“You’re not the boss of me!” your child yells as they stick out their tongue and run away.
Furious, you yell back, “How dare you talk to me like that! You little…”
This pattern is nothing new. Your child has a bad habit of disrespect.
It’s something you’ve been trying to nip in the bud for a while now, but no matter how many times you try to “set them straight,” send them to their room, or take away their video games, the behavior continues.
The disrespect is not OK. And your kids need to know you’re serious. So, how can you put an end to this once and for all?
The shocking solution.
But not the sarcastic, condescending, criticizing you. (You’ve tried that already and it hasn’t worked.)
This solution calls for the calm, confident, empathetic you.
The YOU who doesn’t panic when their child acts immaturely because you understand their brain is still in development, and there will be times when it is hard for them to make a good decision in the heat of the moment.
The YOU who isn’t worried about “showing them who’s boss” because you know you’re in charge. You don’t have to give harsh punishments or empty threats to prove it, you set reasonable boundaries to help your kids feel safe and secure.
The YOU who responds with love because you know that conflict is inevitable in families, and you want your kids to feel safe enough to share their feelings and know that you will listen, even if the two of you don’t always agree.
This YOU can put an end to disrespect from your kids.
Why this solution works.
Think about it. Imagine your favorite teacher when you were in school…
This person probably knew much more than just your name. They knew that you hated sitting in the front row, that you needed a little extra time to complete word problems, and that you had a cat named Mr. Pickles at home.
But, this teacher wasn’t all fun and games. They had rules for the classroom, expectations for their students, and graded fairly. When the class became rowdy or loud, they didn’t have to stand on their chair and yell or dole out extra homework as a punishment, they were able to direct the class back to order with calm confidence.
Because you respected them.
Did you respect them because they DEMANDED respect? No! The respect was built out of the relationship. This teacher KNEW you, they treated you with firmness and empathy, which led you to want to give it back in return.
It’s the same with your children.
When your kids feel connected and respected by you, they are more likely to respond in kind.
Three tips to decrease the disrespect from your kids.
- Engage and Connect: Spend quality time with your kids on a daily basis. Ask questions about their life (and listen to the answers!), play games they enjoy, or simply be together without nagging, correcting or directing.
- Model the Behavior You’d Like to See: Take note of the words you use, listen to your tone of voice, and watch your body language. If you don’t want to see or hear it from your kids, eliminate it from your own posture and vocabulary first.
- Embrace Learning and Imperfection: Old habits die hard. Apologize when you make a mistake, allow “do-overs” in which you or your child are able to restate a phrase in a more respectful way, and problem solve together.
These strategies may seem uncomfortable at first. You may feel like it’s “not working” because you don’t see an immediate change in your child’s behavior.
Give it time.
Everyone wants to be respected, even kids.
And when they start to feel respected, they will let you know by giving you respect in return.
About the Author notes from Traci Smith: Nicole Schwarz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and owner of the website Imperfect Families, a parenting website that includes a ton of common sense advice on parenting. I find her tone to be positive, non-judgmental and straightforward. In addition to the blog, you can join the 10,000+ people in the Imperfect Families Facebook Community or follow her very helpful Pinterest board.
Special Offer Right now! Nicole is starting a class called Communication for Imperfect Families, a seven week course that looks absolutely phenomenal. Check it out and consider investing in your family this summer!
Fun Fact! Though we share very similar philosophies and professional goals in adulthood, I actually know Nicole because we were childhood friends! One of my favorite memories of our friendship is spending hours (yes hours) passing notes back and forth through a laundry chute. We would take turns being upstairs (to me, the preferred position!) So fun. Congratulations on the success of Imperfect Families, Nicole, and thank you so much for stopping by!