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What to Do When Your Child Is Disrespectful
What to Do When Your Child Is Disrespectful

As a parent, you can count on your kids demonstrating disrespectful behavior from time to time. Kids push your buttons to find out what works, and if you don’t nip bad behavior in the bud, it will never stop. Here’s how to cut disrespect off at the pass:

  1. Get to the root of the problem. Just like adults, kids get out of sorts. They may simply be tired, hungry, or bored. They may not even know what they’re stressed about. Find out what’s going on. Say, “Honey/sweetie, I know you’re upset and disappointed that I said no/asked you to do that, but your reaction seems pretty over-the-top. Is there something going on that I can help you with?” Find out what’s precipitating this whole thing, and then talk through their options. Say something like, “I know you’re feeling exasperated, but yelling, screaming, and being nasty to your family isn’t an option. So let’s work together to find another option.”

  2. Ignore your child until he or she is behaving better. If you yell and act upset, then the focus is on you being a raging maniac. Tell your child, “When you’ve calmed down, I’ll be in the other room,” and then leave the room.

  3. Model your expectations. If your kid sees Mommy and Daddy being snarky, mean, and irritated with each other, then your child is going to follow suit. You can’t expect your child to have a different set of rules than he or she sees. You have to watch your own mouth and attitude.

  4. Give him or her a choice. Kids love to think they have power, so give them a choice. Eat the peas or the carrots. Mow the lawn or do the dishes. That way, instead of thinking about the thing you want them to do, you get them thinking about the thing they want to do.

  5. Make sure consequences are clear and tightly associated with a particular action. Not putting toys away means they don’t get to play with them after their nap. Overdue books at the library means the money comes out of their allowance. Kids will test you until they know the limit. Make sure they understand what the limit is, and then follow through.

  6. Don’t ever engage in a debate. Give your answer, and then look your child straight in the eye. Draw the line, and defend it quietly with a look.

  7. Compliment good behavior. When you see your child controlling themselves, waiting their turn, or explaining their point of view without becoming unglued, compliment the heck out of them. Say, “I am so impressed that you held it together and explained yourself. That was terrific.” That kind of thing gets better results than yelling and screaming when they do something wrong.

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Tags: Motherhood-Fatherhood, Parenting, Tips, Values
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