5 Ways to Defuse Disrespect

All kids are disrespectful and bratty sometimes. It may be unintentional or perfectly planned to press our buttons. It is one of my personal challenges to keep emotions from taking these interchanges down the wrong path. We do so much for our kids and it is easy to feel unappreciated when they talk to us in a way that is rude or unkind. So what does work? I know from many failed real time experiments that lecturing does not. Nor does withdrawing my attention and disconnecting from my child. However, it is not hopeless, here are some tips than can help to defuse disrespect:

1.  Empathize if possible. Disrespect often has its roots in fear, frustration or anger.  Each child has his or her trigger. Understand what your child is really saying during homework when he shouts, “You are not helping me at all!!” It is likely that the emotions are too much and your child does not know how else to handle them. It is so tempting to respond with anger, “Fine, do it yourself.” But dig deep for your compassion and offer empathy instead, “I hear that you are frustrated but it is not ok to talk to me that way. Would a quick walk around the block (or a hug, piece of gum, etc) help?” This is not easy to do but you will be amazed at the transformation.

2.  Know which behaviors you can overlook.  Maybe the occasional eye rolling or sarcastic “Seriously, Mom!?!” can be ignored in the kid that generally follows the family rules. Keep your standards but don’t take it too personally in an otherwise pleasant and respectful kid.

3.  Notice good behaviors. Give specific praise. For example, “I am so proud of the way that you helped your brother clean up without me asking twice” instead of “Good job.” Fill up your kids’ buckets so that they don’t feel the need to lash out as much. Constant correction and criticisms lead to resentment and disrespect.

4.  Try not to generalize. They are searching for your weak spot and a reaction. Stay focused on the current behavior and don’t drag every other concern about your child into this conversation. The mind chatter can sounds something like, “omg this kid is so rude, he is never going to find a job or someone that loves him.” With these fears barking at us, it is difficult to stay positive. Force yourself to see the current behavior and address the issue at hand and STOP FUTURIZING!

5.  Model the behavior you are encouraging in your children. Use a phrase that will become a mantra for your child. For example, “Our family treats others with respect, always.” Now, check your tone. Are you impatient and brusque? Or are you treating your little one as a valued member of the family?

Talk to your pediatrician for more ideas or if your child’s behavior seems unmanageable.