Teaching Kids to Respect Others

Attitudes are important to God. He expects us to be “cheerful givers” and to “obey your parents.” The second part of that requirement, “obey your parents” can be tougher than you think. Parental defiance is a natural part of our human makeup but that level of defiance rises when parents disrespect themselves by participating in random sex, drug use and a general disregard for other people. In these cases, children have no reason to respect their mother or father, yet God expects it. A child will love even the worst parent but respect is earned. As teachers, how do we teach kids to have the right attitude, like young David did towards a rejected Saul?

Set An Example

Teaching kids to respect others begins by setting a good example to follow. Perhaps it’s my southern heritage but I was raised to say, “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir.” These special phrases demonstrated respect, even if my behavior at that moment was less than respectful. Begin by using these phrases yourself when dealing with older people or with people in authority. Make showing respect a part of your spiritual makeup, burn it into your DNA so you can teach it easily, naturally to your children. (Like so many lessons I teach my kids, they always start with me.)

Teach About Respect

Begin providing lessons to your students that talk about the need for respecting others. Besides the example of David and Saul, offer regular lessons from Proverbs, which extensively teaches from a parent to child viewpoint. I like to use lessons based on Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 5 and Matthew 15 too.

Show Respect to Them

Showing children respect helps them understand how important respect is. Nobody likes to be disrespected or ignored. Teach your kids how to respect others by being polite to them, listening to them, treating them as if they are important and worthy of your time. Also, when you have the opportunity to talk with parents, show them respect too as if they were the greatest of parents. Remember, your commission isn’t just to reach out to kids but their families too. (Perhaps offering respect when it’s not earned while inspire a parent to become better.)

Offer Correction When Needed

Lastly, teaching kids this valuable lesson involves correction. The bible says that God corrects those He loves. As a teacher, it’s not your job to spank or punish a disrespectful attitude but when it occurs during your class time you should address it. Don’t allow kids to disrespect one another by talking over each other or pushing their way to the front of the line or ignoring the rules. Post the rules and remind kids every time you meet that the rules poster helps everyone have a happy classroom experience. Rules are good because they remind us that respecting others pleases God.

When you’ve done these four things you’ll have established a solid understanding of respect. Take that opportunity to begin teaching kids to respect themselves too. That’s another tough subject!

We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Leave your best ideas for teaching children to respect other people in the comment section below.


  1. says

    I just found this blog post while preparing for this year’s classes. Leah you have similar rules for my own, though I see warnings are a little complex, so I skip to your 2nd consequence.
    Hope to use Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 5 and Matthew 15 as recommended early this year.

  2. Leah says

    Tiffany, I have a rules chart in my Children’s Church classroom. The rules are:
    1) Follow directions.
    2) Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat.
    3) Keep hands, feet, and other objects to yourselves.
    4) Respect your classmates and your teacher.

    At the beginning of each class, we go over the rules as well as the consequence if they break a rule. Once we’ve gone over them, I ask if everyone understands (and they do).

    By the way, the consequences I have set up are:
    The first time one breaks a rule, he/she gets a warning; the second time, he/she has to sit out of the game, craft, or snack time (my choice); the third time, he/she has to go back to the sanctuary. I stick to the rules, especially during the lesson. Then, we’re more laid back during the craft/game/snack time.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Tiffany says

    Sandy could you post the rules that you have on your rules chart?
    I’m trying to develop some rules for a 3rd grade sunday school group. Thanks!

  4. Sandy says

    Great ideas…….. I’m planning on adding to the top of our rules chart:
    Respecting Others please God. :)
    That shows that the rules are important to God and eveyone around us.
    Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas on this web site.

  5. seun oloka says

    A very nice write up not just for kids but also for adults. Thank you very much. God bless you

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