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All about respect

Respect is the glue that holds your relationships together. Learn ways to be respectful and know what to do when somebody isn’t respectful toward you.

Diverse variety of kids holding up signs that say RESPECT

Why is respect important?

Giving and receiving respect from others is important because it helps us to feel safe and to express ourselves.

Being respected by important people in our lives growing up teaches us how to be respectful toward others.

Respect means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them.

Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety, and wellbeing.

Respect doesn’t have to come naturally – it is something you learn.

What does respect look like?

Think about all the different situations in life where you have to get along with others – how do you know if there’s respect in your relationship?

You feel safe being around each other
You know it’s ok for both of you to express who you are
You don’t yell or talk over the top of each other
When you disagree you listen to each other and be patient
Neither of you is controlling the other person’s choices
You both talk openly about your needs and wants
You both allow the other person space if they need it
You can both admit when you’ve made a mistake

"When I was at school, I felt like I didn't really fit in... I felt like I was judged for it which made me feel a little bit embarrassed."

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Signs of a disrespectful relationship

Unfortunately, not all friendships or relationships are mutually respectful. Sometimes, you might find yourself dealing with toxic behaviours from friends/family/intimate partners, or even experiencing emotional abuse.

Here’s what disrespect can look like: 

  • Being ghosted, ignored or given the ‘silent treatment’ 
  • Being criticised or insulted 
  • Being humiliated, punished, blamed or threatened 
  • They lie, make up rumours or do other actions designed to hurt you or your reputation 
  • Your thoughts and feelings being dismissed or minimised 
  • Weaponised insecurities – they bring up stuff or highlight stuff you’re uncomfortable/ embarrassed about or told them in secret 
  • You feel like the stuff you say is always ‘wrong’ 
  • They make everything about them 

How can disrespect impact your relationships?

We get a lot of our self-worth from how the people we care about see us. Being disrespected can make you feel not good enough, worthless or like no one will want to be in a friendship or relationship with you.

I'm being disrespected... what can I do?

Sometimes we find ourselves not feeling respected by other people, including our family or friends.

While it’s not always possible to change somebody and make them respect you, there are some things you can try:

Show people what respect looks like by being respectful yourself

Communicate clearly – they may not realise how you feel

Set some boundaries/stand up for yourself

Spend time with people who are respectful and make you feel safe

Tell the person what they are doing isn’t ok and be specific

Talk to somebody you trust like a parent, teacher, or counsellor

Try to understand their point of view

Give that person a chance to change their behaviour toward you

It’s ok to end friendships with people if they can’t be respectful and you don’t feel safe around them


Don’t forget to have respect for yourself too!

Self-respect means accepting yourself as you are. It’s not about being perfect – it’s about knowing that you’re deserving of respect simply for being you.  

Self-respect also means being part of respectful relationships and not putting up with disrespect. Ending a relationship that isn’t respectful is a way of respecting yourself. 

"You can call out disrespect or discrimination by saying 'we don't do that here'. Anyone can be a disrespect upstander."

Kids Helpline is here to listen, support you, and share tips and ideas about how to have respectful relationships.

You're not alone

We're always here to listen and help

If you want to talk about respect or anything else, give us a call, start a WebChat or check out My Circle today.

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This content was last reviewed 17/08/2023

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