R Stands for… Respect

Hopefully since the last module you’ve had the opportunity to reflect on how you’re going with consistently parenting your teen.

Maybe there’s been the chance to revisit some rules, expectations and consequences… or possibly it reaffirmed what you felt you were already doing well. Remember there’s no right or wrong, just what works best for your household.

Respect is something that can’t be demanded, it needs to be taught and practiced. The way your teen treats you, their siblings, their peers, other adults and property is indicative of their level of respect for others … and to an extent, themselves.

Many parents don’t want to hear this … but one of the biggest challenges to raising a respectful teen is attempting to be more their friend than parent.

Your teen is not your friend. He or she is your child, and as such, the parent/child relationship is reliant upon certain boundaries.

In too many instances to count, I’ve seen the downfall of parent-teen relationships where the boundaries have become blurred. Yes you should enjoy the company of your teen and appreciate the time you spend together… but remember your prime parenting purpose is to teach them skills to function in the world. And this means identifying and practicing appropriate boundaries and behaviours.

It’s ok for your teen not to like you at times. It’s probable that your teen will rarely thank you. It’s quite normal and to be anticipated. Don’t drop the expectations you have around respect when your feelings are challenged.

Stand firm and model the respectful behaviour you wish to see from your child … who is not your friend.

What does respect look like?

A great rule of thumb when thinking about respect, is deciding what you would accept as appropriate behaviour from a neighbour or acquaintance.

You should expect nothing less from your teen.

If you wouldn’t tolerate your neighbour getting up close in your face and swearing at you, then don’t for a minute tolerate it from your adolescent. This can be a handy rule of thumb if you ever doubt your judgement.

Remembering that respect from today’s generation of teens is not something that can be insisted upon, so how then can we teach this virtue?

Focusing on positive interactions with your teen is one way that respect can naturally be shown to them by example.

Here are some thoughts for how respect applies to parenting your teen…

Respect for your teen

  • Respect their reality. We live in a world quite different to theirs and what may seem unimportant to us could be of crucial importance to them. Listen to their stories.
  • Respect the changes they are going through – hormonal moods, changing peer groups and passing trends. Not to make an excuse for these, but remember their influence.
  • Respect their privacy … to a certain extent. As their parent, you have the right to supervise their business, but do this with care so as not to appear overbearing and intrusive.
  • Respect their contribution – thank them earnestly when they live up to or exceed your expectations.
  • Respect their individuality and emerging personality. Be supportive of their interests and activities. Love unconditionally.
  • Speak to and act towards them respectfully – model exactly what it is you are wanting in return.

Respect from your teen

  • Make clear boundaries and address them  time your teen oversteps the line.
  • Have consistent consequences for any repeated disrespectful behaviour shown to you, others or property.
  • Be aware of the interactions your teen has with others and address any disrespect in a timely way.
  • Model tolerance and being critical of injustice when you encounter it.

The kinds of respect you can foster…

  • Self-respect – encouraging your teen to carry themselves with assurance, promoting good health and avoiding harmful substances AND modelling this for them.
  • Respecting others in all their dealings – whether this be in face-to-face conversation, social media use etc.
  • Respecting property – their own, family property, school property, public property and the property of their friends.
  • Good manners – such an easy way to demonstrate respect! Model good manners and expect them from your teen – be aware of tone of voice, eye contact and speaking courteously.

Worksheet Download


Your CRASH Journaling prompts for this module…

  • Do you feel respected by your teen? Why or why not?
  • Recall a time your teen was disrespectful to you. What happened? How did you feel? How did you react
  • Can you recall a time when you did not show your teen respect? What happened? How did they react? How did you feel?

Just to recap

Respect is not one-size-fits all…

Back in the day (now that’s an expression which gets dragged out a bit don’t you think?) people in positions of perceived authority automatically received respect as a perk of the position. Police officers, teachers and yes, even parents commanded respect… just because.

The world we are parenting in today is not the same and respect – though something all people deserve – is not bestowed purely due to title.

Teens today will give respect when they feel respected.

Parental authority isn’t unreasonable for to you to want, however as kids grow and exert their independence they’ll respond much better to respect rather than control.

Respect is a complex concept that must be taught, learnt and practised. And there are many types of respect we should skill our teens in, such as:

  • respect for themselves
  • respect for others
  • respect for property
  • respect for the environment
  • respect for authority and the law

Recognising and addressing disrespect if (or when) your teen displays it is one of the first ways to help them be more respectful. Letting disrespectful behaviour go through to the keeper – whether it is aimed at you or not – will only have them thinking it’s acceptable.

Challenging rude behaviour and then modelling a respectful alternative for kids will provide them with a very good understanding of what’s expected.

Some ways you can expect and get respect from your teen…

  • Respect your teen and demonstrate this through your words and actions.
  • Explain what respect is and ways you’re wanting it to be shown in your household.
  • Expect respect from them and ensure they understand this. Talk about the concepts of respect, disrespect and courtesy so they have a point of reference.
  • Recognise when they are being disrespectful – listen to what they say and also how they say it ie tone of voice and sarcasm are common tools of disrespect favoured by teens.
  • Act upon disrespect as soon as you detect it. Address it calmly there and then.
  • Try developing a “look” or signal to indicate they’re on disrespect notice – it may be enough to help them modify their behaviour.
  • Don’t foster a situation where they can continue to behave disrespectfully – you may need to walk away for space or send them out of the room to change the dynamics of the situation.
  • Respond consistently (ah-ha last week!) to disrespect so there’s no doubt about what’s expected of them.
  •  Keep your cool. Losing your shizz is an invitation for them to claim they don’t feel respected by you!

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