Posted by: Asa Don Brown on February 17, 2012 1:14 pm

As parents, we are often reminded that our children are direct reflections of our own lives.  Whether we have a singular fear or set of fears, the likelihood of our children adapting such fears into their own lives is greatly increased.  Moreover, if we have a successful habit, the likelihood our children will employ this habitual act into their own lives increases as well.  Children thrive upon our dos and don’ts of life.  They consciously and unconsciously inherit a vast array of our mannerisms, habits, phobias, traits, and personalities.  Children are sponges soaking up the very essence of our lives. 

As a therapist, I have worked with many parents who felt disrespected by their children.  Sadly, it is not rare for the same parental figures to be struggling with respect within their marital relationship. When parents indicate that their children are “being disrespectful,” or that they are “showing little respect;” I begin by asking the parents to define the meaning of respect.  Why? Everyone has an unique definition of respect, but not all respect is equivalent in its meaning.


Respect is an expression of admiration, approval, acceptance, and loyalty.  Someone who respects another, show’s an unwavering emotional connection consciously and unconsciously through their actions, words, deeds, and reactions. 

Of equal importance, children should show personal respect unto themselves.  A child who disrespects their own being, is at greater odds of disrespecting others, because ultimately they have no relationship with respect. 


Respect begins within the home.  Parents who demand respect, rarely are demanding respect itself, as much as they are demanding obedience.  “It is important to distinguish between respect and obedience. A child may obey you simply because he is afraid of you. However, when a child understands that your rules and disciplinary actions are ultimately for his own good, he will obey you because he respects you.” (Bueno, 2012, Online) Respect cannot be demanded. Ultimately, respectful parenting equates to respectful children.  If you respect your children, then your children will respect you and others. 


All too often, parents who are begging for respect in the home, are battling negative behaviors.  Children who are acting out or showing little respect, are frequently wanting to be heard.  “A child must feel that what he does matters.  If the good things he does do not seem to matter to his parents, then he is forced to see whether what he does bad matters to them.” (Braman, 1997, p. 15) Children are not unlike you or I, we want to be heard, we want to be valued.Why is the life of a child of any less value? For after all, are they not maturing adults? 


Respect begins by the language we choose to use in our home.  Children learn respect from those who are their primary caregivers (parents and teachers).  If I, show little respect for my wife, but am diligent to show great respect to my children.  The lesson learned is, show great respect to those you bore, but do not respect those who are your lifelong mate.  It is vitally important that respect is shown throughout the home.  Likewise, respect should be shown unto to others, including the strangers within your community.

We cannot demand respect if we disrespect.  Keep in mind that respect can only be achieved when we offer respect for all life.  Whether it be human or not, it is about offering an unconditional approach and acceptance of life. 


Discipline does not have to be entrenched with negativity.   Discipline can be achieved with a respectful atmosphere and in a respectful environment.  “When we must communicate our displeasure to a child or group of children, we can do so without launching a verbal attack.” (Block, 1993, p. 44)   Children should receive discipline, but through a positive and respectful approach.  We do not have speak down to our children, nor do we have to belittle  children to draw their attention to a “bad behavior.”  Keep in mind, children should be shown the same respect that you desire. 


How do I teach my children to be respectful?  Begin by respecting your children, your spouse, and others.  Offer your children praise when they succeed or fail.  Be authentic with the praise your offer your children.  Children need to be reassured of their goodness, worth, and value. 

Respect is most effective when offered through an unconditional spirit of love.  If I offer my children an unconditional spirit of love, my children will accept me whether I fail or succeed, as a parent or as a person.  Likewise, I too should show the same spirit of love whether or not my children succeed or fail in life.  For after all, our personal being is greater than the accomplishments we strive to achieve, or the failures we strive to overcome. 

Respect is about showing compassion, dignity, and equality. “Now more than ever, people are aware of the importance of teaching children to respect people of various sizes, abilities, ethnicities and ages. When children respect themselves and others, they feel good about who they are. When children learn to value people who are different from themselves, they are better prepared to live peacefully in a diverse world.” (Erwin and Soodak, 2012, Online)


Braman, O. R. (1997) The oppositional child. Indiana: Kidsrights

Bloch, D. (1993) Positive self-talk for children, Teaching self-esteem through affirmations, A guide for parents, teachers, and counselors. New York:  Bantam Books

Bueno, L. (2012) Teaching children about respect. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from

Eriwn, E., Soodak, L. (2012) Respecting differences:  Everyday ways to teach children about respect. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

0 comments on “Respect”

  1. Tracy says:

    Thank you for your inspiring thoughts. Respect is a value that can be beneficial throughout a lifetime. Could you imagine the world we would live in if people simply treated everyone and everything with respect. I appreciate the reminder that respect cannot be demanded. This is a valuable lesson for all parents, if respect is given to children and each other then respect will be returned. I will have to focus more efforts on simply respecting my husband and children. Thank you again Dr Brown.

