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Dealing with a Disrespectful Child

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You go to the supermarket and your child asks you for candy. You gently but firmly tell him no and he throws a royal fit. He tells you he hates you and screams about what a bad mom you are. All the while you can’t pay for your cart of groceries fast enough.

Every parent has been through this. Even the best children are not perfect all the time. But disrespectful behavior does not need to be tolerated. It’s up to us as parents to teach our children about showing respect. If your child is being disrespectful, arm yourself with these tips to help reduce the drama in your life.

Empathize
Small children especially need help to understand the feelings they feel. This doesn’t mean you need to agree with how your child feels but letting them know that you’re trying to relate will go a long way.

Watch the clock
Even the best children can act out and if your child is mostly good, it might be a problem of timing. If you normally serve snack mid-morning or put your child down for a nap and you’ve dragged your child out with you to run errands, she might be acting out because she’s hungry. When on the go, always take a sippy cup filled with water or juice and some easy snacks along in your bag. If your child is usually tired at a certain time, try to keep from going out and either do it before or after a nap.

Be a master of calmness
When your child does have an outburst, resist the urge to shout back at them. It will only send your child the message that screaming is okay and doesn’t help teach them respect.

When rudeness has occurred, don’t ever try to correct the behavior in the moment. Your child is not listening then. You must wait until later when they are calm. Sit them down when they are receptive and talk to them about the bad behavior. Word things in a way that make it feel like you’re part of a team. For instance, if your child flipped out about candy at the store, you can say “You seemed very upset at the store when I wouldn’t buy you candy. Let’s talk about a different way to let me know how you feel about things.”

Be sure to communicate with your child that their words and actions hurt you but without using blaming language. Start sentences with “I felt…” This is also the time to apologize if you were rude when your child got the best of you. Try making a pact together to work on your behavior and share your feelings in a more positive way. It will take a lot of work but if you remain consistent with your words and actions, you will see an improvement in the way your child behaves.

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