In order to raise respectful children and teens
I would say that the first thing is for parents
to start developing themselves
and being worthy of respect from day one.
You Do Not Automatically Deserve Respect
One mistake parents often make is thinking they deserve respect from their kids just because they’re their parents. In fact I believe that it is our job to earn our kids respect for we have brought them into this world. They are here because of us, we didn’t ask them, we didn’t consult them, we have power over them… why should they respect us?
They Will Respect Us If We Are Deserving Of It
I worked on being worthy of my child’s respect from day one, never expecting it from her. It’s no accident then that we have a good relationship. She doesn’t respect me and others because she’s been told to do so; she does it because it feels like the right thing to do, from the inside out.
She also knows that when someone doesn’t deserve respect she doesn’t have to be NICE just for the sake of appearing nice. She deserves to be treated well. Real respect comes from self-respect.
Real Respect Comes From Self-Respect
So it seems to me the deeper question is not how to get kids to respect others, but how to get them to respect themselves.
Not in a selfish, entitled and arrogant way, for that is not real respect. Any of those qualities come from insecurity, pain and a lack of self-respect. They are ways to compensate for the lack of wholeness within.
It saddens me when people think the path to fixing these negative attitudes is to increase harshness and control over kids. The only path to true change is to help them heal, to feel more loved and to inspire them to love and respect themselves.
How To Inspire True Self-Respect?
What are the ingredients for the kind of self-respect that translates into treating others with respect? For this is our goal, that respect is not a behavioural habit, so much as something that springs spontaneously from our inner state. This is a deeper form of respect and much more enduring.
You Are Unconditionally Worthy Of Love And Respect
The first ingredient is an inner awareness that we are unconditionally worthy.
Worthy of love,
worthy of respect ourselves,
and worthy of friendship.
It is when we feel those things are conditional that we put energy into trying to achieve them. If I feel I am not inherently worthy of love then I will try and get love from external sources.
This results in manipulation, control and the inability to be authentic with other people.
When I am secure in my worth
then I do not have the same need to create
love, friendship, and respect from other people.
Acceptance Has Transformative Power
A powerful method for instilling a sense of unconditional worth in people is to give them an experience of being accepted. When somebody feels accepted for who they are they are touched in a very deep way. I will give you a beautiful example of this.
My Mother Does Volunteer Work In Prison
She teaches self-empowerment workshops to the prisoners.
One of the main messages that she gives them from the very start is that she accepts them and loves them as they are because she can see the inner light inside of them.
She tells them that she knows in their essence
they are beautiful, loving and perfect.
She recognizes that they have made mistakes
and need to change their lives so that it doesn’t happen again,
but this does not make them bad people.
They Have To Believe In Themselves
In fact she tells them the only way they can truly change their lives is if they start to see themselves as beautiful, loving and perfect. They have to see then they have infinite potential and beauty within.
Every time she works with a new group she gets a little nervous about them.
She is wondering:
“Will these people respond to my message?”
The Message Of Love Gets Through The Toughest Exterior
And yet every time, no matter how tough the guys are,
no matter how hardened they seem
they always respond with open hearts.
Sometimes she is even warned that the next group she gets will be really tough and they are difficult, obstinate and violent people. When they spend only one or two sessions with her giving them this message they seem ready to lay their lives down for her they love her so much!
It is truly a miracle to see the transformation these men go through when someone tells them with sincerity, with authenticity that they love them, respect them and see the good in them.
I drive her there and pick her up every week so I get to see these men myself. When they walk out of the room they all look a little bit in shock at the experience they have just had.
We Can Have A Profound And Powerful Effect On People
This has been a very profound lesson for me.
It shows me that with a small amount of acceptance and validation
we can have a powerful and profound effect upon the consciousness of people.
Therefore if we can approach young people with the same acceptance and do our best to instil it in them from an early age, they will have a sense of how beautiful, loving and perfect they are.
Then they will not have need to behave in ways
that control or manipulate others into filling the inner lack that they feel.
Experiment With Radical Acceptance
Fight Your Habitual Reactions
The next time a young person comes to you in a way that seems disrespectful or rude
take a moment to pause,
take an extra breath,
take two steps back
and look for the love in your heart
instead of the natural defensive reaction that we all feel.
Then let that love pour out to them in a demonstration of acceptance for who they are. Let that acceptance include the rude behaviour they are exhibiting.
For if they find that your response is loving acceptance rather than defensiveness, aggressiveness, anger or even hurt, then they will start to feel that love seep into their own hearts and healing can begin.
I Have Seen The Results Of Acceptance Over And Over
I have done this countless times with many many young people over the years
from as young an age as less than one all the way up to…,
well really I do it with everybody!
It is how I try and live.
But doing it with young people the effect is quite astonishing because they are still developing and it is easier to touch something transformative within.
Children Are Not Lab Rats To Be Trained!
I know that the traditional way of looking at this kind of suggestion is that we are rewarding negative behaviours with positive reinforcement and this will cause them to repeat those behaviours.
This is not the case.
This is not about training laboratory animals through positive and negative reinforcement.
This is about relating to another human,
filling them with love and self-worth,
and healing the wounds caused by lack, trauma and neglect in their life.
So that they can feel whole inside.
So that they can feel unconditional love and respect for themselves.
The automatic result of these feelings is that love and respect for others shines through.
If you do have an opportunity to try this please let me know how it goes.