In today's world, parents can easily lose sight of the fact that parenting is a relationship. Rather, we get caught up in disciplining and controlling our kids' behavior. While discipline certainly has its place, it tends to be a lot easier if you have a foundation of respect first...and that comes from having a relationship.
Here are some reasons why and how respect in parenting is a two-way street.
1. Remember Your Child Is a Person
It's easy to forget that your child is only human - a toddler who is overwhelmed, upset, and in a bad mood, for instance, is likely to be labeled "bad," whereas you probably wouldn't label a sad, overwhelmed, or upset adult the same way. Although your child is not necessarily a "little adult," he or she is a person, with human needs and struggles and feelings. They are also imperfect, just like we are! Just keeping these things in mind can shift your thinking to a more mutually-respectful mindset.
2. Do Unto Others...
Quite simply, treating your kids the way you want to be treated is a great springboard for discipline and relationship. Granted, sometimes you have to ask things of your kids that you really would rather not have someone do to you (ask you to do the dishes, for instance), but the overarching theme of treating them like you would want to be treated still applies - you can ask them to do the dishes in a respectful manner, for instance, and show your appreciation for their help.
3. Earn, Don't Demand Respect
You really can't force someone to respect you by demanding it. Your kids might go through the motions of respecting you, but they may just be acting out of fear. Respect - and experts agree - is best earned, and you earn it by giving it.
4. Watch Demeaning Language
A lot of damage has been done by using demeaning language with kids. Referring to them as "stupid" or asking "what is wrong with you?" when they do something wrong or make a mistake can damage their self-esteem and undermine their confidence. And it certainly isn't respectful! Watch what you say - make sure you use respectful and courteous language and you're more likely to receive that kind of language in return.
5. You're Still an Authority
Earning respect from your kids doesn't mean always being their buddy. You are an authority figure, and your kids need for you to be. But you can be authoritative and still be respectful - try to employ some of the above tips and apply them to your status as an authority figure.