The Gift of Respect

Picture the Eiffel Tower. Easy. Congure up an image of birthday. Still do-able. Now, describe the face of respect. Blurry?

It’ll soon be Christmastime and many families will snuggle up to watch the Frank Capra classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Of course, George Bailey is the richest man in town. The people of Bedford Falls had lots of respect for George...and yet he needed help to see it. 

Do you see the respect from your kids?  Do the children catch it from mom and dad?  Home Is Fun developed a tool to help parents and kids put their finger on R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Read on to know how it works or go directly to the free<img src=

Signal (vs. Scream) Distress

In Humor, Play & Laughter, Stress-Proofing Life With Your Kids, Joseph Michelli shares an instance where he and his son use sailing signs to communicate. Each flag represents a question or answer which both of them understand. At bedtime, his son waves the yellow and green (“May I stay up longer?”) and father replies with white and blue (“5 minutes. I’m putting the timer on & then not one more word.”)

Here’s how we put his ideas to work to give a face to R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

When Kids Give Respect to Parents

How can we count the ways?! One obvious time is when mom or dad say, “stop” and the children continue. “Stop!” follows until the parents explode with “STOP NOW!” Hardly respectful on either end (we’ve been there).

Mom or Dad pull out the Stop Sign. “I’m pulling a ‘Stop’,” means stop immediately and without discussion. If there is bickering, then don’t put in a last word. If there is fighting, don’t push while leaving the room.

If discussion is needed, let it happen later, when the tempers have cooled. (This habit has revolutionized our home. Read about it.)

Click to download "Stop" n "Go" Give & Take.

When Parents Give Respect to Kids

Child’s thoughts: “Ooh, oh. I did something wrong and here comes The Parental Lecture.” Worthier-than-thou words seem to flow out of mom and dad’s mouth without restrain! When they’re met by an exasperated sigh from Princess and a here-it-comes-again roll of the eyes from Junior, the parent’s discourse only gains in intensity. Dr. Michelli encourages family members to adjust their comic vision. Frankly, we laugh at similar scenes in movies. In our home, they are not fun.

Let the kids pull the stop. Give them the signs: “Gimme a break” “Cool your jets” “Chill Out” It’s not your everyday language? All the better. They’ll be clear signs asking for respect.

Click to download "Stop" n "Go" Give & Take.

It Worked For Us

Thank you to the families who tried and it and tweaked it.

- “I gave them as Christmas presents. I printed out the Home Is Fun sheet on glossy photo paper and slid it into an envelope with instructions. Every month, my child could choose any three moments to stop my lecture. No more “I’ll stop but…” from me! She would give me two immediate stops at my demand. She felt she got a fair deal.”

- “The boys made fun of the printout. When I proposed to take it back, they opted to keep the idea without the physical signs. The phrases (Gimme a Break & Cool Your Jets especially) were helpful because we don’t hear them around home…except when they are annoyed at my preaching.
But ‘stop’ is a word I say all too often. To distinguish this ‘stop’ from the others, we call it ‘Pulling a stop on you.’”

- “It’s hard to stop in the middle of a sentence when my daughter calls me on it. It’s been a discipline. But by following up on this promise, I can see that I gained credibility with her.”

- “We used these signs regularly for several months and only rarely now. I think they taught us to be more sensitive to our own behavior and to each other. They had their moment of real usefulness. Thanks.”

Photo by Robert Doisneau

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