Today we see many children expressing a bad attitude when they talk to peers or adults. Children can be seen arguing with adults, often using bad language. Unfortunately, movies, TV programs and video games promote this kind of disrespectful behavior. This fact sheet will discuss why and how you should teach the children in your care to be respectful.


Learning to respect peers, authority, parents, caregivers and themselves is a necessary skill for children to learn in order to be successful. When a child learns to respect you, they listen and follow direction because they know you are looking out for their best interest.

We need to teach children respect so they can learn:

• responsibility to respect and take care of objects that belong to others.

• responsibility to care for their own belongings and appreciate what is given to them.

• the skills to get along with their peers. Being respectful means, they learn that they are not always first or that they cannot have everything thing they want especially if it belongs to another.

• that there are boundaries and rules that they must live by. They learn to take responsibility for their actions and that there are consequences for their behaviors.


It is your job as one of the primary caregivers to teach the children in your care respect. When you see a child exhibiting disrespectful behavior step in immediately and address what you see happening.

For example: If the child is talking in a disrespectful way, stop the child and say, “We don’t talk like that to other people.” Then model the right way to speak to others.

It is important to explain to the child the consequences for not being respectful. Expecting the children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you are very important to showing respect to others.

For example: A child is building with blocks. The child says, “Give me another block now.” You tell the child they must say ‘please’. If the child refuses, then they understand the consequence is they do not get another block.

Admittedly it is often easier to just give the child the block especially if you know refusing to give them the blocks will trigger a temper tantrum, but it is important that you always remain consistent in your expectations for their behavior.

Along with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, teach the children to say, ‘excuse me’ when they are interrupting you or anyone else. This is often not as easy as it sounds especially when you have an excited child who is demanding your attention immediately and you are trying to make the child stop and say, ‘excuse me’. Pick a time soon after an incident and sit down with the child and talk about what they should have done. Allow them to come up with the solution by talking about ‘good manners’. Demonstrate to the child how they could have gotten your attention in a more respectful way.

Another very important phrase to teach the children is “I’m sorry.” Teaching a child respect through good manners demonstrates how their actions may be affecting others.

Always recognize when the child has used good manners and praise them for it. Mealtimes are a good time to talk about manners with the children. Remember children imitate what they see and hear so it is so important that you model good manners and respect for others when teaching your children.

It is necessary that you show respect for the child as well. When you show respect for your child’s feelings and their belongings, you are allowing them to experience and understand how it feels to be respected.


It is never too late to start teaching a child respect. Occasionally a new child may enter your childcare program who uses very bad language and has not learn simple manners. Talk with the child and set out clear expectations and consequences. Be patient and make sure that you model how you want the child to act.

For example: If you are in the habit of saying, “Time to pick up the toys” make it a goal to always say, “please pick up your toys.” How you treat the children and the respect you show them will directly help them to learn what is expected.

To help you reinforce the respectful behaviors you are introducing to the children, you may want to make a chart to post on the wall.

For example: a GOOD MANNER’S CHART -- List the good manners you want the children to learn and each time a child uses good manners they can earn a star or a check mark next to the good manners they displayed. After a set number they get a reward such as being able to pick out the book you will read to the children.

PATIENCE is going to be necessary when teaching children respect. Very young children are very “me” oriented. They feel the world revolves around them and their needs. Your goal as a provider is to show them that even though their needs and feelings are very important, they need to learn how to socialize and interact with others. Teaching young children takes patience and consistency. Teaching children respect is a vital skill that will help them be successful as they grow older.

A helpful resource to teach children respect is: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/teaching-kids-respect/