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6 Ways to Build A Respectful Family Relationship

21.05.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“How can I explain to my son that he needs to help his parents? Previously, I could just threaten that I will cut him away from computer, but the older he becomes, the worse this method works. Sometimes it seems like he doesn’t care about us. If we fall, he’ll just step over us and move on. I understand, he’s almost 12, he’s about to turn into a teenager, but we’re parents, we are his family! How can I teach a child to respect elders?”

— Elena, 42

Many parents want to keep a warm relationship with their children, and although children are rarely born just for the sake of providing the proverbial glass of water, it is still a nice thought that they will be able to bring this glass after growing up.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are stories when adult children and parents do not get along, have differences, and sometimes even stop communicating with each other. This is because not all people can treat the family and parents with respect and care. If you want to continue communicating with your children after they grow up, you need to lay the foundation for a healthy relationship — respect and desire to help, now. Moreover, the respect must be mutual.

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So, how to raise children who will treat you with attention and love now and years later? Who will help with household chores not out of fear of punishment, but because they understand the importance of helping? Who will take care of loved ones not only when adults force them to do it, but voluntarily? We won’t deny that it’s a difficult task, but we’re confident that you can do it.


How to communicate with children to instill respect

how to teach a child to respect elders

These methods will help not only to instill respect for the elders in the child but also to build a warm and trusting relationship in the family.

Method 1 Respect your child

It is an obvious but often ignored method. “Why? I certainly don’t need to respect these snotters! Respect must be earned!” — could say any adult. But children are best at learning by example, so if you want to teach your child to respect his/her parents, you should respect his/her interests and opinions in turn.

Sooner or later there comes a time when children grow up and stop idolizing their parents. If mom and dad talk to their children only about getting good grades, eating on time and doing homework, the children inevitably distance themselves and treat their parents without due respect. That’s why building close relationships is so important; you shouldn’t let this process slide.

Method 2 Create a nurturing and safe environment in the family

Listen to your child, show interest in his/her opinion, support his/her hobbies and undertakings, do not ridicule and do not humiliate him/her. Children should feel that family is where they will be accepted as they are: talented or not, with poor grades in the quarter or having won second place at the academic competition, joyful or sad. All people, but children in particular, need to be loved “just because”, not because of grades and merit, but simply because they exist.

Method 3 Provide a good example

In addition to respecting your children, you need to create the same relationship in the family as a whole. For example, you can respect your child, but be dismissive of his/her mother or grandmother. In this case, there is a high probability that the respect the child affords will also be selective.

Take a closer look and you will see that children are already copying your actions, expressions and habits. Show respect for your parents and loved ones, do not insult or humiliate them, be sympathetic to the choice and opinion of others. Then your child will be able to adopt your way of interacting with the world.

Method 4 Show your child different behaviors, discuss them

fostering love and respect in the family

It is good if the child has the opportunity not only to see how different the behavior of people can be but also to discuss it with you. Comment on what you do yourself, pay attention to the actions that others do and ask the child what he thinks about it. Such conversations should take the form of dialogue, and not of a lecture or preachment.

“One day we were in a zoo where we could feed monkeys. They were all so different: some were quiet and peaceful, and some of them were aggressive. However, children were particularly impressed by the monkey family: mother, father and baby. Do you know what the daddy monkey was doing? He was pushing away his family members and snatching away food from the hands of visitors. Of course, we tried to outsmart him, distracting the daddy monkey and tossing pieces of food so that mother and baby could grab them. Children understood what was going on within minutes. It was such a demonstrative pedagogical situation! Of course, I took advantage of the moment and asked the kids what they thought about it. Children were so impressed with the greedy monkey that they discussed the situation for several days. We came to the conclusion that sharing with the family is important, and that we, their parents, do so. For example, we do not eat the whole cake alone — and children are very happy about it.” – Julia, 37

Method 5 Develop empathy in children

Empathy plays a significant role in the development of children’s respect for parents. What’s it? It is the ability to empathize with others and understand what they can feel. Some believe that only girls should be caring and attentive, but, of course, compassion, as well as kindness and the desire to care for loved ones are universal qualities, and they need to be developed in all children. Especially if we want to be respected not only by our daughters but also by our sons.

Developed empathy helps to understand what outcome specific actions will lead to. The kitten can be hurt. Mom’s going to worry if I’m late and don’t warn her. My brother gets upset and angry if I take his things without permission.

The ability to empathize in children is developed in several stages.

  1. Empathize with children, don’t devalue their emotions and don’t forbid them to feel. Sometimes children are forbidden from feeling certain emotions from childhood. Don’t cry, it doesn’t hurt that much; you should be ashamed to cry because of such nonsense; first love is no big deal, there’ll be a hundred more. As a result, the child does not receive a positive experience of dealing with their feelings and begins to treat other people in a similar way. “So what if I came late and didn’t pick up the phone, why is it such a big deal? It’s not something you should worry about, Mom.”
  2. Teach your child to recognize his emotions. To do this, talk about how both of you feel. For instance:

“You’re sad about losing your toy, I’d be sad too.

“I was upset that you promised to wash dishes and didn’t, even though you had free time. Now I’m going to have to do the dishes myself, and I’m already tired.”

3. Discuss with your child what other people might feel. Voice other people’s emotions. For instance:

“It’s not strange that Masha cried in class. Her cat died and she was very upset.

“Our grandmother worries very much if we don’t call her. She’s calmer when she knows we’re doing well.”

