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Building respectful relationships

As a parent, you play an important role in helping your kids build self-respect and knowing how to be respectful to others.

Girl sitting on stairs and thinking about what respect means

As parents, we often value respect enormously! We ask for it and expect to receive it from our kids.

Respect is a word that often gets used but is difficult to define.

Most people would tell you they know when they are being treated respectfully. However they might have trouble knowing when their own communication is disrespectful.


What kinds of respect do you expect?

Respect exists in relationships at many levels.

Respect for others
Respect for possessions
Respect for authority
Respect for the law

How do you recognise respect in a relationship?

In respectful relationships, the following are put into action:

Rights to be safe, valued and cared for

Listening and taking turns to be heard

Being supported to make our own choices

Freedom to disagree without being put down, called names or hurt

Being accepted as a person even if you’ve made a mistake

Trust, honesty and taking care with others personal information

Sexual activity is legal and consent is sought

Not behaving in a way that is intimidating especially during conflict

Supporting others needs and wellbeing

Not dominating others

“As a Dad I’m aware that I need to step up and encourage my kids to learn about respectful relationships”

– Nash, father of 10 year old son and 13 year old daughter

How can I help my kids learn respect?

As a parent, think back over how you learned what respect and disrespect looks like. Take stock of how you and others in your family communicate, particularly when under stress.

Young people look to the adults around them for role modelling. For example, if an adult treats them with care and consideration, they'll learn to offer this to others. This modelling also helps them recognise when disrespect is occurring among their peers.

What creates respectful relationships?

Specific skills and behaviours can help!

Understanding and empathy – what’s your child’s world like right now?

Active listening – "so what I heard you say is…"

Anger management – stop, think, speak

Assertiveness – avoid being too passive or aggressive

Conflict resolution – identify non-negotiables early, then be open to compromise

Problem solving and decision making – avoid imposing solutions, help them think through the pros and cons

Parenting is sometimes hard but there’s always somebody you can talk to or something you can try

If you’re struggling with a parenting issue then call a Parentline service in your State or Territory.

This content was last reviewed 14/02/2018

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