Respecting Our Children - Sarah Mae
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Respecting Our Children

They were outside playing and he said he didn’t want to get wet.

She doused him anyway.

My sweet, wonderful, full of fun helper doused the boy who didn’t want to get wet. She figured it was all fun.

And then he went missing. “Where is Caed?” I asked her. “He came in before us” she replied.


Ah, he was hiding in his bedroom underneath his blanket. He was soaked and when I went to tickle him (thinking he was hiding for fun), he looked up at me with tear wet eyes and said, “I didn’t want to get wet, and I told her that.”

My children love Miss A, and she loves them and never wants to hurt them or make them sad. She was just playing with them and having fun and had no idea the boy would be so upset. She is so humble and sweet and she went to the boy and said she was sorry. Of course he forgave her, and they went on as usual. But a lesson is learned.

We must respect one another.

I believe that respecting our children is of the utmost importance. I want them to know that when they say “no” or “stop” that they should be listened to, respected. If I’m tickling my babes and they say stop, I stop. If I go to rub their back and they say stop, I stop (and I don’t make them feel guilty for it). We should not be offended if our children don’t feel like hugging, or being tickled, or playing ball, or getting wet, or whatever. They are growing into who they are and what they like and don’t like, and we need to respect their boundaries.

Just as we want our boundaries respected.

They need to know that what they say matters, that we care about their opinions and feelings and bents. It’s not only how we respect them, it’s how we gain their trust.

And I want the trust of my children.

I bet you do to.

Let’s listen to our babes and offer them a safe place to grow and learn and stretch into who they are. Let’s respect those little loves of ours.
Love, SM

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  • Shawn Smucker

    Great reminder, Sarah.

  • Christin

    I totally agree. It’s important for them to know that their boundaries are important, not only for us, but for any “bad guys”. They need to know that ALL people need to respect their boundaries, and that starts at home. Totally agree my friend. Good word!

  • Johanna Hanson

    SO true! Respecting them and listening to their concerns is so important. It may seem like no big deal to us, but it is a big deal to them.

  • Mandi @ Life…Your Way

    I love this! This has always been really important to me too because as a child (and really, even as a young adult), I would laugh when I was frustrated, and people would continue to tease/tickle/whatever me thinking it was all in good fun.

    In our home, we have a code word. When someone says “uncle” that means stop. Stop right now. This very second. Even if you think it’s all in fun.

    We teach our girls not to overuse that word (i.e., you don’t get to say uncle when someone’s tickling you and then use that opportunity to tickle them back), but they know they can say uncle and we’ll listen. And not listening when someone else says it is a punishable offense.

    For now, we also teach this rule to grandparents and friends and aunts & uncles. We won’t always be there to help explain the rule, but we hope that hearing us explain it will give them the confidence to put their own boundaries in place when that time comes.

    • daizygirl1979

       Love the idea of having a code word!!

    • Christine

      I remember my dad helping me to pick out a code word so that he knew when I was done with tickling or wrestling, or even being teased. Mine was monkey 🙂 I remember how respected I felt when he would stop immediately if I said monkey! I felt so cherished by my dad when he respected my boundaries. Keeping this in mind, we have taught our three that if they say, “no thank you”, then we stop right then. This also means that if their brother or sister says “no thank you”, then they need to respect that brother or sister and stop right away. This has helped us differentiate between the times when they are having fun but saying “stop, stop” without really meaning they want the tickling to stop. When they say “no thank you”, we know they are done!

  • Paula Claunch

    I’ve had to learn this one the hard way!  

    • Sarah Mae

      Oh friend, we all do!

  • daizygirl1979

    This is something I’ve tried very hard to get across to my 3 (ages 14, 9, and 5).  If someone says, “stop,” then it’s time to stop.

  • tracie stier-johnson


  • Kristin S.

    So true, Sarah Mae.  And beautifully put.

  • Stephanie’s Mommy Brain

    I try to follow this same rule. “No” or “stop” means right now. The first time. Not after repeating 3 or 4 times.

  • Carrie

    I have an older son and I will add that while I do listen and respect him in many situations I don’t always because I have what some might label a “stick in the mud”. He is sometimes an old man in a young body and because he truthfully will say NO to everything new or different or “fun” there are times I do push his boundaries and 9 times out of 10 he thanks me later and sometimes I ask forgiveness… :0). So while I agree we need to respect and listen… We also need to listen to our gut ( for myself I pray) when to push and when not… Otherwise he won’t ever experience anything! And lately having JUST turned 12 he is beginning to try things on his own now.. But it has been a hard long road for this mamma! ( so maybe in prayer there is a time to push). I still talk to him about why and I suppose that is part of the respect in our relationship… He is able to often trust me to try new things or have a little fun!

