Do Your Children Respect You or Are They Afraid of You

Sometimes, as parents, we may have trouble setting rules at home. But it's important to instill respect rather than make your children afraid of you.
Do Your Children Respect You or Are They Afraid of You

Last update: 06 November, 2021

Are you one of those parents who tries to discipline your children with authoritarianism? You should know that it’s not the best way to educate them. Or are you instead the type of parent that your children respect above all else? To find out if your children are afraid of you or if they respect you, here are some guidelines that will help you. Keep reading!

Being authoritarian can work once, twice, three times. Maybe a few more, depending on the child. However, in the medium and long term, this only produces negative consequences. If you’re always imposing yourself instead of listening, your child may start to be afraid of you and respond to you only in that way.

So, it’s important that you understand that the relationship between a fear-inspiring parent and a trust-inspiring parent is similar to that of a boss and a true leader.

Authority must be earned through your actions. Being a parent gives you authority by right, but for your children to feel it as such, you have to earn it day by day.

Inspiring fear so that they act in the way that you expect is to act the same way as an authoritarian boss in your work. Imagine your superior telling you to do something very difficult and that you don’t know how to do. Then imagine your boss telling you that they need you to do something together with them so you can learn and then do it by yourself. Do you see the difference?

It’s clear that you’re the one with the knowledge and experience. You must learn to transmit it to your children! Just knowing how things are done is of no use if you ask for something and don’t explain how it is done.

  • Show your children that you respect them and teach them to respect others as well. How? By setting an example. Treating them and the people around them well will create an environment in which your children will learn to act correctly. Remember to always ask them for things with a please and thank you. This will help them incorporate the same habits.
  • Be loving. There’s no better way to teach a child than by showing affection.
A young girl holding a paper heart over her face and smiling.
  • Listen to everything they have to say to you. Don’t belittle their comments or opinions. Show that what they think and feel is important to you. This way, they’ll understand that you value them and they’ll also learn to value you.

What attitudes should you avoid so that my child isn’t afraid of you?

  • Hitting them
  • Threatening them
  • Shouting at them
  • Insulting them
  • Humiliating them
  • Showing hatred
  • Making them feel bad
  • Being intolerant
  • Punishing them constantly or for no reason
  • Criticizing them negatively

Always keep in mind that children are fragile creatures and that they absorb everything that happens around them like a sponge. If the environment is a violent environment, that will facilitate the incorporation of violent attitudes in the child. If you show them a place full of love and understanding, your child will incorporate that within them.

How do you know if my children are afraid of you?

You must evaluate your behavior with your child to know what they see from what you show them.

If you have an authoritarian, corrective attitude, if you usually do some of the things that we advise you to avoid, it’s likely that your children don’t respect you. Rather, they obey because they’re afraid of you.

To earn their respect, you must maintain a healthy coexistence in your home, talk with your children, show understanding, and be affectionate. Remember that everything that goes around comes around. If you’re respectful toward them, they’ll learn that, and they’ll be respectful to you.

What if I stop being authoritarian and they don’t respect me?

We must help our children understand that we’re the ones who have the experience and knowledge that they’ll later acquire throughout their lives. When they’re small or young, they still don’t know many things, and we need to be there to assist them, to guide them, and give them advice.

A woman holding her hand up as if to say "stop".

Not being authoritarian doesn’t mean not setting limits. And setting limits isn’t taking away all rights or freedom from your children. The limits must be consistent, and they must make sense.

For example, if your child has to get up at 6 in the morning to go to school, it’s logical for you not to allow them to go out until late, as they have responsibilities to assume. When they’re little, children have no sense of responsibility. So we must help them understand these things.

We must also consider setting limits to protect them physically and, if necessary, protect them from others.

Always before taking any action of this type, think about what you’re looking to achieve, and if you think it’s the best way to do it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Wild, R. (2011). Libertad y límites. Amor y respeto: Lo que los niños necesitan de nosotros. Herder Editorial.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.