How to Teach Kids to Be Respectful

October 24, 2016

By Guest Contributor – Rachel Bailey, M.A., CPDPE

As you may recall, one of the 12 habits of a “WISE Family” is for family members to interact respectfully.

Since we can only control our own behavior (ugh!), how do we motivate our children to be respectful as well?



Here are 3 tips that may help:

  1. Teach self-soothing skills

Most of us speak disrespectfully when we’re in (what I call) “Yuck.” Unfortunately, one of the things humans tend to do when we are in a bad place – physically or emotionally – is to turn our Yuck on others, often by speaking rudely.

To change this pattern, give children tools for soothing themselves so they don’t act out their Yuck. Teach them that when they are in Yuck, they can go to a place that makes them feel calm. (You can even create a soothing “Yuck Spot” in your house for this purpose.) If they need to release Yuck in a more physical way, they could rip some newspaper or draw hard on a piece of paper with a black crayon. Self-soothing strategies like these help to reduce Yuck, which reduces disrespect.

  1. Practice seeing other people’s perspectives

One fun way to teach children to see others perspectives is to play the “What’s Their Story?” game.

Choose a person or even an animal. Make up details about their life, and then talk about what life might be like from their point of view. The purpose is to help children see that everyone has a different perspective. When children practice empathy for other people’s points of view, they are much more likely to respect others.

  1. Model respectful behavior

In addition to telling children that respect is important, we must provide a model of what respectful behavior actually looks like. Pay attention to how you treat your friends, your spouse, or even your children. When children know how to act respectful, they’re much more likely to do it – especially when they have also practiced empathy and have the tools to fight the impulses of their Yuck.

About Rachel Bailey:

Rachel Bailey is a stress-free Parenting Specialist who has been serving families in Northern Virginia for a decade. Besides being a mother of two, she also has Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a certification in Positive Discipline. She has worked as an ADHD and Academic Coach, Intensive In-Home Mentor, and psychotherapist. Rachel is committed to helping parents feel good about themselves — from providing hands-on tools for raising children who meet their full potential…to helping them conquer the guilt, pressure, and overwhelming feelings that are associated with parenting today. For more information, please visit her website at or email her at

This was a wonderful tie in to Habit #4 – Speak Respectfully. Thank you so much, Rachel, for your contribution and for further explaining how crucial it is to set boundaries in how families communicate with one another.

Until next week, Be Wise!