It’s an issue that comes up a lot. 

My child is disrespectful,

how to I MAKE my child respect their elders?

I wonder, what is most important, that a child respect their elders, OR that they are allowed to be on the learning journey of what it means to give and receive respect.



Children are born with respect for their parents.


Respect is learned through receiving respect. 


When we DEMAND respect from our child, we risk losing connection. 

To gain respect from our children we must develop a strong and positive relationship.  One that has healthy and consistent boundaries, includes listening not just telling. 

One where were are not just bigger and stronger, but wiser and kinder too. 

(Raising a Secure Child – Hoffman, Cooper and Powell).

From an instinct perspective, (where our young children operate from), demands are a threat, they create a feeling of wrong doing.


In little kids, who don’t recognise the difference between DOING wrong and BEING wrong.
All they receive is
I am a mistake. 
I am not worthy. 
I don’t belong.

Even though we don’t mean that, their immature instinct driven brain doesn’t process for intentions.


We don’t do this deliberately to our child.  Chances are, it’s the model we were raised with. 

“Respect your elders, do as your told, wait to be served.”

We, as children, were often taught that our feelings were not important, through how we were treated.  That we had to follow the wishes and instructions of adults regardless of what we felt or thought.

While it can be tough to process, what that did was put kids at risk.  It worked on the assumption that all adults have great intentions.  And for many of us adults, the models we had of adults is “I am the boss of you”.

The problem is that kids don’t understand intentions.  If they have been conditioned to follow instructions, and not to ask questions, even if they want to.  At best they become people pleasers, at worst they become victims.

As uncomfortable as it might be, the opportunity is to lean into and develop understanding our child. 

In the beginning, kids have no common sense, logic or reasoning skills.  Their actions are never about or against us, they are always for themselves.  What that means is, that if our child is doing something we don’t like, the opportunity is to provide the healthy boundary.  That means, not accepting what you don’t like, without diminishing your child’s needs.



To meet a child’s needs we must give them what they want.


To meet a child’s emotional needs, we must validate their feelings, empathise with their experience and be curious about their problem

(especially if you don’t agree with or can’t meet their expressed desire).

(Raising Human Beings – Dr Ross Greene).

It’s also important to have age appropriate expectations.

In the beginning VEC is about building the muscles of this as the go to. 

Personally, it helped me to be in my child’s shoes and avoid taking their behaviour personally.

I knew I didn’t want to be “I am the boss” type of parent.  Which was how my mum had been from my perspective. (I now know that was just a reflection of her own inner turmoil, though it took me a long time to “adult” in the relationship – story for another time).

I wanted to model my dad, who had much more capacity to treat us as if we were learning, rather than mum who treated us like we were being disobedient when we didn’t meet her request.


Wiser and Kinder, not just bigger and stronger.  Knowing ourselves and the edges of our world, so that we can guide our child to discover the edges of theirs.


If you are in the trenches of parenting,

come join me in

the Conscious Wholehearted Parenting Tribe on Facebook,

where you can access tools, strategies and support, to assist you in raising children to become emotionally intelligent to meet the needs of Adulting in the 21st century.

Author – Leanne G Wakeling – Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor,

Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.