Focus on Family: Lessons for instilling respect from author Mary O’Donohue

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Mary O’Donohue

To purchase a copy of the book:

When You Say “Thank You,” Mean It: And 11 Other Lessons for Instilling Lifelong Values In Your Children

Mary’s Tips:

Sit down with your kids and have each person in the family say 1 or 2 specific things that make them feel disrespected at home. (Such as – younger sister borrowing her older sister’s sweater without permission, when kids interrupt when mom is talking, or when your son leaves the bathroom without flushing the toilet!)

Come up with 7 ways to turn those negative experiences into positive behaviors your family would like to see practiced in your home. (Example: If your daughter frequently interrupts you when you’re talking, the respectful behavior is “Wait your turn to talk.”)

Don’t use the word “respect” when choosing respectful behaviors. The idea of “respect” can seem pretty abstract to kids. Be concrete! So, use action words (like “knock before entering,” “ask before borrowing,” and “flush the toilet!”) so everyone in the family understands exactly what actions they need to take to be more respectful.

Have your children create 7 “Respect Tiles” using plain 4×4 tiles from the hardware store or simple 3×5 index card. Each day for a week, your family will focus on the respectful behavior on one of the tiles, so at the end of the week you will have practiced all 7 positive behaviors.

Respect is a two-way street. Mom and dad should practice the respectful behaviors along with the kids each day. That means we as parents need to be knocking before entering our children’s bedrooms, holding doors open for them, not interrupting them, asking before borrowing their belongings, etc… because children should know firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of respect.

At the end of the week, post the 7 respectful behaviors as your “Family Rules of Respect.” Put them where everyone can see like the kitchen or family room so family members know this behavior is expected of everyone.

Acknowledge and reinforce respectful behavior. Let your kids know when you see them being respectful. Consider using the “Respect Tiles” as coasters to reinforce respectful behaviors in a subtle way every day.

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