Be Respectful of Your Family

Being respectful towards your family begins with being polite. It also means learning how to disagree and listen to each other even when upset. It can also mean just being there for one another and showing you care.


Being Polite

  1. Say "please" and "thank you." You don't like it when someone demands you do something without asking nicely. In a family situation, it's easy to forget that, though and leave off the niceties. Try to always remember to say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" when appropriate, even to family members.[1]
  2. Watch your tone. This step goes hand in hand with saying please and thank you. That is, nobody likes to be ordered around.[2] It's important to pay attention to the tone you're using when talking to family members.
    • For instance, instead of demanding in a rude tone, "Get me some juice!" you could say, "Would you mind getting me some juice, please?"
  3. Be responsible for your own mess. One way to be respectful and polite is to clean up after yourself. If you leave a mess for someone else to clean, that shows you don't respect his or her time. Put your toys and items away, and put away dirty clothes. Clean up after yourself in the bathroom, and do your share of chores in the house.[3]

Learning How to Disagree

  1. Talk about your feelings instead of pointing blame. That is, use "I" when you get in a disagreement instead of "you." If you're upset that your sister always hogs the bathroom, talk about how it makes you feel instead of pushing blame.[4]
    • For instance, you could say, "I feel disrespected when I don't get enough time in the bathroom because then I don't have enough time to get ready. I feel unprepared for the day."[4]
    • Using "I" helps soften the tone. It helps the other person understand why you're upset without pointing fingers, which can make everyone get defensive.
  2. Take a deep breath. Everyone gets a little heated when he or she gets upset. The trouble is, that can make you not think as clearly and say things you may regret later. If you feel your emotions taking over, ask to take a moment to calm down. Try focusing on breathing in and out for a few minutes or counting numbers until you feel yourself calm down.[4]
  3. Stay on topic. That is, don't throw stuff at the other person from past arguments. Don't remind them of the last time they said something wrong or did something wrong. It only heightens emotions and doesn't help the argument at hand.[5]
  4. Listen to what the other person has to say. In an argument, you tend to just want to make your point of view known; obviously, you think you are correct. However, you should take the time to really listen to what the other person has to say. Even if you decide to keep your point of view, you show respect to the other person by giving his or her view credibility and time.[4]
    • Truly listening means actually considering what the person has to say. Don't just sit there thinking up arguments against it.[4]
  5. Don't yell. Yelling can scare children, and it teaches them to yell, too, instead of talking about what's bothering them. Similarly, when you yell at an adult, it creates some amount of fear, which shuts them down, meaning they won't be able to actually listen to what you have to say.[6]
  6. Be willing to change your mind. Whether you're the parent, spouse, child, or sibling, sometimes the other person will have a point. That means that you need to be willing to change your mind if you realize you are wrong.[7]
    • This step also includes being willing to admit you've made a mistake. Sometimes you make a mistake, and you need to apologize. For instance, you could say, "I realize now that I was wrong. I truly apologize for the mistake I made."[8]

Showing You Care

  1. Be present when talking. Truly listen to what the other person is saying. One way to physically show that you are listening is to stop doing anything else you are doing. Look the person in the eye. Let the person talk, and don't interrupt until he or she is done.[9]
  2. Spend time with each other. One way to show you value another person is to give them the gift of your time. Watch a movie together, or cook dinner together. Go out for a special outing. It doesn't really matter what you do as long as you are taking the time to enjoy each others' company.[10]
  3. Support your family members' interests. Everyone needs some kind of hobby or outlet, and it's often different for each member of a family. Ask questions about what's going on with your family members' hobbies on a regular basis, and show up for important events if you can, such as going to dance recitals or baseball games.
  4. Offer comfort when someone is sad. If you notice another family member is upset, try to offer them comfort. One thing you can do is just listen to what's bothering them and try to help where you can.

Being Respectful to Your Kids

  1. Learn your family members' love languages. "Love language" is the term that Gary Chapman uses to describe the way that people feel love. That is, different people require different types of actions to feel love from another person. You can use his website,, to take quizzes and determine the love language for each of your family members.[11]
    • Knowing each others' love languages will help you express love towards one another.
    • For instance, one love language is words of affirmation, where a person needs verbal encouragement to feel loved. Another is acts of service, where a person feels loved if another person does something for her.[11]
    • The third love language is receiving gifts; small presents make this type of person feel loved. The fourth is quality time, where spending time together makes a person feel loved. The final one is physical touch; love is expressed through hugs, kisses, and affectionate touches.[11]
  2. Offer encouragement to kids. Kids are still learning how to be polite and ask things in a respectful manner. Therefore, when your child does ask politely, make sure to offer encouragement of that behavior.[2]
    • Try to be specific about your praise. For instance, when your child asks politely if she can be excused instead of jumping up from the table, you can say, "Thank you for asking so nicely and using your manners."
    • Also, remember to offer encouragement for the hard work they put in, not just the finished product. For instance, no matter whether your kid wins or loses a tennis match, you can say that you are proud of her for putting in the hard work.[12]
  3. Respect privacy. Your child will start to set her own boundaries as far as privacy goes. Because it's her way of asserting independence, you should try to respect that as often as possible with a few caveats. For instance, if your child is still fairly young, you may need to be in the bathroom while she bathes; however, you can work on something else so she doesn't feel like you're focusing on her.[13]
    • Remind your child that occasionally, you or her doctor may need to examine her body to make sure she's still healthy.[4]
    • Many children will start wanting privacy in elementary school. However, if your child seems to be very embarrassed about her body, you might want to make sure everything is fine with her, as that can be a sign of sexual abuse.[4]
  4. Set boundaries for your child. Boundaries are good for kids because they help them know their limits. Your kids may not see it as a sign of respect initially, but boundaries will help them grow into positive, contributing adults.[14]
    • Plan ahead, and tell your child the boundary in no uncertain terms. That is, you need to already know what rule you are going to enforce before you enforce it, and your kid needs to know she doesn't have any wiggle room. For instance, use a statement instead of a question: say "Please clean up your room before you go outside," not "Can you please clean up your room before you go outside?" That doesn't mean that you have to be use a harsh tone; in fact, a neutral is better because it won't scare your kids.[14]
    • Don't be afraid to use humor to encourage cooperativeness. Kids love silly voices and jokes, so try making the fork dance when you want her to eat or making her toothbrush talk to her.[14]
  5. Learn and teach coping strategies. When you don't get your way, you need to learn to deal with that without yelling. For instance, you can use techniques to calm down, such as listening to a meditation CD. Alternatively, you can use a creative way to express yourself, such as drawing, coloring, or painting.[15]
    • For your kids, you can also help them talk about their feelings. One way to do that is to use visuals, such as a printout of different emotion faces. Have the child point to what they're feeling and then have them talk about how that relates to the situation. You could ask a question such as, "What are you feeling right now? Can you point to the face that shows what you're feeling? What made you feel that way?"[6]

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Sources and Citations

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