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Have you noticed a real lack of respect from children these days? It used to be that a child appeared angelic everywhere but home, but that’s not the case anymore. Now, children not only smart off to their parents but to teachers, neighbors and other adults. They aren’t afraid, or too ashamed, to share their bad attitudes. Young children may stick out their tongues while older ones roll their eyes and smart off. What is happening in our society?

It starts with each one of us.  The first step is to take a good hard look in the mirror, and be honest with yourself. Do you put down others? How about where kids can hear you?  Do you call the policeman ridiculous for giving you a speeding ticket, after all, it was only five miles over the speed limit?  Do you talk about your in-laws inappropriately?  That means in any way other than positive. Do you leave worship services talking about the lady behind you that sounded like a freight train or the man who led the longest, most boring prayer ever?  How about the cashier that wouldn’t stop talking? Do you roll your eyes? These examples may seem minor, like they are not a big deal, but they are.  Our kids hear our words, they see our attitudes and emulate them.  Often times, we are to blame, at least partially, for this disrespect.  Well, us and a few million other very human parents out there.

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6

So now what? We know it’s a problem but how do we fix it.  Again, it begins with each one of us and God’s church. And it’s not a quick fix. We need to stop immediately letting negative, worthless talk come out of our mouths. Can you imagine what our kids would sound like if they learned to find positive words to say all the time?  If the church, that’s all of God’s people, do this I am certain we will see a huge change. It will take time to reverse the bad behavior, but consciously making this change in our own lives where we make it obvious to children will cause a change in behaviors. Stop yourself when you realize your doing it again and comment on your change.  Let kids see you fixing a negative pattern.

Ministers, please begin teaching intentionally on this topic and change the world. Children’s ministers, share this, teach this to your parents. The earlier they start the more likely they are to see success. Parents and grandparents, take this to heart. It’s time to make a nationwide difference starting at home. Kids who feel loved tend to show love, thus, respect.

For teachers looking for solutions in the classroom, be firm, but kind. Don’t ignore bad behavior, but address it in the proper setting with the proper attitude. If a child is telling you no, they will not participate or sit and listen, have an assistant take them outside the room so they are not disrupting others and so the behavior can be addressed privately. Once pride kicks in, you’re not going to get far. It may seem strange, but pray with the child. Tell them the behavior is not acceptable. When they commit to behaving, let them rejoin the group. With a very patient helper it is effective. Give it a try and share your experiences.

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