How to teach children respect for their elders

We suggest the following to teach children respect for their elders:

Be aware that you reap what you sow. Set a proper example by treating your own parents and your spouse with respect. Children will notice your example. They will especially notice how you treat them.- Don't yell at them. Just as you cannot make a car go by merely honking the horn, you can't make children go by yelling.

Be kind, courteous, considerate. As you speak to them, they will come to speak to you. Actively listen. They won't listen to you if you don't listen to them. Their concerns are as important to them as your concerns are to you.

Respect their privacy as you desire them to respect yours. No one in our house opens a closed door without knocking first.

Be willing to say "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." Use "Thank you" and "Please." Children will imitate this attitude. Bite your tongue instead of "I told you so," "Why can't you . . . ," and "You never . . . ."

Love your children. Love begets love, trust and respect. - Jan and Clarence Dickson, Hawthorne, Calif.

What we did:

Terms of respect

Before children can respect their elders, the elders must merit that respect. They should remember to be role models.

Children should call their teachers, neighbors and all adults in terms of respect - using titles such as bishop, president, brothers, sisters, Mr., Mrs., aunt, uncle, etc.

Adults can and should be loving, friendly and approachable, but they should discreetly maintain a subtle distance according to the position they hold in the child's life. Children should be taught to respect these positions and address the adults accordingly.

For that matter all ward members should refer to their leaders in the same terms of respect - bishop, president, brothers or sisters, showing by example that they respect the calling held by another. - Marjorie Wilson, Cambria, Calif.

Screen TV

It is said that respect cannot be demanded; it has to be earned. Following are a few ideas for earning and teaching respect:

Disrespect is taught by many of the shows on TV. A parent should screen which shows are watched or should watch with the children, if appropriate, discussing inappropriate behavior as needed.

Parents and teachers should not tolerate rudeness or disrespect. Lessons on the reasons for showing respect could assist in the teaching of these values. Be willing to discuss the need for rules and be flexible in modifying rules where changes are warranted.

Parents and teachers should strive to be the kind of parent or teacher that the children will want to love and respect. - Richard L. Ricks, Spring, Texas

Be an example

Most of us need to remember that by respecting elderly people ourselves, we are setting an example for our children.

Make children feel and know from an early age how to respect. Teach children to serve elderly people. Think of the blessings the children will receive from the Lord. - Lorraine R. Shoop, Naperville, Ill.

Taught as child

I am a member of the Navajo tribe in Arizona. As a child, I was taught by my parents to refer to those who are elderly as Grandma or Grandpa, according to our culture. As I married and had my own children I taught this to them. My parents, my grandparents all have gone to the other side of the veil. Yet my children know that they have those who are elderly as their grandmas and grandpas. My children have great respect for them. If ever they see an elderly person they address him or her and will help him or her out with whatever the needs may be.

In our culture, we are taught that we are all a family. This is so as members of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a privilege to have those who are elderly as part of our lives. They teach us by word and by example. - LaVonnie David, Leupp, Ariz.

Positive results of respect

The most important thing is being an example yourself, of listening to and respecting your parents and others who are elderly. Respecting your own parents and grandparents helps children see the importance and positive results of respect.

It's also important to teach children to respect you as parents and also their brothers and sisters. I would suggest setting ground rules, including the fact that being disrespectful of anyone in the family is not permissible. If children respect you and other members of the family, they tend to respect others outside the family.

It's also important to help children understand that they can learn a lot from those who are elderly.

Showing respect for others goes a long way; it helps children as they begin to interact with adults at school, Church and at such things as athletic events. - Sheridan R. Sheffield, Ogden, Utah

Frequent contact

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to help them have frequent contact with their older relatives from the time they are very young.

I was fortunate to grow up in a household where two great-grandmothers lived with our family. I understood these elderly women were an important part of the survival and growth of our family. They made their own contributions, not the least of which was their loving interaction with me and my brothers as they taught us about our heritage, history and traditions. Their interactions with the family decreased as they grew older, but the relationships we developed earlier in our lives motivated us to treat them with respect and appreciation even when they eventually became unable to respond. After their deaths, the positive memories of my great-grandmothers left me with a knowledge of the importance of each individual in a family, regardless of age or physical condition.

After I married, my own growing family experienced many cross-country moves which separated us from relatives. I developed a desire for my children to get to know their own great-grandmother, so each summer, I would send her a plane ticket to visit us wherever we happened to be that year. This allowed my grandmother to develop a loving relationship with my children from the time they were very young. A natural respect for her developed within them as they spent many hours with her in our home over the years. She was a good person who reached out to her great-grandchildren with the great love, patience and kindness she developed during her many years of living. When she finally died of cancer, they were able to remember many positive things about their relationship with her. Many years later, my children still speak of her with great regard and affection. I see this attitude carrying over into their relationships with other elderly people, even though my children are now teenagers. - Ana Grabiel, Danville, Calif.

How to checklist:

1 Start when children are young; teach courtesy titles.

2 Be a good example; treat your own parents and grandparents respectfully.

3 Help children serve the elderly; teach respect.

4 Be the kind of parent or teacher that children will want to love and esteem.


Feb. 21 "How to supplement your regular income."

Feb. 28 "How to help youth make family a priority."

March 7 "How to deal with neighbor problems."

March 14 "How to make the Sabbath more meaningful."

March 21 "How to rear children in light and truth."

March 28 "How to begin family history research."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to save more, spend less," "How to build a strong work ethic in children," "How to encourage children and young people to be physically active," "How to avoid greed," "How to be more resilient in day-to-day life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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