How to Teach Teens to Have Respect for Others

Teaching a teenager respect gives her a lot to think about.

Respecting others is a big part of growing up. When you’re teaching teenagers to respect others, however, it is not always as easy as simply saying, “Respect other people.” It’s easier to teach someone facts like math or science than it is to teach them principles to live by. Teaching someone a life lesson is less about textbooks and chalkboards and more about imparting wisdom that comes from personal experiences. Teaching a teenager respect takes perseverance, and its difficulty will vary from teen to teen.

Teach teens phrases that are both easy to remember and simple reminders of how they should act toward others. Phrases like “Treat others how I’d like to be treated” should be helpful. Teach them to say these phrases to themselves regularly, almost like they would a mantra. Have them start each day with this positive reminder to respect others.

Lead by example. For kids and teens, it’s easier to fully embrace an idea if they see someone else utilizing that idea positively. If you respect the people around you and teens see that, it’ll inspire them. It gives them actual examples of a respectful give-and-take that happens between people.

Correct the teens if they're out of line or if they forget the lessons you are trying to teach them. If you allow them to lapse, they’ll quickly revert back to their behavior before you were teaching them respect. Stay on top of them and remind them frequently of the importance of being respectful toward others. This will help you imprint these ideas in their brains, and it’ll help your lessons stick.

Acknowledge and compliment teens when you notice them being respectful and adhering to what you’re teaching them. Acknowledging good behavior is just as important as correcting bad behavior. This kind of encouragement will strengthen their resolve and get them more excited about continuing to give respect to those around them.

Avoid being overly pushy when you’re trying to teach lessons to teens. Being overly aggressive will often only lead to resentment and might have the opposite effect that you intended.

Lee Lyons was first published in 2002 in "The Eagle News" located in Paragould, Ark. He has also written and done photography for The Cowley Press. He has written and produced material for Pollack Broadcasting and KACY 102.5. He has written and directed both short films and plays. In 2009 Lee received an associate degree in English from Cowley County Community College.