Parenting is hard. You strive for the perfect balance between disciplinarian and nurturer, but it’s hard to tell if you’re hitting the mark since your kid probably won’t sit you down and tell you how much they listen to your sterling advice and look up to you.
Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, most kids aren’t going to volunteer that information.
We have to work with what they give us, so how can you know that your child respects you?
Here are some clues.
1) Kids and communication
Funny how this works.
Your kid’s teachers rave about the kind, mild-mannered humanitarian your little House Devil/Street Angel is and you have to wonder, are we sure we’re talking about the same kid?
It’s not easy helping your kid navigate all the big emotions like frustration, anger, or sadness.
But if your child is secure enough to be honest with you about their feelings, take it as a sign that they trust you to understand where they are coming from and that you’ll support them.
So if it seems like your child is saving all their tough feelings and ire just for lucky you, you’re right. This can be frustrating, but, believe it or not, it’s actually one for the “win” column.
It doesn’t matter if your child isn’t breaching serious issues with you. If they feel comfortable enough to share any concerns at all is a good indication that your child respects you.
As parents, strive to model respectful behavior at all times. This means paying attention and listening carefully to what your child is trying to convey.
2) Good manners
This may seem somewhat obvious, but if your child practices basic good manners, (like saying “please” and “thank you,”) this indicates mucho respect for you on multiple levels.
Why? Because it means they’ve actually been paying attention to your instructions and incorporated these directives into their daily interactions with others.
Simple things like saying “please” or “thank you” demonstrates that your kid understands the concept of mutual exchange, and discourages a sense of entitlement. Using good manners show they understand the necessity and benefits of respectful behavior.
When kids say ‘thanks’ after they are given something, they learn that life’s a series of give-and-take. They also learn that the world will not be served on a silver platter for them.
3) Copycat behavior
Toddlers and small children love to imitate the adults in their lives, particularly their parents with whom they spend most of their time.
Copycat behavior can seem adorable at best or annoying at worst, but it’s a productive exercise for your child when it comes to learning respectful behavior.
So, when a child models their parents’ behavior, they’re attempting to assume the respectful actions that they know are valued by adults.
Praise-seeking isn’t necessarily a borderline annoying, negative trait in children.
If your child expects to be praised by you whenever they behave well, that implies they know that having a respectful attitude will get you further than a rude one.
Most importantly, your kid wanting to receive praise from you specifically means they genuinely care what you think of them.
But let’s be honest. It takes superhuman patience to show interest in your child’s latest drawing for the hundredth time. But take heart, Mom and Dad. It’s a very good sign that your kid feels a really strong emotional connection with you.
When your child is proud of what they’ve accomplished, you can share that special moment and feeling of pride with them.
Reward-based behavioral programs are effective tools to address the cycles of defiance that sometimes plague parent-child relationships. Increased cooperation initiated by the child allows parents to engage more positively with their children.
It’s easy to miss some of the signs that your child respects you.
If your child actually understands and utilizes self-respect, that implies they get the concept of valuing both their own worth and that of others.
Children who treat themselves well are less apt to do dangerous things, more likely to make good choices and show respect to you and other important adults in their lives.
6) Empathy is evident
Compassion is hard to teach. In fact, many experts agree that empathy is best learned by children when their parents exhibit empathic behavior themselves. So if your kid shows concern and empathy towards others, that’s the calling card of a respectful child.
Teaching the concept of civility is a vital component of raising respectful and empathetic kids. We all have to live in the world together, so civility is a must.
The components of civility include self-control, awareness, respect, and empathy. As adults, we need to think about the impact our words and deeds have on others before we speak or act.
Little pitchers have big ears, as my Grammy used to say.
7) No ultimatums
Black-and-white disciplinary measures for your children usually backfire because it’s impossible for parents to consistently follow through on these types of punishments.
After all, nobody likes an ultimatum.
So if your kid communicates without ultimatum-type demands, that’s a sign that they appreciate balanced discipline and appreciate you for it.
Children raised without ultimatum-based discipline are more likely to both value and practice respectful behavior as opposed to turning to fear or apathy.
So if your child refrains from using threats or ultimatums to get what they want, that’s a strong indicator that they comprehend the value and importance of being respectful.
They come to you
The adolescent years are usually the time when your child will start spreading their wings. Their world is expanding, and their peers have a very strong influence on their behaviors and opinions.
And, while it can be bittersweet watching your teenager spend less time at home and more with their friends, adolescents with secure attachment styles (that they learned from their parents) are more likely to try new things.
And that’s exactly what they should be doing.
But when your kid encounters problems, they’ll feel comfortable coming to you to talk about their feelings and maybe even seek your guidance.
So never fear. That’s proof that even while they grow further apart from you, you still enjoy a strong connection with one another.
It can be challenging to ascertain how much help to give your child during this time. You can’t fix everything for your kids, nor should you even try to.
But always remember that your role as your child’s safe space hasn’t changed. And, more than likely, it never will.