    • Mom-of-Seven

      Also having children that are hesitant — I agree.  There is a time to push them out of what is comfortable.   We try to teach our children when it is a “no” issue and that they can be heard and respected.  It does offer them protection in situations that can be very dark if they know and understand that they have times when NO is right and will be heard.  There are other times however that our children have had to yield.  It is a prayerful balance as Carrie suggested — There are dangers to always being able to say no if we are trying to teach trust in the Lord and a walk full of faith.  Does not God push us out of our comfort zones?  There are times when we must learn to yield when we would rather say no.

    • Jes

      I have somewhat of a “stick in the mud” sometimes too.  She wants to tickle her sisters, but doesn’t like being tickled herself.  And when she doesn’t like something, the corners of her mouth go clear down to her chin.  She’s prone to moping, the first to cry “boredom” or to whine about whatever.  The last to try new things, new foods, and what not.  In fact, lately it seems she likes less and less of what she’s always loved.  While I do respect her uniqueness (like i stop tickling when she asks), I always remind her that the world will not cater to her, that she must treat others how she wants to be treated, and that her negativity will do her the greatest disservice if she lets it continue to dominate her demeanor.  Its been frustrating lately, and I’m just praying that someday these truths will click!

  • Rebecca Busenitz

    I appreciate this. I never thought of that – that it’s how I earn my children’s trust. It’s so true. I’ve always been conscious of respecting my kids’ boundaries – but this really gets at the heart. Thanks for sharing this practical example, Sarah!

  • Matumjoy

    i do make a lot of mistakes here. thanks for the pointers

  • CarliAlice

    I think the most important thing here is trust. Clearly respecting your child ic critical (you must give it in order to receive it). But if they can’t trust you to listen now and stop when they say stop, then when they are teens they will not trust you with the larger stuff. And if they don’t trust you, they will trust someone else. I want my older kids to come to me with their problems and they learned that they could through the things that happened when they were younger.

  • skottydog

    Our 2 boys are growing up so fast, and it’s evident in their tastes and opinions. They are both clear on what they like and dislike, and we try to keep those opinions honored at all times. (unless they insist they can cross the street solo…then we’re NOT so flexible!)

    It’s fun to see the little men emerging from their toddler bodies between their declarations of “I don’t like that!”, and “I think I’ll pick that one!”.

    Boundaries begin early. Much earlier than I though they would. Man, it goes fast! We’re trying to enjoy the ride, and keep our hands in at all times! Unless it’s a tickle fight. Then, all bets are off!

  • A Protective Mom

    There were times in my family when tickling would turn to tears because no one would listen to no or stop.  Then one day there was a situation with a family member when darker issues arose and no and stop had no power there either.  That continued a long long time.  I am probably a little OVER the top now that when my kids say NO or STOP they will be listened to, sometimes I get a little angry when visiting family comes and want to tickle or tease or wrestle too long…  Our children need to be empowered by their words and wishes regarding their bodies and their choices so that if they ever need that power they will have it.  And yes they need to know that if someone else tells them NO or STOP  those words have power.  Sorry, rant over.

    • autiemama

      Your point is exactly why we need to respect children’s physical boundaries, teach them that their boundaries should be respected, and teach them to respect other’s boundaries as well.

  • Katie at Brighton Park

    This is a great post and a great reminder. We need our children to understand that when they say no or stop that it should be respected and mean something.  If they learn these boundaries are respected at home then they will also be able to stand up for themselves within these boundaries later.

  • Pam@ AnArtfulMom

    Very good advice.  This kind of parenting  will result in kids who respect others too.

  • Domestic Bliss Diaries

    I completely agree!! However, the men in my family sometimes like to playfully aggregate my son (hubby included). Do I ask them (even my hubby) to stop? After all, I tell my son to respect others’ “no” or “stop”. I feel like I should be his advocate when he makes his “no” or “stop” request known and it isn’t respected… Especially be because he’s three years old and those requests are not taken seriously because of his age.

    • Sarah Mae

      I would say something privately to my husband for sure.

  • Karen

    Such a simple reminder that is overlooked by adults every day.  Thanks for the post!

  • Sharon O

    This is so important. Often we act towards the little people in much different ways than we would a big person.  We touch their heads, we tickle or grab in a fun way. Would we do that to an adult without asking? No we wouldn’t. I went to an abuse training session one time and it was a huge eye opener for me how we treat the little people. They have the right to say ‘No’. They have the right to say ‘don’t.’ Permission goes a long way and if they say ‘I don’t want to get wet, that should be heard’. Boundaries, respect and even honor is crucial in the lives of children. WE are the examples they learn from. 

  • IfyAnyichukwu GloriousTreasure

    I love dis

  • Mama Zen


  • Shay

    I wish someone would have told that to my brothers when I was growing up!  Like, not pushing your sister out the car window, smothering her under a bean bag or tickling her until she wet her pants!  It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, as a child and vowed never to repeat.

  • Rachel

    Such a good point to read!  I’m the same way about tickling and other things, I remember feeling so helpless as a kid when I didn’t have a say!

    Thankful for you and your writing!

  • Betty

    Absolutely excellent article. This touches on so many areas. The lack of respect manifests in so many areas, as can be seen from all the comments below. Thank you for the great post!!!

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