How to teach your children respect and stop the cycle of violence – SBS | Team Cansler

  • Don’t excuse bad behavior, take the opportunity to discuss how to be respectful
  • Be willing to talk often about the importance of respect
  • Respectful relationships are important online and offline
  • Resources are available to help adults have these conversations with children of all ages
In 2022, more than 60 women and children in Australia were killed by someone who once told them “I love you”.
These numbers published by a volunteer-run organization that supports people fleeing domestic violence are a call for Australians to end the behaviors that are becoming normal or could lead to domestic violence.

Research has shown that the cycle of violence can begin at an early age, with the beliefs and attitudes that boys and girls unconsciously learn from others, particularly adults around them.

Look for opportunities to talk about respect

Whether it’s preschoolers pulling each other’s hair, siblings fighting, or a teenage son speaking disrespectfully to his girlfriend, there are many opportunities for parents, caregivers, and teachers to talk to children about respect.

You’re never too young or too old to have this conversation.

The little brother attacks his sister Recognition: StockPlanets/Getty Images

When parents avoid addressing disrespectful behavior with excuses like “he’s too young,” “boys are boys,” or “it’s just a joke,” they are subconsciously telling their children that “it’s okay to be disrespectful.” According to educational expert Dr. Rosina says McAlpine.

In her book inspired children, dr McAlpine recommends parents take three simple steps to address the situation:

Sabove: calm everything down, go away, take a deep breath

Empathise: Connect with your child, put yourself in their shoes

Educate: Teach them how to be in the world

“In other words, you VIEW differently,” she explains.

mother disturbs the son with the skateboard

Experts say it’s important for parents to stop and curb disrespectful behavior while maintaining a respectful attitude. Recognition: Frank Reporter/Getty Images

When adults or children are unable to regulate their emotions, it can lead to anger, anger, and even violence, explains Dr. McAlpine.

She says learning the techniques to stop the behavior without showing anger is the first step.
To do this, the parents must take a deep breath, remain calm and, if necessary, separate the children who are fighting.

Then parents can strive to “see things from the child’s point of view,” “put themselves in their shoes,” and understand that they’re still learning, explains Dr. McAlpine.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be in a good position to help children understand that their disrespect was not okay and raise them to be respectful.

dr Rosina McAlpine, parenting expert and author

SG Sexual Health image

Be prepared to speak often

Talking about respect might be uncomfortable for some parents and children who don’t do it regularly.
Rather than sit down for a formal conversation about respect, adults can take advantage of the opportunities that arise from everyday situations.
a national campaign to end gender-based violenceto help parents start conversations about respect with their children.

“It can be so easy to think about your child’s day together before bed and ask what they would have done differently,” says mother-of-three Becca Ehlers.


Becca Ehlers says one simple strategy is to talk about respect with your kids as you go through the day together before bed. Recognition: Becca Ehlers

“When my children experience conflict with friends, witness an incident at school, or watch something on TV or a movie, we take the time to talk about it whenever possible,” she adds.

If you do it often, those conversations will flow more naturally and feel less difficult.

“We can talk on the way home from school, on the car ride to and from work, or in those last moments before bed and really appreciate how our day went and what we could have done differently or better each day.”

Mother and daughter in the car

Recognition: Jupiterimages/Getty Images

Ms Ehlers says it’s also important to pay attention to how the family interacts on a daily basis.

In their household, household chores are divided and distributed equally without regard to gender.

“My daughters should mow the lawn, my son should clear the dishes and vacuum,” explains Ms. Ehlers.

No one is made to feel stronger or weaker, more special or less important because of their gender. My kids are taught that all jobs have value, that all people are capable of contributing, and that we work best as a team.

Ms. Elhers adds that excuses like “this is a girl’s job or a boy’s job” are not acceptable in her household.
Instead, she emphasizes the value of family teamwork and “kindness in all circumstances” to encourage and empower her children to be more compassionate, tolerant, and respectful.
“They soon realized that if others were kind to others, they were overwhelmingly kind in turn.”
Small child comforts sad young friend

Recognition: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Getty Images

Be respectful online

As children spend more time online, they are at greater risk of being victims of cyberbullying or being exposed to harmful predatory and coercive behaviors.
is Australia’s largest independent provider of preventive health education for school children.

Life Ed NSW/ACT CEO Jonathon Peatfield says maintaining healthy relationships online and offline has never been more important.

Children need to be taught fundamental skills in empathy, respect and communication throughout their school years.

Life Ed NSW/ACT CEO Jonathon Peatfield

He believes that a comprehensive pedagogical approach is key.
“Parents, teachers and the community also have a role to play in preventing bullying and need to be supported so that children learn the skills they need to become responsible and respectful digital citizens.”
focuses on teaching the life skills needed to maintain respectful relationships online and face-to-face.
The program teaches children to understand what bullying is, learn positive and assertive communication skills, foster empathy and respectful relationships, and know where and who to turn to for help and support.

The program also includes resources for families and schools so everyone can participate.

Young girl (6 years) on couch with tablet

Young girl (6 years) on couch with tablet Recognition: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

Change our values

Ms Ehlers says there is a long-established and outdated cultural tendency in Australia to tolerate or accept disrespect.
She believes this is expressed through the frequent use of phrases like “boys will stay boys”, which normalizes male rudeness.

She says that certain disrespectful or overwhelming behaviors are considered desirable male traits in some circles, so she believes it’s important to encourage societal change to place more emphasis on kindness.

Creating a culture that prioritizes kindness above all other qualities promotes respect for others and in turn helps reduce violence of all kinds.

Mrs. Becca Ehlers, mother of three children

This is something parenting expert Ms. McAlpine supports.

“The world should be a safe place for everyone. We could stop violence in a generation if we could stop it in the first place by teaching our children to be non-violent and respectful,” concludes Dr Rosina McAlpine.

How to find support

  • If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment or assault, call 1800RESPECT at 1800.737.732 or visit us .
  • Call for emotional support 13 11 14
  • For local support services in your state or territory, click
  • In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

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