    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for offering your feedback and your time. Respect is something that should displayed throughout the home. Respect is something that should be inherent in the dynamics of a family. Finally, I do wish to imagine that our world will one day have a global epidemic of respect and love.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  2. Rocio Ruiz says:

    It’s important to teach respect to children because learning respect they start to act with respect to others and with oneself

    1. Dear Rocio Ruiz,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. You are correct that it is important that we teach respect to our children.

      Again, thank you for your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Rudy says:

    As lifelong learner, I starve for positive communication. At the heart of everyone is a soul hungering for respect. As an executive I am always seeking to employee positive communication. In my opinion respect is all about communication. Communication is at the heart of everything you do as a senior executive. I have had the privilege of being educated about positive and constructive communication. A majority of studies that I have read have indicated as much as 80 percent of their workday communicating. You spend your day talking, listening, presenting, and sharing information with people both inside and outside the organization. The better you are at sharing ideas and communicating with your customers, the better you will be at understanding people’s needs, desires, and wants. It will further make you more successful you will be in your work. Dr. Brown I have enjoyed your articles and will continue to be a faithful follower.

    1. Dear Rudy,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback. I too am a lifelong learner, starving for positive communication. Your analysis of communication as being the heart of relationships is a vitally important aspect of respect. Without positive communication, we are incapable of showing “respect.” Respect is the embodiment of positive communication.

      Rudy, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and positive feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Deborah Pickering says:

    Hello Dr. Brown,
    I believe that the subject of this article is at the very heart of most conflict in families, communities, and nations. I realise that many wars are based on religious differences but, that is still a lack of respect for each sides beliefs.
    I cannot begin to tell you how often this subject comes up in conversation. In fact just last evening some friends and I were discussing how prevalent is the lack of respect people have for each other, not just youth.
    I agree with you that teaching and giving respect to children within the family unit is where this lesson must start. As you said, it does no good for children to witness respect among adults, yet not toward them or, for children to be respected and to witness desrespect among the adults. Also, we can teach respectful behavior in the school environment however, when the children go home and there is no respect there, the lesson is lost.
    I remember during my childhood that respect was taught, and demanded. At the same time children were not treated with respect. What happens is, children become resentful, and disrespectful.
    To be fair though, when people have never been taught respect or treated with respect it is not within the realm of their knowedge base to practice respectful behavior or to pass it on to their own children.
    I don’t mean to excuse disrespectful behavior, only to point out how lacking respectful behavior has become. Oh wait! That is what your article is doing! Pardon me!
    I’d love to hear more from you on this subject in regard to methods of reaching a wider audience than our immediate families and friends.
    Thanks for addressing this important issue Dr.Brown

    1. Dear Deborah Pickering,

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to reply and offer your thoughtful feedback. In your reply you mention that respect was not only taught but demanded in your home. It is important to recognize the difference between respect and obedience. For often, we confuse the two ideas, while one is something we earn and should cherish; the other (obedience) is frequently confused with the latter. Respect is not obedience, rather has a kindred spirit in love.

      Respect and love have kindred spirits, because they have varying ideological viewpoints which frequently parallel. In love, we have agape which is love established in fellowship or reverence for a higher being; eros a form of love that is sexual or desirable. For respect, these two types of love could be applied to respect. We might have a respect for those we fellowship with, as well as, have a deepened and emotional love for someone we have a sexual or desirable relationship with.

      We can have respect for our mate, family, friends, and our fellow humans; As in the emotion of love, there are various forms of respect. We have a form of respect established in admiration; we have a form of respect established in trust; we also have a form of respect simply in being human. In human respect, we seek not to cause harm towards our fellow-being; we offer hope and reassurance that they are worthy.

      Obedience is established in compliance with one’s wishes, desires, or orders. I may comply with my instructor if I desire to pass his or her class; I may comply with my parental figure if I wish not to have a graver and more extensive consequence such as being grounded; I may comply with the officer if I wish not to go to jail; I may comply with my boss if I wish to keep my job. NOTEWORTHY: I should never comply to abuse, abusive rhetoric, or anything that intends physical, emotional, or psychological harm. I should only comply to something that is positively constructed and that intends no harm.

      Finally, I may show respect towards someone that I am in compliance with (i.e. teacher, principal, parent, etc), but I cannot be forced to offer respect. Respect liken love is something that I first of all should have for myself, then offer unto others.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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