Teaching Respect: Activities for Kids At Home

I was mowing the lawn. The perfect moment of the perfect suburban father came as I turned the lawnmower off. My son came out of the house (he was about 10 at the time). My father was visiting from Florida. And my new neighbor had come across the street to talk to us.


I don’t remember what he said, but my son said something out of the blue to me that was both loud and appallingly disrespectful.

My proud papa moment.  Not.  🙂

Teaching Respect:  Activities for Kids At Home

It can be overwhelming to think about how to teach respect.  After all, we’re just trying to get through our weeks as parents!

Fortunately, Jed E. Baker, author of Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome, designed a series of activities to make a respectful attitude easy to teach and easy to understand.

[Tweet “Here are some activities to teach your child how to have a respectful attitude”].

A respectful attitude builds character and will make life better for your child and for you!

Put These Do’s and Don’ts on a Sheet for Your Kid

Dos Don’ts
Respect personal distance: Keep an arm’s length away Do not touch anybody.  Do not getcloser than an arm’s length away.
Use “request” words:”May I….?””Can I…?””Would you mind …?””Would it be okay if …?” Do not use “demand” words.”Do this now!””I will not…””You should…”
Use a “request” tone of voice Do not use a “demand” tone of voice.
Compromise or accommodateothers. Do not demand to have it allyour way.
As permission before touchinganything that is not yours. Do not touch others’ belongingswithout permission.
When upset, ask to talk aboutyour feelings. Do not act out your feelings byusing a disrespectful tone orwords.

The following activities for kids at home expand on each teaching point from the table above.

A caveat:

If your child struggles with chronic anger and depression above and beyond what seems to be normal for a kid of his age, he’ll need help beyond this skill.  Seek out a competent mental health professional for an evaluation to determine all the factors that contribute to the disrespect.

However, many kids, including Aspergers children, have occasional disrespectful attitudes and may not fully understand how these attitudes impact others.  These activities teach children about  Having a Respectful Attitude.

Space Invader

Enlist other family members (siblings, father, mother) to play parts in this role play.

Review appropriate distances when talking with others, standing in line, or walking through the hallways.

Stay about one arm’s length away, unless invited to come closer.

Standing in line is more flexible.  Look at how close or far each person in line is, and adjust your distance accordingly.

Create a movie of your child acting out different distances.  Critique it positively with other family members.  Then create a second movie of your child acting out appropriate physical distances in each situation.

Requesting versus Demanding

Role-play the difference between requesting and demanding something like a snack, a chance to go somewhere like the playground, to play a special game, or to stop working.

Role play using the iPhone or smartphone recorder, modeling a respectful tone first, then a disrespectful tone.  Replay the smartphone video for your child  and view it together.  Keep only the respectful clips.

Compromising versus Demanding

Talk about the differences between compromising and demanding.  Use different games to practice the difference.

Again, using a iPhone or Smartphone video recording function, it can be helpful to record your child, or your child’s sibling, role playing compromising about what game to play, versus demanding that everyone play his game.

P.S. You may want to consider the Superflex series of kids’ books to teach your kids about the benefits of flexible thinking.  You can either purchase them at the Social Thinking website, or via Amazon.

Role Play How to Deal with Upset and Anger

Pretend someone is angry because they did not want to come to group, school, or because earlier in the day someone teased them.  Role-play talking (talking about feelings) versus acting out (having a tantrum, yelling, hitting)  how you feel.  Be sure to point out how it is not fair to take your anger out on someone who did not cause it.

Jed E. Baker, Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome

Feedback Review – Correct and Redirect

Correct disrespectful actions and redirect to the appropriate behavior (e.g., watch the tone, make a request rather than demand, keep your distance, etc.)

Helpful Hint:

a.  Give verbal praise for respectful behavior.

b.  Give tokens, pennies, or points for periods in which your child demonstrated a respectful attitude.  When s/he gets an agreed-upon number of tokens (e.g., five tokens), give a special reward (e.g., snack, stickers, or privileges to play a special game).

c.  Have your child ask herself these questions for Practice during the week:

  1. Who will I try this with?
  2. When?
  3. What happened?
  4. How did I do?

photo credit: quadrapop via photopin cc

What other activities for kids at home have you used to teach your child?  Please share below!

 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.

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