Dear Families,

This week, I’m sharing a recent Love & Logic article by Jedd Hafer on the topic of teaching children about respectfulness:

Do you know any kids who run the risk of having unpleasant experiences with authority figures?  We see more instances of young people who fail to show basic respect and/or follow simple directions of police officers, teachers, and other authority figures. This phenomenon often produces sad results.  Would it hurt our kids if we taught them to err on the side of being more respectful in their interactions with authority figures? Could it save them tough consequences and perhaps even save them from harm?

It is worth mentioning that there is a time and a place for healthy, respectful disagreement and that not all authority figures are 100% correct or fair. There is certainly a time to take appropriate steps when power is abused. But generally, we will help raise safer and happier kids when we take the following steps:

  • Model Respect: Allow kids to see us showing appropriate respect to authority figures such as bosses, leaders, and law enforcement personnel. Allow them to hear us speaking respectfully about them.
  • Spend Time Talking About Respectful Ways to Respond: We like “what-if” scenarios and informal “discussion questions” such as “What do you think would be some bad ways to talk to your teacher if you disagreed? How about some better ways?” Kids have told us that having some ideas in mind ahead of time really helps
  • Give Kids Practice Disagreeing Respectfully (with you): Some parents have given their kids the phrase, “I’m not sure that’s fair” as a “code phrase” to let the parents know they would like to discuss an issue without getting into a destructive argument.
  • Set Good Limits and Expectations About the Respect They Show You: We love the phrase “I do extra things for people when I feel respected.” Of course, if we make this statement, we need to follow through and go “on strike” from doing some of those extra things when they do not show appropriate respect. 

Expecting kids to show us respect will set the best foundation for teaching them to treat other authority figures with respect as well.  Being intentional about this issue could save kids a lot of heartache—and might even save lives.


In joyful service,

Gretchen Dolan


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