To instill respect for parents through examples, practice using life situations as well as cartoons, movies, and books.

4. Help other people by yourself and together with your children. Don’t create distance from what’s going on around you. If you see that someone needs help and you can offer it, take your child and do it. At the same time, it is not necessary to accompany what is happening with moral teachings, few words are usually enough. “Let’s give our seat to the granny; it’s hard for her to stay standing.”

Method 6 Use positive reinforcement

Pay attention to the actions of your children that seem desirable to you and highlight them. It is better to use explicit structures, rather than a standard “well done.”  For instance:

“It’s great that you put the food in the fridge, thanks, I almost forgot about it.”

“I was very pleased that you stood up for that girl. It was brave of you.”

At the same time, it is better not to put too much emphasis on actions that seem unadvisable to you, because negative response may reinforce that behavior. In other words, the method of carrot and lack of carrot will be more effective than that of a carrot and a stick.

Behavioral psychology techniques, such as 7Spsy behavior modification technique, also work well. By changing mindset, child learns how to behave in different situations, and begins to feel respect for relatives. He learns to be sensitive and caring, instead of daring and snapping. The advantage of such a program is that parents do not need to wait until the child matures and understands everything on his own. We can influence the behavior of children and form the right habits now.

In addition to different ways to build trust-based and a warm relationship, there are several important “never” rules.

7 important “never …”

respect for parents by children

Of course, “never say never,” but to cultivate respect for the elders, it is better to adhere to these basics, if possible.

  1. Never lie to the child. This includes both little lies (I did not eat your candy, and the candy wrappers were planted by evil-wishers), and major lies (if you lie, you’ll be hit with thunder). Most likely, the child will fact-check the information he/she received from you or compare it with information from other sources and will understand that he/she was deceived. Do you think you can trust and respect someone who is constantly deceiving you?
  2. Never ask rhetoric questions. Sometimes parents ask questions not because they want to hear the answer, but to give the child a lesson. In these cases, the question itself sounds like a reproach. “Why did you scattered the flour in the kitchen? Who asked you to touch it? What have I done to deserve this?” Of course, there will be no answer to such questions. The child does not know the answers. For example, he just wanted to make a pie or do an experiment. So if you want to know the reason, ask about the cause, and do not scold the child using rhetoric questions.
  3. Never manipulate child’s feelings. For most children situations where parents threaten to deprive them of their love are very painful. “I’m not going to love a bad child. I’ll leave you, I’ll take you to the orphanage. Go to your room and do not come out until you’re ready to behave” — all these phrases can improve child’s behavior for a while because of the fear of being abandoned. But such improvement is unlikely to be a long-lasting one, and in the long run, it will help to raise an indifferent child, who will be emotionally distant in order to avoid pain and disappointment.
  4. Never change your expectations without reason. It is good when the expectations of parents are simple and clear. If adults constantly change their demands, it makes children feel insecure and unstable. For example, today parents demand the child to read more and tomorrow they are indignant that he’s spending all of his time reading instead of with friends. Today parents want their child to remain silent and not to argue, and tomorrow to finally stand up for himself and fight back.
  5. Never humiliate a child or ridicule his/her behavior. First of all, that is how you teach your child to ridicule and humiliate others (and you as well). Secondly, you undermine their confidence in you and make the relationship between you painful and unpleasant for the child. It is not uncommon for adult children to stop communicating with their parents because the latter are constantly mocking and bullying them.
  6. Never expect from a child more than he can give.  Your expectations should be in line with the age and level of development of the child. For example, until a certain age children being selfish is normal. Even younger schoolchildren not always can put themselves in the shoes of others or assess the consequences of their actions. Also, if parents have not previously paid attention to teaching the child to respect their elders, but started today, it’s useless to expect for the child to instantly change his behavior. Such changes won’t be any easier for him than they would have been for you.
  7. Never demand perfect behavior and no mistakes. All people make mistakes, you can’t always be perfect. Often parents forget about it and make a tragedy out of the slightest mistake, demanding impeccable behavior not only from their children but also from themselves. However, this is unrealistic. There will always be mistakes; there will always be those who don’t like us. We can’t be attentive and prudent all the time. Allow yourself and your children the room for mistakes — it will make your life more enjoyable and easier.

If it is difficult for you to change your behavior and the behavior of the child at the same time, use the patented method of behavioral therapy — 7Spsy behavior modification technique. The method is based on the theories of famous psychologists and physiologists, such as  I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky.

We will teach you how to create harmonious relationships

Make for consultation

This technique will help your child to change his behavior even when the rest of your family is unwilling or unable to change. The child will take classes on his own, in a home setting, and anonymously. At the same time, he would always be able to count on the support of our psychologists: online chats, phone, email, Skype — the child can choose the way to communicate. Thanks to the daily format of work, in 2-6 weeks the student will treat the family with more respect, start to be proactive and offer help around the house, will show more care and attention to you and younger brothers and sisters. You will only have to adjust to the changes to continue to jointly create an atmosphere of respect in the family.

Remember, children grow up in your image, so nurturing love and respect for the family is a joint task. The sooner you start, the better are your chances of success.


  1. «Empatiya i ee razvitie u detej»,  Yuliya Guseva, psiholog, kandidat psihologicheskih nauk (https://vk.com/@psyhlp-empatiya-i-ee-razvitie-u-detei).
  2.  Ispolzovany materialy knigi Yulii Gusevoj «Neponyatnyj mir detstva».