Teaching Your Kids about Respect, Values and Violence

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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These days it seems that every newscast reports at least once incident of violence. As parents, we send our kids off to school trusting they will be safe. More and more often we hear of violent incidents in schools. We need to talk to our children about violence and teach them respect. Bullying at school, in the community and cyber bullying are on the increase. Today’s children see violence of one form or another on a daily basis. It’s no wonder they turn to violence when problems arise.

When to Talk to Your Kids

It’s never too early to talk to your kids about violence and respect. Professionals agree that the earlier this is done, the better for everyone involved. If you don’t talk to them, someone else will, and it’s better coming from a parent. This ensures that your child learns what you want them to know. When children enter elementary school, they look to your to guide them. This is the best time to teach them to respect others and that violence, in any form, is wrong.

What to Do?

Don’t have a long, serious talk with young children. This is too much for them to absorb at one time. Instead, have little talks with them daily. Talk to them at night when they’re settling into bed or in the car on the way to and from school and shopping. This gives them an opportunity to open up and talk to you about what’s happening in their lives. Talk to them about the hard stuff that occurs in the world, such as violence, smoking and drugs. Talk to them about respecting others.


Before you talk to your kids, think about your own values and what you want to teach them. What did your parents teach you about values? What family values do you have today? What are the lessons you’ve learned from life experience. Think about all of these things and come up with a plan on what to teach your kids about values.

Once you’ve evaluated your values, you’ll find it easy to talk to your kids. Explain the issues you feel strongly about. Teach them to respect others regardless of ethnic background or religion. Teach them violence is wrong and how to build good relationships. Explain to them that violence is not acceptable and it doesn’t solve anything. In fact, they should know that violence only makes matters worse.


In today’s society, with violence always in the news, children may feel insecure and unsafe. It is imperative that parents teach children how to resolve problems peacefully so they can grow and learn in a secure environment. Though the majority of children will never have to deal with weapons in the classroom, most will, at some point, be the victim of bullying and teasing. Therefore, we need to teach our children how to cope with aggressive behavior. It helps if children know they can turn to your when problems arise and talking about violence and aggression can help them cope with their fears.


When your child starts kindergarten, he enters a whole different world. Even if he is used to playing with other children his age, at some point he may push or hit a classmate. Now is the time to let him know there are consequences for his actions and to set boundaries that he must respect. As his language and social skills improve, he will be less likely to display aggressive behavior. This is the time to teach him the difference between real and pretend violence. Let him know that real knives and guns can hurt him and that they are dangerous.

Young children tend to mimic their parents’ behavior. Set a good example by handling relationships and stress without resorting to anger, aggression and violence.

Elementary School

Schools across our nation have policies regarding aggression, intimidation, bullying and violence. Be certain to learn the policies that your child’s school has in place. You can use these policies to open the door to discussions with your child about violence. Let them know that they should tell you, a police officer, a teacher or some other adult immediately if they see anyone with a weapon.

Check with the parents of your child’s friends and inquire if they have guns or other weapons in their home. If so, ask if they are properly stored in a locked cabinet and if the key is in a secure place. Statistics show that over 40% of accidental shootings involving children under the age of 16 happen in the homes of someone they know.

When your elementary school age child displays anger or frustration, encourage him to vent his anger in a positive and appropriate manner.

Children who witness violence, whether real or fictional, can experience high anxiety and extreme fear. The news often shows clips of violence in schools. If you child happens to see one of these clips, use the opportunity to open a discussion on whether or not he’s seen weapons in the possession of fellow students or in the home of a friend. Always let your child know that he can talk to you about violence and weapons. If he does talk to you about violence, be sure to take his concerns seriously. This will let him know that your will provide support and that you care about his safety.

Today’s world is a scary place at times, even for adults. Ascertain that you talk to your child about violence, values and respect in order for him to feel safe and secure at school, in the community and at home.

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