Written by Doctor G

How to Teach Kids to Show Respect: 5 Ways!

Dr. G, I don’t feel that my 11 year old is very respectful of the adults in her life. When I say this, she doesn’t even understand what I mean. How can I teach her  to show some respect?

Allan, in Oklahoma City, OK


Showing respect is not a natural gift for most of us. We learn the “secret code” that allows others to feel heard, valued, honored. 

How do we learn it?

Some kids have great people skills and just get these messages by living with people who treat others respectfully. If you ask me, though, that is a lot to hope for most of the time! Teach these five skills and your children will have great interactions.

  1.  Stand up straight. Body language speaks to us, even when we’re not aware of it. Want a teacher or supervisor to take your teenager seriously? Point out the difference in how they are treated when they face someone with good posture.
  2. Make eye contact. Even for the shyest child, making eye contact is possible and creates relationships.
  3. Use the person’s name. Ok, I’ll be honest – I think they should use a title as well (either Mrs. Johnson or Ms. Susan, whatever works for your family). But if using a title is not in your world view, still teach your kids to use a person’s name in the first sentence of a conversation.
  4. Find a reason to thank or compliment that person. This is not empty flattery! To thank or compliment someone we must really see that person and find something of value.
  5. Learn a firm handshake. Boys, girls, everyone needs to know how to shake a hand without awkwardness. That physical connection, however formal and brief, cements the connection.

Do these sound boring and old-fashioned to you? Try them today for yourself. The next time you interact with someone who is a stranger to you, or a person with whom you have infrequent interactions, run through this list. You’ll be amazed at what an old-fashioned, respectful interaction can do for you and them!

Our kids may not (OK, will not) use these skills every time they speak to an adult. However, they need to know how.

What do your kids do, when they meet someone new, that you really love to see?

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6 thoughts on “How to Teach Kids to Show Respect: 5 Ways!”

  1. Thank you for this post. I’m having some respect issues with my 12-year-old son now so the information is truly helpful for both of us. A lot of times he doesn’t even know he’s being disrespectful so these lessons reinforce what I have been trying to teach him. It’s not always what you mean but rather how it is perceived that counts.

    1. Sue, that is exactly the case! We give our kids a big gift when we teach them to understand how others will see them.

  2. Thank you very much for your tips Dr. G I will apply it. but anyway, I have another question. I have 12 year old son and 4 year old daughter. how can I teach my son to be gentle to her sister. what must we do to make them get along to each other. we both love them but most of time my eldest son is the getting screwed up because of his treatment to our daughter. I would really appreciate if you can give us some insight how to handle my son and my daughter. Because a father I want to give the best advice and example that I can give to both of them of course me and my wife have one aim. to raise our children to be a better and God fearing people. Thank you very much and more power to you.

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