We continue with our series on how to raise respectful children, if you haven’t done so already, head back to my previous article to read the first 3 tips I shared.
4. Identify The Cause For Disrespect
When our child disrespects us by yelling at us, talking back, hitting, bitting… we should first try to figure out what is causing him to act this way.
- Is it because he is harboring some resentment towards us from something that happened in the past? Remember the story I shared before about my 9 year old blatantly yelling “NO” to me?
- Is it because he doesn’t have the ability to communicate his feelings? Does he lack the vocabulary or knowledge to describe his feelings?
- Is it because he doesn’t have the tools to work through the situation and his feelings are overwhelming him?
- Is it because it is developmentally appropriate for him to be testing boundaries?
- Is it because that is what we have modeled for him?
- Is it because our boundaries and rules have been shaky, and he has learned that he can get what he wants by pushing back long enough?
What is the cause for the disrespect? Children aren’t born with the intention to disrespect their parents. There’s always a reason behind their behavior. The tough part of parenting here is to stay calm, figure out the reason behind the behavior, and then address that reason.
5. Kind And Firm Discipline
Many of us fall in the trap of becoming too permissive when we try to follow conscious and positive parenting. However, positive parenting calls for having kind but firm boundaries and rules. Set few, but clear and firm boundaries, and stick to them all the time. This way your child will know what to expect in every situation.
When the boundaries are broken, respond with kindness, acknowledging feelings, needs and wants, while still maintaining the boundary. Yelling and punishing in response to theirs is not helpful and often only escalates behavior.
If you are in public, don’t discipline them for everyone to see, don’t shout at them, admonish them loudly, criticize them or correct them in front of others, or embarrass them. Instead, pull them aside in a calm manner, and quietly address the disrespect or misbehavior making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with consequences if necessary.
For example, before you take your toddler to a playground remind him of acceptable and not-acceptable behavior (i.e. hitting, pushing, taking away toys…), and the consequences (i.e. leaving the playground). If your toddler breaks those rules in the playground, pull him aside and remind him what’s expected once. If the disrespectful behavior continues, calmly follow through and leave the playground.
Your toddler will learn that your word is to be trusted, that the boundaries are firm, that his actions and decisions have consequences, and that despite his behavior he is loved and respected.
6. Apologize When You Mess Up
A mature, respectful grownup takes responsibility and apologizes when he or she makes mistakes. That’s what we hope our children to learn, and that’s what we should expect from ourselves.
Parents who respect their kids, acknowledge their mistakes, and apologize for them, even when that means that their kids were right and they were wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, or with making mistakes. It’s important to show our kids that we are fully capable of not only recognizing when we are incorrect, but showing them how we learn from our mistakes, learn the lesson, correct our behaviors, and become a better version of ourselves.
I mess up more than I would like to admit. I sometimes lose my temper, let the stress of the moment overcome my better judgement, yell, bend my rules because I exhausted… I sometimes am not the best example for my daughters. However, every time I mess up, I apologize. I don’t let them go to sleep without letting them know that I acknowledge my shortcomings, and that I’m working to avoid them in the future.
7. Praise Respectful Behavior
Don’t miss any chance to let your child know when he’s acting well, and be specific when doing so. Go back to my previous post and read all about how to point out and encourage your child’s respectful behavior.
Much love, Diana-