Q: “I’ve been reading your column, and I like a lot of what you say. Most of the time I think I am a respectful parent, but not always. Sometimes I really don’t feel like being respectful. What can I do then?”
V.H., Briceland, CA

A: When you are feeling frustrated, disappointed, frightened, tired, hungry, it is more difficult to treat others with respect. If you don’t want to do or say things which you might regret later, have several plans of action to help prevent this. For example:

• If you have a centering practice, now is a great time to use it.

• Have a private place to go and be until you feel you can treat those around you with respect, a self-imposed “time-out.”

• Tell your children what you are feeling. Explain that you don’t want to do or say things to them that might make all of you feel bad, but that because of the way you are feeling you might. Ask them to keep away from you until you tell them that you are okay again.

• If your children are babies and too young to understand, arrange to have someone, a partner, relative, friend, neighbor, babysitter, child care buddy watch the children while you take care of yourself.

• Be sure to make time to have the experiences which make you feel good about yourself and your life.

• If your children are old enough, discuss this situation with them sometime when you are not in the middle of it. Get their suggestions and come to some agreements about what to do. Maybe they could give you a massage, fix dinner, play the piano, or go visit friends.

Sometimes your children are also feeling frustrated, disappointed, frightened, tired, or hungry at the same time you are. This certainly adds to the difficulty of keeping a respectful relationship.

If this happens frequently or regularly, it can make a great difference in your lives if you make and take time to plan for these circumstances. If your children are old enough, figure this out with them.

After you have tried out the agreed upon plan of action, check in with each other to make sure it is working well, and keeps working well for everyone. Be prepared to modify it, if necessary, until it is satisfactory.

When your children are very young, please arrange to have someone who can help you and/or them during these times. It can make all the difference for you and the children if you can get relief when you need it. It is relief for them, too, not having to suffer from their own hardships and yours also.

If you have already been disrespectful and you are feeling guilt or regret about it:

• Forgive yourself. Let the past be in the past and be determined to act and speak in the present in ways which please you and your children.

• Apologize. This is a positive step toward changing behavior patterns which you don’t like. It can help you speed up the process of change, the process of remembering the ways you really want to act.

• Ask your children what you can do to make amends for what you said or did, what might help them feel good again. You speed up your rate of change when you take more action in your chosen direction. This can help you remember even more than if you just apologize and certainly more than if you don’t even apologize.

Remember that every act of respect helps improve the emotional climate. It increases people’s feeling of safety, happiness, and peace. When a person feels good, this spreads to everyone else they contact, so practice respect as much as you can for the good of us all.

Author's Bio: 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Ryce, the Miracle Worker...of Education and Parenting, has used the Power of Respect for 39 years. She started a Montessori school in 1973, teaches how to be respectful to children/teensand why it's essential to make that your foundation.

Website: www.parentchildteacher.com
(listen to the free audio interviews and Q&As)

Email: kvryce@parentchildteacher.com