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6 Ways to Teach Respect to Preschool Children

respect preschool


It is hard to remember that children aren’t born with a built-in sense of respect for others.  Children need to be taught to be respectful.  Modeling respect is one of the easiest ways to teach children to be respectful.  However, here are some quick and easy ideas of how to teach respect to young children.

So, what exactly is the definition of respect?

  • Respect is thinking and acting in a positive way about yourself or others.
  • Respect is thinking and acting in a way that shows others you care about their feelings and their well-being.

(Source: https://talkingtreebooks.com/definition/what-is-respect.html)


#1  Discuss what respect means.  Before you approach the subject, have a little fun and play Aretha Franklin’s song “Respect”.  Put up chart paper or use a Dry Erase board, and ask the children to create a “Recipe” for Respect.  List the “ingredients” of respect.  Tell children that respect means “acting nice and talking nice.”  Give the following examples and ask children if that examples shows respect or not:

  • The teacher asks Sam to clean up his toys and he yells, “I don’t want to!” (No)
  • Sally holds the door open for her friend when going out to the playground. (Yes)
  • Jaden keeps interrupting his teacher as she is talking to the other children.  (No)
  • Ellie shared her baby doll with her friend Makayla. (Yes)
  • Jordan throws his garbage on the ground.  (No)
  • Jack looks his mom in the eye when she says good-bye for the day.  (Yes)


#2 Make a Respect Paper Chain.  Prepare strips of brightly colored paper.  Ask each child name a way to show respect to each other at school.  Write their answers on the strips of paper, then create a paper chain to hang in the room.


#3 Create Respect/Disrepect Baskets.  Pick out two baskets. Make one of the baskets bright and pretty (this will be your respect basket) and make the other basket old and dingy (this will be your disrespect basket). Fill your disrespect basket with items you have collected around the room that are lacking in respect: torn books, a broken toy, a stuffed animal with a missing button, or a dirty cup. Tell children that the items in your “disrespect basket” want to be moved to the “respect basket” that you need their help. Invite them to figure out with you why the object landed in the disrespect basket in the first place and then what can be done to help the item move over to the happy and very pretty respect basket!  (Thanks, familyeducation®)


#4 Mother [Teacher Name], May I?  Line up the children facing you, about 10 feet away. Give commands to one child at a time: “Sarah, take one hop forward.” If Sarah responds, “Mother [Miss Tina], may I?” you can say either “Yes, you may” or “No, you may not.” If your reply is “yes,” make sure that Sarah says “Thank you” before she goes. Anyone who forgets her manners or makes a move without permission is sent back to the starting line. Keep playing until one child reaches Mother [Teacher Name].  Give each kid a chance to be “Mother”.


#5 Simon Says.  Use a changed version of  Simon Says” to talk to children about how to say “please” and “thank you.” Instead of using the words “Simon says” as the first words, use the word “Please” as the first word; meaning, children should only follow you if you first say “please.” Those who follow your action without your saying “please” are out of the game. Thank the children after each action.


#6 Respect/Disrespect Sorting.  Cut out and Laminate the pictures below and have children sort them by Respectful and Disrepectul behavior.

Amazon Picks and Resources:

16 Books to Teach Kids About Good Manners

September is Kids Good Manners Month!  It is never too early to start teaching manners to children.  Teaching manners at a young age can help children develop into respectful, empathetic individuals.  Manners don’t come naturally to children.  They must be taught to children, explained, and reinforced.


“While it’s normal for preschoolers to still be self-centered, teaching manners reminds them that other people in the world matter and deserve respect,” says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Temple University, in Philadelphia.


good manners


Here is a collection of books (old and new) that can help toddlers and preschool children learn manners.


How to Teach Manners in the Classroom

(excerpt from How to Teach Manners in Preschool – Pre-K Pages)

When it comes to teaching manners in the classroom, start by role playing different please and thank you scenarios.

Sit in a circle with the children and practice passing an item around the circle as each child says the following phrases: “Please pass the ____” and “Thank you”

Play this game several times the first few weeks of school but you also need to reinforce the skill throughout the day and the year.

I might say “Remember your manners during center time, how do we ask for something?”


Reinforcing Manners

Whenever you notice your students need a little reminder about how to use manners, stop and play a quick game to reinforce the skill.

If you want your students to wait for a turn, make a game out of it and play that game with them frequently until they learn how to do it. Then be sure you reinforce it frequently as well.

There are many games that support the development of self-regulation, or waiting for turn such as Red Light, Green LightFreeze, and Duck, Duck, Goose.

If you make learning the skill fun and turn it into a game your year will go more smoothly.