Parenting Resources

Teaching Respect to Infants, Toddlers & Preschoolers

Teaching delayed gratification, patience and self-control, which fosters respect, starts very early. By the age of 9 months, infants can begin understanding the concept of “no” which is an inherent part of developing respect. Click here to see our parenting handout on Teaching the Concept of “No” or type the following into your address bar:

Parents who give in to a child’s demands early on will become victims of that child’s whims, or will become very frustrated trying to undo what is likely to become consciously disrespectful behaviors.

Ideas to help teach your infant or toddler the concept of respect:

  • Calmly and quietly correct behaviors like pulling objects from tables and throwing food, re-directing your toddler to something positive
  • Soothe and hug your child when he is hurt or frustrated, but firmly express disapproval for tantrums and behaviors that can be destructive
  • Role model: Say “please and thank you” often, both to your children and others
  • Teach your child to begin respecting other children’s possessions. “That toy belongs to Susie, you can play with this toy.”
  • Encourage your toddler to share through practice. “Here are two sandwiches. Please give one sandwich to your brother.” 
  • Treat your child with respect – and expect the same from her.


  • Teach your child to use appropriate language to express his displeasure. “You can say you are disappointed but you cannot say your brother is a brat.”
  • Be a role model. Do not call your children by mean or demeaning terms. Never call your children “mean”, “ugly”, “stupid”, etc.
  • Do not allow children to use demeaning language to describe any one. “In our family we do not use language like that.”
  • Teach your child how to talk with adults. Practice saying “hello” and looking at adults’ faces when talking with them. 
  • Write thank you notes. Even three and four year olds can color a card and tell his parent what to write.
  • Children of this age are noticing people who look or act differently. Talk with your children at home about people who have disabilities and how to treat them with kindness. “It is not polite to ask someone in a wheelchair why they cannot walk.”

By this age, children should have learned to obey parents (most of the time). If your child is constantly disrespectful, please consult with your pediatrician.

For additional information on discipline, view the following NPC newsletters (which can also be accessed by visiting our page for archived newsletters or by typing "" into your address bar: