The most common topic that has been coming into the website lately is how to deal with disrespectful children. It seem like parents are literally at their wits end trying to figure out what to do to deal with the disrespectful behavior that they get from their children.
Our Own Behaviour Is The Key
- Spend regular time with your kids. Turn off the computer, PDA, cell phone, television, and any other distraction that will prevent you from connecting with your child during this focused time. It may seem strange and uncomfortable at first, but in time it will begin to feel right. Be 100% present and engage in conversation about a topic that is important to them.
- Be a good listener. Try to listen to your children without any judgment of whether or not what they are saying is good or bad, right or wrong. Understand that whatever they have to say is true for them in that moment. Just listen to them without interruption by just letting them talk. Asking questions shows them that you take an interest in what they are saying and that you want to understand more about who they are and what is important to them. A little understanding goes a long way when you are trying to repair a disrespectful relationship with your child.
- Be impeccable with your word. This means following through with everything that you say. Keep your promises, agreements, and commitments. One broken promise, no matter how big or small, can lead to a response that will seem disrespectful. To break a promise sub-consciously communicates to your child that “you don’t care”. Even if it is something small, all promises and agreements are a BIG deal.Same goes for discipline. If you warn them of a certain consequence for a particular behavior and then you don’t follow through, it sub-consciously communicates that you don’t take it seriously. If you are not going to take it seriously, then why should they?
Here are some questions to ask yourself to see how you are doing:
- Are you spending any 100% focused time with your child each day?
- When you do spend some time with them, is it doing something that THEY enjoy doing? Is there any talking involved?
- Are you listening to your child without judgment? Are they afraid to be wrong in front of you?
- Do you keep ALL of your promises?
- Do you follow through with your communicated consequences for bad behavior?
Various factors may be related to children behaving disrespectfully, such as being frustrated by limitations and wanting to test limits. Children may also copy the behavior of other people around them, or use disrespectful behavior to get a reaction: laughs, shouting, shock – either way it’s attention.
They may feel they’re being treated unfairly or are not being listened to – this can particularly be the case with backchat or mumbled comments. Whatever the case, there are some simple ways to ward off disrespectful behavior.
How to react
First, parents should ignore minor disrespectful behavior, such as backchat or sulking. Say “I will not tolerate being talked to like that” and do not respond until your child is communicating appropriately.
For behavior which is more offensive or rude, you can use the naughty step technique. Before taking your child to the naughty step, make sure you give one warning clearly stating why the behavior is disrespectful and not acceptable. “In our family, we don’t talk to each other rudely.”
And when your child is rude, don’t laugh as this will give your child positive attention and encourage them to continue being rude.
However much you cringe when you see or hear your child being disrespectful in public, resist the temptation to correct them in front of others. Instead, take your child aside and describe the behavior you disapproved of and provide guidance. For example, “I noticed you ignored the librarian when she asked you to stop talking. She seemed upset by your lack of respect. Either you can act more politely or we will have to leave story time.”
How to prevent disrespectful behavior
Children learn how to respond appropriately by watching and imitating those around them – it’s called modeling. The most effective way to get your child to act respectfully is to treat them with respect and also to let them see you act respectfully towards other people. Remember actions speak louder than words!
Let your child know exactly what behavior is not acceptable by including statements about respectful behavior in your house rules, for example, “no swearing”, “at dinner time, we sit nicely at the table.”
Teach your child social manners by giving continual, gentle reminders about appropriate communication and behavior. When adults provide clear information about appropriate behavior, kids learn what’s expected of them. For example, “When you leave a friend’s house, it’s good to say ‘thank you for having me’. People like it when you do that,” or, “When I’m talking to someone I expect you to wait until I’ve finished before asking me a question, or if you’re finding it hard to wait you could say ‘excuse me’.”
Pay close attention to your tone of voice, words and body language, not just with your child, but with everyone else around you. If your child hears you using put-downs, making snide comments, using sarcasm, swearing or shouting, or sees you rolling your eyes or making faces at people, you’re not modeling a respectful attitude. Be polite, courteous, considerate and well mannered, and you’ll soon see that attitude from your child.
Make sure that you use good manners and a respectful tone when correcting disrespectful behavior. Firmly state your disapproval by commenting descriptively and asserting expectations. Tell your child what you want, not what you don’t want. Rather than “Cut the backchat!” say, “Jamie, I heard you being rude to me under your breath. I don’t like that kind of behavior. If you’re feeling frustrated please tell me directly.”
Make sure you respond positively to good behavior. When your child behaves nicely, respond with praise, approval and affection. Every time your child uses the type of manners and behavior you want to see more of, comment approvingly. For example, “Thank you for waiting for me to finishing talking on the phone before asking me for a drink,” or, “I noticed that you asked your brother before taking his toy. That was very considerate.”
Keep an eye on the type of communication your child is exposed to. Swearing on TV, negative attitudes in video games and even disrespectful lyrics in music can all be absorbed by your child and may filter into their vocabulary and behavior.
Make sure you listen to your child and enable them to give their opinion or share how they feel. A child who feels listened to is less likely to try to have the last word. You may want to try using a thought box to encourage communication.
Backchat is often associated with your little one’s resentment at being asked to do things she doesn’t want to do, or not getting her way. Minimize this frustration by using minimal, clear commands (avoid long lectures) and by offering choice. “Would you like to tidy your room before dinner or after?”
Why Good Kids Act Cruel: The Hidden Truth about the Pre-Teen Years
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