Parenting Series: How To Build Respect with Boys

Apr 17, 2013 | Parenting

Written By Rebecca Kissee

 Rebecca and her husband, Josh Kissee have authored a new e-book “Bringing Up Boys Of Virtue”  that can be purchased from Amazon.  Check it out now for a reasonable price.  A book review I’ve written is also posted here.

Luke 6:31 “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (NIV)

One of the loudest ways to reach your son is through respect. The old adage “treat others the way you want to be treated” applies here.

As a mother of 5 boys, I often find myself correcting my sons when they are being disrespectful or too wild.  (Mothers of boys should be able to relate to the wild part!) After the 5th time of correction in as many minutes, I catch myself becoming disrespectful back to them. Phrases such as “How many times do I have to tell you?” or “At this age I expect Disrespectful boybetter than this!” become the norm. The reply I get back is either a head hung down in defeat or compliance mixed with semi-controlled anger. Neither of which fixes the heart issue with my son. He feels embarrassed and disrespected and I am left feeling frustrated and guilty.

The Solution

In speaking to a wise friend about this issue she offered me some great advice.

Allow your child to come up with a code word for you to use when they are being disrespectful.

Coming to your child and letting him be a part of deciding the code word shows him that his opinion matters and that he is worthy of respect.

The code word can be simple such as “calm down” or can be a true code word/phrase such as “ it looks like rain today.” Other examples could include:

  • Respect please
  • Is something wrong?
  • The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain
  • Purple Tuesday
  • Breaking out in an uninhibited rendition of Aretha Franklin’s ……..”R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

However, let your child be creative and come up with something that will not embarrass him. Rather, this code word should cue him toward the fact that he needs to change the behavior immediately.

One of our children chose to use the Latin word for “be calm”. Using a different language can mask what you are trying to say to outsiders, while still getting the point across to your child.

Tell your son that you will use this word that he has chosen instead of yelling at him or embarrassing him.

The Caveat

He needs to respond in an equally respectful way. When you use your code word he should respond with “yes ma’am” or “thanks for the reminder” or another respectful response.

His responding lets you know that he has heard you and acknowledges the situation and helps build a respectful relationship between you and your son.

Have you tried using a “code word” to address disrespectful behavior in your home? How did your son react?

becca kissee profile pictureRebecca Kissee is the proud Mother of five sons and co-founder of She and her husband, Joshua, enjoy raising their sons Jacob, Jordan, Johnathan, Jonah, and Jared. They believe that boys need to acquire a great variety of skills and character traits on the journey to becoming a man. Joshua and Rebecca enjoy blogging about topics to teach boys and display a new topic each week from over 300 ManBuilding ideas to teach your son. Checkout the family at


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  1. Island Traveler

    A priceless advice from a a loving, wise and generous person. The best lessons we could give is by example. “One of the loudest ways to reach your son is through respect. ” Just like love and affection, respect is something we show and give. Words are mere words if we don’t become the model of the things we hope to change.God bless you and your family.

    • Rebecca Kissee

      Thank you for such a sweet and thoughtful response. It is a blessing to share my experiences with others.

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