Five Ways to Teach Your Children to be Respectful

28 Jan 2016

In this weeks parsha, Parshat Yitro we read about Matan Torah and the Aseret HaDibrot.

The most important parenting advice of all is given in this week’s parsha: Honor thy father and mother.

Most of us our familiar with this concept, Traditionally, the first five commandments are between God and man and the last five are between man and others. God felt that honoring parents was so important that he placed it in the category of commandments between God and man.

According to Wendy Mogel, in her book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, teaching kids to respect parents and authority is the most basic skill that children need to lead moral lives:

“Your children will only accept your guidance and heed your advice if they respect you,” she writes. “In fact, it’s fair to say that if you don’t teach your children to honor you, you’ll have a very hard time teaching them anything else.”

She continues:

“The full text of the fifth commandment reads, ‘Honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the land your Lord God is giving to you.’ The deal is God promised “that your days may be long upon the land.” Encompasses more than just you and your spouse. Raise responsible, respectful, children, and not only will they care for you in your old age, they’ll extend that care to their society. Your most lasting legacy, the only one that really matters, is how your children will treat their fellow creatures and the world you are leaving them. It begins and ends with honor.”

It is also true that by teaching our children to honor us, we are ultimately teaching them to honor God. How does a Jew honor God? This is done by emulating God’s attributes and acting like a mensch with acts of kindness, forgiveness, compassion and patience. That should be our goal as parents: teaching our children the building blocks of a just and civilized society.

Slovie Jungreiss-Wolff in her book, Raising A Child With Soul, explains this beautifully:

“I kindle my Sabbath lights and beseech G-d to help me raise children who will contribute goodness to mankind, children who are blessed with kindness, honesty, compassion, love of G-d, and spirituality. I ask that my children discover courage and inner strength in a world that has been overwhelmed with fear and terror. I want so much more than merely polite children… I pray for children who will possess a moral compass, pointing them in the right path no matter how difficult the situation. In Yiddish we call such and individual, a mensch.”

This all begins from us teaching our children to respect and honor us. This is why it needs to be in the Ten Commandments.

It can be tricky but we can train our kids to be respectful.

  1. Teach children from a very young age, to use “please” and “thank you.” Babies can even learn to do this via sign language.
  2. Be respectful to your children when you speak to them. Keep yelling at a minimum. (I know we all lose it, try to apologize if you do.)
  3. When you need to admonish your children try to do it when you are both calm.
  4. Teach children to knock on your door before they come in and not sit in your seat. (Give everyone some time to get used to this, if you have not been doing this all along.)
  5. Try to speak as respectfully as you can to everyone around you—your children are watching your every move.


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.