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Teaching Kids Respect in Relationships

You can help your child build self-respect as well as have respectful relationships with others.

Happy daughter and mum talking at a cafe

As parents we value respect and want our kids to respect us

Respect is a word that gets used a lot but it can be difficult to define.

Most people would say they know when they’re being treated respectfully but they might have trouble explaining what it is.

It’s also sometimes hard to know when we’re being disrespectful towards others especially when we feel upset and may have a hard time maintaining self-control.

Being respectful is something we learn through interactions with other people. Being respectful can come easily to some children but not others.

As a parent you play an important role helping your child build self-respect and the skills they need to respect others.

Respect in relationships exists in many forms

  • Self-respect
  • Respect for others
  • Respect for possessions
  • Respect for authority 
  • Respect for the law

How do you recognise respect in a relationship?

Respect is about showing that you value other people through your words and actions. You treat other people with care and you consider how your words or actions may affect them.

In respectful relationships, the following are put into action:

  • The right to be safe, valued and cared for
  • Being supported to make our own choices
  • Being accepted as a person, even if you’ve made a mistake
  • Encouraging others to grow, learn and succeed
  • Freedom to disagree without being put down, called names or hurt
  • Not dominating or controlling others
  • Listening and taking turns to be heard
  • Supporting others' needs and wellbeing
  • Trust, honesty and taking care with others' personal information
  • Not intimidating others or being aggressive

Disrespectful relationships can affect your child

Kids may experience a lack of respect in their relationships at home or at school.

When kids aren’t feeling safe, supported and cared for they may show this through their behaviour and emotions.

A child who is feeling distressed or unsafe may experience:

  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Nausea or headaches
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Low self-confidence or esteem
  • Changes in appetite (under or overeating)
  • Lack of trust in family and friends
  • Breakdown in friendships

How can you help your child learn about respectful relationships?

Teaching your child the skills to be respectful helps them to value their needs as well as other's needs.

Try active listening by taking a moment to repeat back what you hear them say eg. "so what I heard you say is…"

Learn to be assertive and ask for what you want in a calm yet firm way without being passive or aggressive

Understanding and empathy – ask yourself what your child’s world is like right now. What might they be going through?

Conflict resolution – try to negotiate on the little things but at the same time identify the big issues that are non-negotiable

Decision making skills – avoid imposing solutions and encourage your child to think of options and consequences first

Be honest - this will encourage trust and acceptance in the relationship and avoid misunderstandings and potential conflict

Anger management – teach kids to stop, think and then speak their minds in a calm way

Problem solving skills – help your child name the problem and express their feelings in words so you can discuss it and find a solution together

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This content was last reviewed 10/05/2018

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