Summer: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It's inevitable. No matter how polite and respectful you teach your kids to be, they are going to encounter other children being disrespectful -- whether on TV, at school or even at the movie theaters. And they're going to wonder why other kids can talk that way to their parents, their siblings or their friends and they can't. So they will probably try it out on you. I tend to find that the longer the school year goes on, the more my kids like to try out being disrespectful. They are around kids all day long that provoke the teacher or talk disrespectfully to other children, and that behavior inevitably rubs off on my kids.

Teaching our kids to respect others, especially those in authority is important. If our kids can't respect us or their teachers, then they won't find any reason to respect God's authority. God wants us to teach our children respect because it matters in their relationship with Him.

I love summer because it gives me an opportunity to remind my children that respect is important. My kids are home with me everyday in the summer, and I can teach and remind my kids that respect matters. It shows love for others, and it creates better relationships.

1 Peter 2:17 shows us that God thinks respect is important. It says: "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor." We want our kids to show proper respect to everyone -- their parents, their peers, their teachers and anyone else they come across. Spend your summer reminding your kids why respect is important.

  • Determine what areas of respect your kids are struggling with most. It may be they struggle to respect those in authority or they may have trouble respecting their friends or siblings. Put your focus on the thing they struggle with most.
  • Explain to your kids that God wants us to be respectful of others. God created every person that we encounter, and He loves them. That makes them worthy of basic respect. Talk about how having respect for others means that we don't talk mean to each other or take things without asking.
  • Have a "respect race" over the summer. On a piece of posterboard, draw a race track or a graph. Put each child's name on a bar of the graph or a piece for the race track. Every time you catch them being respectful, color in part of the graph or move their piece on the race track. The first person to the finish line or to fill in their bar on the graph gets a reward like choosing a family activity or an extra helping of dessert. Have a larger reward for the end of the summer if every child makes it around the track so many times or fills their bar on the graph a certain number of times.
  • Set the rules for respect in your home and post them somewhere. Let your kids help set the rules. Talk about the actions that show respect. Make sure they cover things like speech, actions toward others and how to treat others' things. Hold every child that comes into your home to these same rules. Make sure that you are abiding by the rules as well.
  • Institute a fine of some sort for disrespectful speech. Controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things for anyone to learn. Most adults still struggle with this. Put a jar out on the counter. Every time anyone in your family gets caught using disrespectful speech (and this includes tone of voice), charge them a set fine. At the end of the summer, decide as a family where you want to donate the money that has accumulated in the respect jar.

Spending your summer focused on fostering an environment of respect will help remind your kids of the need to be respectful when they leave your house, too. While you'll need to reinforce these lessons throughout the school year, setting a firm foundation over the summer makes those school-year lessons easier to handle.