Real Talk    

Real Talk



A professional's perspective

teens, moms of teens, raising teens, real talk

 

GET THE OTHER PERSPECTIVE. Get the answer from a mom of teens!

As you struggle trying to raise a respectful child, keep in mind that respect for oneself and others is the foundation on which a healthy and successful life is built. With all we do for our kids, and I’m no exception, it can leave them feeling entitled, rather than respectful.

There are a number of things you can do as a parent to help your kids to develop a more respectful way of interacting with people. The following are some ways to teach your child respect, especially with members of the opposite sex, an arena that becomes increasingly important when your child enters adolescence.

As a parent, you can play a vital role in teaching respect for people of differing beliefs, one child at a time. Working to raise a respectful kid will mean standing your ground and not backing down when you feel your child is being disrespectful, or saying disrespectful things. When both parents are tired from spending a full day at work, teachable moments can feel exhausting. 

Take a breath and remember you are a vital part in building the respectful society we all want to live in. 

It begins early

Parents whether meaning to or not, begin treating boys and girls differently from the time of infancy. Girls are encouraged to be more passive and thoughtful, whereas boys get away, and are even encouraged to be aggressive. The statement ‘boys will be boys’ highlights the society’s acceptance of aggressive or destructive behaviors in boys but not in girls. This bias even extends to the toys girls and boys are given—while boys are given construction equipment and cars, girls are given dolls and stuffed animals to play with. Even in pretend-play games, often little boys are encouraged to roughhouse while girls are prompted to play the roles of princesses waiting for their princes. Children observe these differences early, internalizing that there are socially acceptable ways for them to conform to traditional gender-specific roles.

It starts with us
We are the first model of respect (or the lack of it) that our children have.

Parents teach children more through their actions and behaviors than through their words. Children form ideas by observing important adults around them. The way parents speak to each other and the roles they play at home will significantly influences the attitudes and behaviors of children.  If a boy consistently observes his father treating his mother disrespectfully, he is likely to believe that such behavior is acceptable and will think that is applicable to all females. He will most likely treat girlfriends in adolescence similarly.

To change children’s perceptions we need to first look at our own attitudes and behavior and also that of other adults who regularly spend time with our children. It is important that the adults show equal respect towards roles of all individuals in the house.

Watch how you speak

If we often tell a little girl that she looks beautiful, she may begin to focus excessively on improving her looks and draw her sense of self-worth from her physical appearance. Especially around puberty, girls are sensitive towards both positive and negative reinforcements about their appearance. Additionally, if we discourage young boys from displaying their emotions by saying things like “boys don’t cry” it may adversely impact their emotional health. Consider whether you only give your children gender specific compliments or statements.

Monitor the media
Media reinforce gender stereotypes that are already prevalent in the society. Most popular fairy tales reinforce the perception that a ‘princess is always rescued by or waiting for her ‘knight in the shining armor’. Similarly, comic books, movies and video games tend to focus on men as always strong and courageous beings. We can’t completely prevent such content from influencing children; we can however help them process these messages the right way through discussion or play. Monitoring what our children read or watch can help them understand and not conform to rigid gender stereotypes.

Teach what you want to be
Open the avenues for exploration despite gender.  Realize that some aspects of this perspective may be outside of your own comfort zone and may not be what you have experienced; change the patterns from what you know to what you want to see.  Parents should refrain from placing gender-based expectations on children and instead encourage boys and girls to explore their interests and all possible career options.

Have standards and consequences

Your child should know which behaviors are and are not acceptable, both when they are with you and outside of the home. Hold them to that standard. When your child becomes disrespectful or misbehaves, address the behavior and use corrective action. Decide based on what you think will work for your child individually. They should know that whenever they behave or speak disrespectfully, it will be dealt with, and not ignored.

The consequences of respect become magnified when a child reaches adolescence with its emerging sexuality and dating. Teaching that respect is a two-way street will make the difficult adolescent years somewhat easier, and hopefully more angst free.

Teach empathy
Respect for people is a necessary component of every relationship, whether it is between siblings, a parent and child, or when adolescents begin more intimate relationships with the opposite sex. Talk about how it might feel in certain situations by role playing with your children.  Teach empathy by having conversations with your children about how certain behaviors make them feel, and then asking them to try to understand how this might make others feel.

Expect respect in your home between all family members. Correct adolescents when they are rude act or speak disrespectfully.  Kids will usually interact outside the home with others the way they interact inside the home with the family!



More Real Talk


  • Improve your teen's self-esteem with Invisalign

    Take care of your teen's smile and confidence

    Today, teens and even younger children feel a lot of pressure regarding their appearance. A smile is one of the first things you notice about a person. When a teen is self-conscious about their smile it can affect their social life, home life and their confidence. That's why the introduction of Invisalign has had such a positive effect. read more »
  • Earn college credit and get a taste of campus life

    Experience the excitement of college while still in high school

    Watch your teen become more independent as they experience what it will be like to live on a college campus away from mom and dad! read more »
  • Real Talk: Start the conversation about drugs and alcohol

    A mom's perspective

    A Westchester mother of three teenagers shares how she keeps the conversation going when it comes to drugs and alcohol. read more »
  • Real Talk: Start the conversation about drugs and alcohol

    A professional's perspective

    Talking to your teens about the tough stuff can be hard. Read a professional's opinion about how to talk to your teenagers about using drugs and alcohol. read more »
  • Growing up Gender Non-Conforming or Transgender

    Help your child develop their gender identity

    As a parent, your responsibility is to make sure you provide your children with the tools they need to grow into healthy, happy adults. Gender is a huge part of your child's identity. Help them express their true selves! read more »
  • Prom Season is Here!

    Help your teen find a creative ways to "prompose"

    Every prom season, teens get more and more creative with their "promposals." Is your teen excited for prom, but looking for a fun way to ask their date? Here's some fun ideas! read more »
  • Navigating the teen years with a son on the spectrum

    Social situations are different

    A teen on the spectrum seeks freedom. See how his family navigates the teen years with a child with autism. read more »
  • Real Talk

    A mom's perspective

    A mom shares her perspective on how she speaks to her teens about being sensitive and respectful to kids of the opposite sex read more »
  • Real Talk

    Discussing important issues with your teens

    We unflinchingly cover topics like bullying, racism, the opioid epidemic, negative body image and more to help our parents navigate through this stage with the advice of a noted psychologist and Hudson Valley Parents who have been there. read more »
  • "Mom, when should I go to the gynecologist?"

    Moms and doctors discuss a girl's first OB-GYN appointment

    Suddenly your little baby girl has grown into a teenager! And you know what that means...time for the gynecologist. Don't stress. Moms and doctors discuss how to handle this milestone. read more »