From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Respect

Teach your kids how to treat someone the way they want to be treated.

Mar 27, 2023



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Respect

Mar 27, 2023

Teaching your child about respect means helping them understand that everyone deserves to feel cared for and important and that their beliefs, contributions, and what they have to say are valued. 

At home, giving your child your full attention when they are speaking to you is a fundamental way of showing mutual respect. Actively listening and making eye contact lets your child know respect is a two-way street. For times when your child shows disrespect or tests limits, respond calmly — it’s the more respectful approach — and explain how their behavior or comment is impolite and hurtful. Then, offer ways they can change their behavior and show that they care. 

You can support and reinforce your conversations about respect with books.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about respect easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

Whether you’re just setting out teaching basic manners like “please” and “thank you,” or starting a larger conversation about open-mindedness, here are some resources below to help your child understand the meaning of respect.

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Picture Books for Preschoolers:

In Will Ladybug Hug?, readers meet Ladybug, who loves to hug! But do her friends want hugs? Preschoolers will love this charming story with a lesson about consent at its core.

Little ones get a hands-on lesson in manners with the board book Please, Mr. Panda. Mr. Panda has a box of doughnuts and is happy to offer one to every animal he comes across. Many animals take a doughnut without saying “please” or “thank you.” Is there a more respectful way to respond to Mr. Panda’s generosity? 

Make read-aloud time more engaging by using different voices to distinguish between polite Mr. Panda and his impatient friends. You can emphasize the author’s repetition of “please” and “thank you” to create links in your child’s memory.

Articles for Older Readers:

With age comes accountability. Children graduate from learning basic manners and social conduct to taking on responsible adult behavior. For students in middle school and high school especially, that includes respecting others’ personal boundaries and getting consent for certain interactions. 

Let’s Talk About Respect,” from Scholastic Choices magazine, cites six real-life examples of unwanted attention that teens have experienced at school, like cat-calling or being solicited to send revealing photos by text message. Readers are asked how they would respond to each incident. The article concludes with a definition of sexual harassment and how to report it. 

In “We’re Standing Up for Respect” by Jessica Press for Scholastic Choices magazine, the focus shifts from the classroom to the locker room, specifically “locker room talk.” Tackling the unspoken culture of disrespect between the sexes, this article offers suggestions for how readers can become better advocates for their peers. For instance, addressing the situation head-on ("Hey, that's not cool") or changing the subject when it gets uncomfortable or lewd are just two solutions that can be effective.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on respect. If you’re having talks with your child about this and other complex topics, and seek tips or book recommendations, visit our Tough Topics hub, where you’ll find a wealth of advice from Scholastic editors to help you navigate challenging conversations thoughtfully. Recent topic additions include:

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