Six Ways to Build A Respectful Family Relationship

May 21, 2019

“How can I explain to my son that he needs to help his parents? Previously, I could just threaten that I would ban him from his computer, but the older he becomes, the more unsuccessful is this method. Sometimes it seems like he doesn’t care about us. If we fall, he’ll just step over us and move on. I understand that he’s almost 12 and he’s about to turn into a teenager, but we’re parents, we are his family! How can I teach my child to respect his elders?”

— Elena, 42

Parents want to maintain warm relationships with their children, and although children are rarely born just for the sake of providing the proverbial glass of water, it is still a nice thought that they will be able to bring this glass after growing up.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are instances when adult children and parents do not get along, when they have differences, and sometimes even stop communicating with each other. This is because not all people will treat the family and parents with respect and care. If you want to continue communicating with your children after they have grown up, you need to lay the foundations for a healthy relationship — mutual respect and a desire to help each other.


So, how do you raise children who will treat you with attention and love now and years later? Who will help with household chores not out of fear of punishment, but because they understand the importance of helping? Who will take care of loved ones not because adults force them to do it, but voluntarily? We won’t deny that it’s a difficult task, but we’re confident that you can do it.

How to communicate with children to instill respect

These methods will help not only to instill respect for the elders within the child but also to build warm and trusting relationships within the family.

Method 1 Respect your child

This is an obvious but often ignored statement.

“Why? I certainly don’t need to respect these snotters! Respect must be earned!” — could be the retort of any adult. But children are best at learning by example, so if you want to teach your child to respect his/her parents, you should respect his/her interests and opinions yourself.

Sooner or later there comes a time when children grow up and stop idolizing their parents. If Mom and Dad talk to their children only about getting good grades, eating on time, and doing homework, the children inevitably distance themselves and treat their parents without due respect. That’s why building close relationships is so important and why you shouldn’t let this process slide.

Method 2 Create a nurturing and safe environment in the family

Listen to your child, show interest in his/her opinion, support his/her hobbies and undertakings, do not ridicule, and do not humiliate your child. Children should feel that family is where they will be accepted purely as who are. Whether talented or not, with poor grades or having won second place at the academic competition, whether joyful or sad, all people – but children especially – need to be loved. To be loved “just because”, not because of grades and merit, but simply because they exist.

Method 3 Provide a good example

In addition to respecting your children, you need to respect other  relationships in the family as well. For example, you can respect your child, but be dismissive of his/her mother or grandmother. In this case, there is a high probability that the respect the child offers will also be selective.

Take a closer look and you will see that children are already copying your actions, expressions and habits. Show respect for your parents and loved ones, do not insult or humiliate them and be sympathetic to the choices and opinions of others. Then your child will be able to adopt your way of interacting with the world.


Method 4 Show your child different behaviors, discuss them

It is good if the child has the opportunity not only to see how different the behavior of people can be, but also to discuss these differences with you. Comment on what you do yourself, pay attention to the actions of others and ask the child what he/she

 thinks. Such conversations should take the form of dialogue, and not of a lecture or sermon.

“One day we were in a zoo where we could feed the monkeys. They were all so different: some were quiet and peaceful, and some of them were aggressive. However, the children were particularly impressed by the monkey family: mother, father and baby. Do you know what the daddy monkey was doing? He was pushing away his family members and snatching food from the hands of visitors. Of course, we tried to outsmart him, distracting the daddy monkey and tossing pieces of food so that mother and baby could grab them. The children understood what was going on within minutes. It was such a demonstrative pedagogical situation! Of course, I took advantage of the moment and asked the kids what they thought about it. Children were so obsessed with the greedy monkey that they discussed the situation for several days. We came to the conclusion that sharing with the family is important, and that we, their parents, do so. For example, we would not eat the whole cake alone — and children are very happy about it.” – Julia, 37

Method 5 Develop empathy in children

Empathy plays a significant role in the development of children’s respect for parents. What is it? It is the ability to sympathize with others and understand what they can feel. Some believe that only girls should be caring and attentive, but, of course, compassion, kindness and the desire to care for loved ones are universal qualities. They need to be developed in all children, especially if we want to be respected not only by our daughters but also by our sons.

Developed empathy helps to understand what outcome specific actions might lead to. The kitten can be hurt. Mom’s going to worry if I’m late and don’t warn her. My brother will get upset and angry if I take his things without permission.

The ability to empathize in children is developed in several stages.

1.   Try to understand your children, don’t devalue their emotions and don’t forbid them to feel. Sometimes children are forbidden from feeling certain emotions from childhood. “Don’t cry, it doesn’t hurt that much; you should be ashamed to cry because of such nonsense”. “First love is no big deal, there’ll be a hundred more.” As a result, the child does not receive a positive experience of dealing with their feelings and begins to treat other people in a similar way. “So what if I came late and didn’t pick up the phone, why is it such a big deal? It’s not something you should worry about, Mom.”

2.   Teach your child to recognize his/her emotions. To do this, talk about how both of you feel. For instance:

“You’re sad about losing your toy, I’d be sad too.

“I was upset that you promised to wash the dishes and didn’t, even though you had free time. Now I’m going to have to do the dishes myself, and I’m already tired.”

3. Discuss with your child what other people might feel. Voice other people’s emotions. For instance:

“It’s not surprising that Masha cried in class. Her cat died and she was very upset.

“Our grandmother worries very much if we don’t call her. She’s calmer when she knows we’re doing well.”

To instill respect for parents through examples, practice using real life situations as well as cartoons, movies, and books.

4. Help other people, both by yourself and together with your children. Don’t create distance from what’s going on around you. If you see that someone needs help and you can offer it, take your child and do it together. At the same time, it is not necessary to accompany what is happening with long moral teachings, a few words are usually enough. “Let’s give our seat to the granny; it’s hard for her to stay standing.”

Method 6 Use positive reinforcement

Pay attention to the actions of your children that seem desirable to you and highlight them. It is better to use explicit structures, rather than a standard “well done.”  For instance:

“It’s great that you put the food in the fridge, thanks, I almost forgot about it.”

“I was very pleased that you stood up for that girl. It was brave of you.”

At the same time, it is better not to put too much emphasis on actions that seem inadvisable to you, because a negative response may reinforce that behavior. In other words, the method of carrot and lack of carrot will be more effective than that of a carrot on a stick.

Behavioral psychology techniques, such as the 7Spsy behavior modification technique, also work well. By changing his/her mindset, a child learns how to behave in different situations, and begins to feel respect for relatives. He/she learns to be sensitive and caring, instead of daring and snapping. The advantage of such a program is that parents do not need to wait until the child matures and understands everything on his/her own. We can influence the behavior of children and establish the right habits now.


In addition to different ways to build a trust-based and a warm relationship, there are several important “never” rules.

7 important "nevers ..."

Of course, “never say never,” but to cultivate respect for the elders, it is better to adhere to these basics, if possible.

1.   Never lie to the child. This includes both little lies (I did not eat your candy, and the candy wrappers must have been planted by evil-doers), and major lies (if you lie, you’ll be hit with thunder). Most likely, the child will fact-check the information he/she received from you or compare it with information from other sources and will understand whether he/she was deceived. Do you think you can trust and respect someone who is constantly deceiving you?

2.   Never ask rhetorical questions. Sometimes parents ask questions not because they want to hear the answer, but to teach the child a lesson. In these cases, the question itself sounds like a reproach. “Why did you scatter the flour in the kitchen? Who asked you to touch it? What have I done to deserve this?” Of course, there will be no direct answer to such questions. The child does not know the answers. For example, he/she merely wanted to make a pie or do an experiment. So if you want to know the reason, ask about the cause, and do not scold the child using rhetorical questions.

3.   Never manipulate child’s feelings. For most children situations where parents threaten to deprive them of their love are very painful. “I’m not going to love a bad child. I’ll leave you. I’ll send you to an orphanage. Go to your room and do not come out until you’re ready to behave” — all these phrases may improve a child’s behavior for a while because of the fear of being abandoned. Such an improvement is unlikely to be  long-lasting, and in the long run, it will help to raise an indifferent child, who will be emotionally distant in order to avoid pain and disappointment.

4.   Never change your expectations without reason. It is far better when the expectations of parents are simple and clear. If adults constantly change their demands, it will cause the children to feel insecure and unstable. For example, today parents are demanding that the child reads more but tomorrow they will be indignant about all the time spent reading instead of with friends. Today parents may want their child to remain silent and not to argue, but tomorrow to finally stand up and fight back.

5.   Never humiliate a child or ridicule his/her behavior. First of all, that is how you teach your child to ridicule and humiliate others (and you as well). Secondly, you undermine their confidence in you and make their relationship with you painful and unpleasant. It is not uncommon for adult children to stop communicating with their parents because of the latter’s constant mocking and bullying.

6.   Never expect from a child more than he/she can give. Your expectations should be in line with the age and level of development of the child. For example, until a certain age the selfishness of children is normal. Even younger schoolchildren cannot always put themselves into the shoes of others or assess the consequences of their actions. Also, if parents have not previously paid attention to teaching the child to respect their elders and only just started, it’s useless to expect the child to instantly change his/her behavior. Such changes won’t be any easier for the child than they would have been for you.

7.   Never demand perfect behavior without mistakes. All people make mistakes, you can’t always be perfect. Often parents forget about this and make an issue out of the slightest mistake, demanding impeccable behavior not only from their children but also from themselves. This is, of course, unrealistic. There will always be mistakes; there will always be those who don’t like us. We can’t be attentive and prudent all the time. Allow yourself and your children the room to make mistakes — it will make your life more enjoyable and easier.

If it is difficult for you to change your behavior and the behavior of the child at the same time. One solution is to use the patented method of behavioral therapy — 7Spsy behavior modification technique. The method is based on the theories of famous psychologists and physiologists, such as  I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky.

This technique will help your child to change behavior even when the rest of your family is unwilling or unable to change. The child will take classes on his own, in the home setting, and anonymously. At the same time, he/she will  always be able to count on the support of our psychologists via online chats, phone, email or Skype. The child can choose the way to communicate. Thanks to the daily format of work, within 2-6 weeks the student will treat the family with more respect, start to be proactive and offer help around the house. Your child will show more care and attention to you and younger brothers and sisters. You will only have to adjust to the changes to continue to jointly create an atmosphere of respect within the family.

Remember, children grow up in your image, so nurturing love and respect for the family is a jointly shared task. The sooner you start, the better will be your chances of success.



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