The Show Respect Boot Camp: Authoritative vs Gentle Parenting

Ah, summertime! Are your hair strands rebelling due to the kids' disrespectful behavior? Are they still exhibiting those unwanted behaviors absorbed from school? Well, today, we're here to give those issues a complete makeover! Let's delve into the realm of authoritative vs gentle parenting styles and discuss how they shape the behavior of our children.

What is Respect?

Does summer have you pulling your hair out?

First, let's take a moment to ponder what does ‘respect' mean to us. In the words of Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” Respect is how we perceive and treat another person – through listening, obeying, being polite, and more. Generations have grappled with the belief that the next one falls short on respect. Yet, it's crucial to distinguish between an authoritarian parenting style and a gentle approach when teaching respect.

Authoritative vs Gentle Parenting

In the authoritarian style, parents exert their dominance over their children. Kids have no room to voice their opinion; instead, they are expected to comply with every rule laid down by their parents, with consequences awaiting their disobedience. More often, these consequences lean towards punishment rather than correction.

Contrarily, authoritative or gentle parenting balances rules and consequences with a strong emphasis on teaching children about expectations. Children are encouraged to express their thoughts about everyday tasks. Gentle parenting aims to preempt unfavorable behavior with strategies such as praise and rewards to promote good behavior. Essentially – you are teaching your child to recognize when they are praised rather than when they are disciplined. They will strive to be praised.

Authoritative vs gentle parenting

So, how does a ‘Show Respect Boot Camp' fit into all of this?

As an avid advocate for Gentle Parenting, I firmly believe that children can be communicated with and guided to become their best selves. Simple methods that clarify the rewards and consequences of their behavior set the foundation for their desire to behave well.

Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that children will not always respond consistently to one parenting style. They will test their boundaries. This is where ‘boot camps' come in, serving as short, intense periods focused on correcting a particular behavior. This may seem more authoritarian, but the purpose is to grab your child's attention, paving the way for the wanted behavior.

Let's Talk About Disrespect

Speaking of disrespect, it's a terrible thing. Disrespect towards anyone—child, teenager, adult, or elder—is a gross display of poor character. Cultivating respect and kindness isn't challenging, yet somehow, it has become convoluted over the years.

In our household, the Golden Rule reigns supreme: “Treat Others How You Want Them to Treat You.” When my children retort with, “But they started it,” I promptly remind them that we set our standards. We are the bigger person, treating others with kindness and respect, regardless of their behavior. If disrespect continues, they are advised to remove themselves from the situation.

The golden rule

Does any of this resonate with you? Perhaps your child isn't paying heed to their coach during sports practice, or they're replying with a blatant “no” to your requests. These are signs of disrespect. Disrespect diminishes the other person, making them feel inadequate or insignificant. If left unchecked, it can become a habitual behavior into their adulthood.

Prep Work for the Show Respect Boot Camp

Before we begin our Show Respect Boot Camp, let's make sure to complete the prep work. We must identify disrespectful behaviors in our children and decide on suitable consequences. This could range from taking away a cherished item, time-outs for a reset, or assigning chores. Our boot camp might share similarities with the 3-Day Boot Camp for Correcting Bad Behavior, but it has its own unique parts.

The essence of the Show Respect Boot Camp is to ensure your child knows you will not tolerate disrespect any longer, all while maintaining your composure and and compassion. As you correct their behavior, you must specify the disrespect you disapprove of. Most importantly, communicate effectively with your child each time you correct them, detailing what actions were disrespectful and how they can avoid future consequences.

Make sure to breathe!


Our Show Respect Boot Camp can be completed with the consequence that you feel is right for your child and the behavior that you are trying to correct. For instance, during our recent boot camp, I initially removed their tablet access. If they continued their disrespectful behavior, which admittedly they did, a time-out for a reset was the next step. If you find these methods ineffective, get creative. In our case, we curtailed bedtime toys, pool time, and even the number of stuffed animals they could cuddle in bed.

Remember, this is a boot camp, a quick and intense change to help correct behavior in as little time as possible. While there are overnight boot camps for children, we are most certainly not talking about those. And if you need different consequences to give your child, we have those available too.

Setting Boundaries

You will also need to be prepared to correct any unwanted behavior during the consequence that you choose. If you choose the reset method as your consequence, set clear expectations about their behavior during this reset period. Make sure to convey these expectations and how long the reset will last.

Communication, I can't stress this enough, is key. Discuss with your child how they were disrespectful and your expectations for respectful behavior. If you've taken something away from them, require them to earn it back. I recommend starting with the following respectful behaviors:

  • First-time obedience
  • Respectful language (“Yes, ma'am/No, ma'am”)
  • Being a good sibling
  • Being a good student
  • Listening more than talking
  • Sharing more than taking
  • Helping more than demanding
  • Being a team player (In our house, we're Team [Your Family's Last Name])
  • And so on…

As you begin to see your child demonstrating respect, reward them! These rewards can be as simple as verbal praise and thank you's, recognizing their first-time obedience, or acknowledging their good practice. A high-five or thumbs-up goes a long way!

When the Unwanted Behavior Returns

Every now and then, you might need to revisit the boot camp approach. My children responded to this boot camp within a day, but it's natural for kids to test boundaries over time. When that happens, revert to your initial corrections and consequences. Remember, you've done this before, and you can do it again!

Here's something to remember – while we often focus on gentle parenting, boot camps serve as an attention grabber to your children. If your gentle attempts to foster respect haven't been successful, it's time to get intentional and yield results.

Boot camps are short and intense, designed for quick outcomes. It's perfectly fine to be firm and confident with your children during this period. It won't undo all the gentle parenting techniques you've implemented. Instead, your children will quickly recognize this new tactic, realizing that you mean business. If they crave the return of your gentle parenting, they'll soon adhere to the boundaries and rules you've established.

Unwanted behaviors may return - don't worry, just do the boot camp again.

The Show Respect Boot Camp Works

Think of it this way – gentle parenting, at its core, is about showing respect to your children as you raise them. If that respect isn't reciprocated, it's time to take decisive action. The benefits will be seen by you, your children, and those around your family. So, prepare well, set a time to begin the boot camp journey, and repeat as needed.

You've got this! Remember, parenting is a journey, not a destination, and we learn as we go.

Final Thoughts

The Show Respect Boot Camp isn't about demanding blind obedience, but it is about drawing a clear line between acceptable and disrespectful behavior. That's why the boot camp works best when paired with your usual gentle parenting style. After the boot camp, you'll likely find that your gentle parenting methods become even more effective.

In the end, the beauty of parenting is its flexibility. We don't have to be tied down to one particular parenting style. Sometimes, the situation calls for more authoritative action; other times, it requires a softer touch. That's where our boot camp comes in – a tool you can use when your child needs a stronger push toward respectful behavior.

Above all, remember to keep the lines of communication open. Discuss your expectations and their behavior. Make sure they understand the changes happening around them. Help them to see that this isn’t a punishment but a learning experience.

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