An image of a father and son conversing at a dinner table

Playing down disrespect 

Sometimes our language can carry hidden meanings. The things we say in front of young people can be interpreted in ways we don’t intend, giving the message that this behaviour is okay. 

Reflecting on our own attitudes, which might excuse disrespect, and being aware of the things we say to young people is the first step towards making a change. 

By talking to young people about respect, we can have a positive influence on their attitudes and behaviours as they grow into adults. It’s important to be clear about what is acceptable, and model this ourselves. 

Use the Excuse Interpreter to help you avoid using seemingly harmless phrases that might send mixed messages to young people about respect. 

Discover the hidden meanings of common expressions that can excuse disrespectful behaviour.

This resource is available in different formats, including PDF and DOCX

  • As parents, guardians, carers, and family members, we want the best for our young people. We want them to understand right and wrong, to respect others and themselves.


    All adults, including teachers, coaches, employers, and role models, can have a positive influence on young people and set the standard for what is and isn’t acceptable, right from the start.


    Together we can:

    • Reflect on our own understanding of respect
    • Be more aware of situations when we may excuse other people’s behaviour and say something when it happens
    • Take steps to understand the type of information young people are engaging with online and the disrespectful words and statements they may be exposed to. See the Hidden Trends of Disrespect discussion guide
    • Start having conversations about respect, values and behaviours with our young people, and continue to talk about these topics as they grow up
    • Model respect by being aware of what we do and say, and the impacts that can have on others