How to Encourage Respect and Co-operation
“Kids these days don’t respect anyone or anything!”
How often have we heard or thought this sentiment? It can be said that children don’t respect their parents or others as much as they used to, but it doesn’t have to be so.
In order for children to show respect, they have to be shown it. Since it is widely acknowledged that kids model the behavior of those around them, we should understand that as parents we need to show respect to them first.
We cannot expect perfection from kids because nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and the truth is that most of the behavior that we see from kids is modeled after ourselves or their peers.
Understanding Why Respect is Important
By fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding in the home, parents are able to teach their children how to honor the rights of each household member. This approach is in accordance with the teachings of Islam, and is a popular parenting method throughout the world.
The Holy Qur’an states:
“Thy Lord has commanded, Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with excellent speech.” (17:23)
This verse in the Qur’an is often used by parents as a way to force respect and submission from their children. However, when you look at the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), you realize that He demonstrated respect through his own behavior of kindness, respect and love towards the children that they in turn replicated.
By allowing each child to voice their own opinions, and have a choice in certain family decisions, you can create a stronger bond between parent and child, because you have made them feel confident, secure, valued and loved.
Knowing how to be respectful is a learned behavior. In this article we will outline the Positive Parenting steps you can take to teach your kids how to be respectful not only to you, but to their siblings and others as well Insh’Allah.
Expect your child to make mistakes. It’s how they learn.
Instead of viewing each mistake as a problem, understand that they are opportunities for a teachable moment.
We want children to have the opportunity to make these mistakes and fail at somethings while they are still young and living with us, rather than when they are grown where the mistakes can be so much more damaging.
Respect Has To Be Mutual
There are several ways we can show respect to our young children, and it is vital that we do this. While there are many cultural ideologies that strongly reject this idea, it was the practice of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) to be gentle and respectful with people of all ages, especially towards children:
- Speak politely
- Use names that people like
- Consider other people’s needs and wishes
- Cooperate with reasonable requests
- Follow family rules – first go over the family rules so everyone is clued in
It is important to note that when parents make a mistake, there should be an admittance of guilt, and an apology. For example, “You wanted to talk to me earlier, and I was busy and asked you to leave me alone for a while. I shouldn’t have done that and I’m very sorry.“
You will be surprised how forgiving and supportive your children can be.
Most importantly, you are showing your child what to do when they make a mistake and how they can rectify it.
This in no way diminishes your authority in the home. It actually takes a strong character to admit when we are wrong and ask for forgiveness – especially from children. When parents humble themselves, it makes it easier for kids to relate and their parents seem reasonable and credible. You are able to indirectly teach your children how to behave, and give them a direct way to reach out to you when they make their own mistakes.
How To Encourage Respect
- Speak in a pleasant tone
- Model speaking politely
- Praise them
- Prompt them
- Do not give in when they are rude
By getting angry each time your child acts up, you are handing over control and it becomes a manipulation tool. Ignore minor bad behavior and focus instead on catching them being good and praise them for it.
How To Encourage Cooperation
- Make sure your request is reasonable
- Time it well
- Get close to them and use their name
- State your request in a calm and clear voice
- Allow negotiation if appropriate
- Express appreciation if your child follows your request
- Back up with a brief suitable consequence if they don’t follow
If your child does need a consequence (because they did not want to cooperate, or did not cooperate well), do not get upset. This is a teaching moment. Use it to review the family rule of cooperation.
Remember: Whoever gets upset loses!
Resources For Parents:
To learn more about the power of Positive Parenting and how to implement real strategies that work in your home, check out these fabulous resources for parents:
- Positive Parenting in the Muslim Home
- How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk
- Positive Discipline
Resources for Kids:
Also, check out these fantastic books for kids that reinforce the importance of respect and kindness: