Sitewide-FebBOD-10usd728x90

How to Teach Your Child Respect for Authority

The following two tabs change content below.
Focus on the Family Singapore Limited is a local charity with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status dedicated to helping families thrive by being a voice for Family. We partner individuals and organizations to nurture families at different life stages through transformational family life education, trusted resources, content placements and counseling. (Find out more at www.family.org.sg.)

Latest posts by Focus on the Family Singapore (see all)

Inculcating respect in your child can be a challenging prospect – but consistency is key.
By: Judith Xavier

Respect AuthorityIn the first few years of parenting my firstborn, inculcating values and discipline was a simple affair. I had more than a few moments of parental smugness as I congratulated myself on my superb mothering skills. What I didn’t realise was that our eldest child had a naturally compliant personality, and liked following rules and obeying his elders. I had a rude awakening with my second child, whose personal motto appeared to be “Rules are Made to be Broken”. Teaching this child to respect authority was considerably more challenging. Many parenting books, prayers and countless power struggles later, we have made some headway with these ideas:

Fill your Child’s Love Tank
To fill his love tank first – that’s the wisest advice we’ve received in parenting our strong-willed child. Research has found that children who have loving and supportive parents are less likely to have behavioural issues, or struggle with depressive or unhealthy emotional symptoms. In fact, a study has shown that nurturing can even positively alter a child’s brain! Rather than focusing on our child’s disrespectful behaviour and meting out consequences, we prioritised spending one-on-one time with him daily. We spent time doing simple activities like chatting over a snack, playing card games or just reading together. We then saw a dramatic improvement in his willingness to listen to us and obey instructions.

If a child refuses to respect your authority, it may be a sign of a strained relationship that needs to be repaired. Spending quality time together is the best way to understand your child better, and show them that you love them.

Research has found that children who have loving and supportive parents are less likely to have behavioural issues, or struggle with depressive or unhealthy emotional symptoms.

Master the Basics
Teaching a child to respect authority requires us to be intentional. Often, we tend to ignore disrespectful behaviour by very young children, thinking that the child is too young to know better, or that they will outgrow poor behavioural habits. However, in our experience, a child doesn’t just develop a sense of respect for authority as they get older. Instead, it has to be explicitly taught. Guiding your child to master basic manners is part of this process. One way is to consistently encourage your young child to greet his elders, and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when requesting for something. Reinforce it by praising your children when they remember to do it on their own too.

For our child, once he understood the value of being polite and considerate to his elders, it became easier to discuss how and when he needed to respect authority in other situations.

Recognise that Autonomy is not Rebellion
Children develop a natural desire for autonomy in the toddler and primary school years, and this shows itself in the way our children try to make their own choices. This shift towards thinking and acting independently does not mean rebellion. In our parenting journey, we have made a conscious choice not to simply label every contrary action of our children as disrespecting authority. Rather, we try to consider each situation on its own, and assess if our child is simply asserting himself.

Have a separate discussion with your spouse on the boundaries you wish to set for your child, and the key areas where you will require obedience. This also empowers your children to make choices and express themselves confidently, reducing the power struggles you have.

For our child, once he understood the value of being polite and considerate to his elders, it became easier to discuss how and when he needed to respect authority in other situations.

Make an Honest Self Appraisal
As parents, we are our children’s first teachers and likely to have the greatest influence on them, especially in the early years. As we contend with many negative examples of respect for authority in the media and in real-life, we will need to consistently be a positive role model in this area.

Personally, I am more mindful these days of how I speak about others – especially my bosses and my elders. While we believe in being honest and transparent about disagreements, my husband and I are learning to state opinions respectfully without disparaging others, and have been encouraged to see our children take their cues from us.

Inculcating respect for authority is perhaps one of the biggest tasks in the parenting journey, and happens gradually over time. Be patient with yourself and your child as you consistently guide, encourage and affirm your child in this aspect. While it can feel uphill at times, the end result is well worth it – your children will grow up to be well-adjusted adults with a healthy respect for authority.

© 2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.


Add Comment

Udemy