children, our children will either learn to berate and belittle others or learn that being berated and belittled is acceptable and to be expected. Model the level of respect you expect and encourage your child to follow suit.
2. Validate your children’s feelings. Our children want to know that their thoughts and feelings matter. Research by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People (Australia) into how children and young people understand their well being found that children want to feel respected by their parents. Carefully listening and using kind and gentle words to reflect back to our children what they are saying can help them learn what being respected feels like. When we validate our children’s feelings, even when we don’t agree with their actions, we communicate that we respect them and that people can disagree and do so in a respectful way.
3. Live by the Golden Rule. Anything we have to say to our children can be said in a respectful way. If we take a moment to evaluate our words and ask ourselves how we would feel hearing those same words, we can alter our word choices and tone of delivery into one that is more respectful.
When we use respectful words with our children, we are taking the first steps in fostering an atmosphere and attitude of respect in our homes for ourselves and for each other.
Dr. Caron Goode is the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents International, a global online school for training successful, parenting coaches in home-based businesses. She is the author of fifteen books, including the international best seller, Kids Who See Ghosts, and the national award-winner Raising Intuitive Children. See and review all of Dr. Goode’s books here. Dr. Goode is also the founder of HeartWise Parent, a learning center for parents and Live-Spirit.com, which provides tools for spiritual living.