How to Teach a Child Respect

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. (Sorry I had to, please keep reading!)

It would be good for us to have a good working definition of respect before we get started. The dictionary defines respect as “due regard to the feelings, rights, wishes, or traditions of others. In our current day and age, this can get tricky because “feelings” and “rights” can be relative to culture, background, and opinions.

As believers, we need to always get back to the Bible to inform and determine how we view the world. So, God’s word tells us in Philippians 2 (NIV) to “in humility, value others better than ourselves” and to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Since Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself for others even when they did not respect Him, we can deduce that respect has nothing to do with how others treat us. It has everything to do with us having Christ’s attitude which treats others with love, patience, and preference regardless of how they respect us.

Respect image

How to Teach Our Children Respect

Teaching our children respect is at the foundation of the Christian life. All people are made in the image of God. He loves them and call His people to love all people with the same love.

We teach our children to respect, honor, and obey us as their earthly parents because the Bible instructs it. But, ultimately, we are teaching them to obey God as their heavenly Father.

Respect for Parents

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV

We as their parents are physically present. They can see us, hear our voice, and we can give immediate consequences to their actions. This is so important because God is abstract to them until they experience salvation for themselves. We represent their accountability and authority. It is crucial that we do this well so that our children understand how incredibly important it is to obey and honor God’s commands.

Billy Graham once said, “A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.” And, Charles Spurgeon noted, “If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up.”

Creating an environment where rules are clearly laid out, consequences for disobedience are enforced, and where Biblical teaching is at the center, ensures that we are teaching our children to respect us and the scriptures. God’s word should always be the basis for correcting behavior in our children.

Respect for God

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!

Hebrews 12:9 NIV

We have already established that God’s word tells us to respect our parents. This scripture in Hebrews reminds us that if we are to respect our earthly parents, then how much more should we respect our Father in heaven?

Words in the scripture that explain our position to God are reverence, awe, honor, and submission: “…thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…” (Hebrews 12:28 ESV)

““Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 ESV)

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Our job as parents is to live a life that puts God in His proper place so that our children will know how to as well. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33 ESV) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 ESV) When we live this out, our children see that a life that puts God and His will first is a life of righteousness that respects our Lord.

Practically, we do this by having our own daily, alone time with God that overflows through our day. Next, we have an intentional family time where we open and teach God’s word. Finally, we create a culture of thanksgiving and prayer where we acknowledge all good things are from God and that we are dependent on Him to help us in difficulties and temptations.

Respect for Authority

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 13:1-2 NIV

Teaching our children to respect authority is a command in scriptures. It also teaches them to respect the sovereignty of God since we are told that all “have been established by God” and when we rebel against them, we are rebelling against God.

This is as simple as teaching them to respect teachers, civil leaders, and the laws of the land. Of course, we never expect them to submit to anything that would harm them or goes against God’s law. Here is a good resource to consider: How to Teach Kids Godly Disobedience

Practical Ways to Teach Respect

  • Model respect to our children. We have to do all things from a place of love and gentleness as the Bible commands, from speaking to our children to punishing them.
  • Model respect to others. Children imitate so we have to show them that we will speak, act, and react with a gentle and quiet spirit that respects others made in God’s image.
  • Praise and honor respect. When your children show you or others respect, mention it, make an announcement at the family table, or however you can be sure they know you are proud.
  • Encourage play that shows respect. I think it’s really underestimated how much children learn through play. If you are playing family, super heroes, or whatever, give role playing scenarios where they can choose to respect others.
  • Do not let disrespectful behavior slide. There must be consequences for disrespect whether it’s through speech or action and whether it’s at home or elsewhere.
  • Teach them what the Bible says. Teach them scriptures on how God tells us to relate to others including those specifically on respect. (Below.)
Proverbs 13:13 NIV

Bible Verses on Respect

  • Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:3 NIV
  • Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32 NIV
  • Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded. Proverbs 13:13 NIV
  • Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:13 NIV
  • Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17 NIV
  • But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV

3 thoughts on “How to Teach a Child Respect

  1. staceypardoe

    I just finished a book called Mother and Son, and it’s all about the importance of respecting our kids! I love your insights on how to live this out!!!!

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