Teach children the art of showing respect

Published 5:09 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015

QUESTION: I do not want my children to grow up being demanding.  How do I teach respectful asking?

ANSWER: Some children try to get what they want by whining, begging, demanding, blaming, complaining, grabbing or assuming. Children, and adults, have to understand, recognize and respect boundaries before they will be able to learn the skill of respectful requests.

We all have personal space and things that are especially important to us that we may or may not be willing to share with someone else. As an adult, what would you say if someone asked you, “May I use your car?” When other children are coming to the house to play, it makes sense to talk with your child about where other children are going to play (in a child’s bedroom, for instance, or only in a different designated play area inside or outside the house) and what toys your child is willing to share.

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Things that a child does not want to share need to be put out of sight and made unavailable before other children arrive.

A request is like an invitation.  It can lead to more than one response: “yes” or “no” or “not now; wait until later.”  The second important focus in request making is paying close attention to the tone of voice adults and children use in making requests. Asking “Would you let me….?” or “May I please have….?”  in a pleasant, calm tone of voice usually needs to be practiced.  Use the phrase “Do you have a request?” whenever you hear whining or complaining and keep your own tone of voice pleasant.

Having to work at this ourselves helps us understand why are children sound demanding.

When parents make a request of their child, it is not the same as giving a direction. A common mistake is for a parent to ask, “Do you want to get your shoes on?” when it is time to leave the house.  The child hears that as a request and may say, “No.”  A direction is stated with more certainty: “It’s time to go.  Here are your shoes to put on.”

If you would like to talk about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org and Taking “No” for an Answer and Other Skills Children Need (L. Simons) at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin)