What do your kids do that you consider disrespectful? How do you feel when your kids are being disrespectful? Disrespectful behavior tends to trigger strong emotions so it quickly catches your attention.
Some disrespectful behavior you may see from your kids include:
- Talking back
- Ignoring you
- Hitting you
- Refusing reasonable requests
- Rolling their eyes at you
Nobody likes being treated disrespectfully! You cannot force your children to treat you with respect. However, how you respond to disrespectful behavior can make a big difference in how your kids behave in the future.
Setting Boundaries on Disrespectful Behavior
A boundary establishes the line between what behaviors are okay and what are not. Disrespectful behavior from your kids crosses the boundary into behavior that is not okay.
Have you ever seen a young child hit their parent while the parent ignores what is happening? Ignoring disrespectful behavior sends the unspoken message is that it is okay to act that way.
What if your child hit you? How could you set a boundary? One way is to take your child’s hands in yours, look straight in her eyes declaring “It is not ok to hit me. Our rule is you hit, you sit. So you need to sit right here for three minutes.”
When your kids are acting disrespectfully, there are often big feelings behind their behavior. Their feelings are not right or wrong. The way they chose to express their feelings crosses the boundary if it is disrespectful.
You can always acknowledge their feelings while setting a limit on their behavior. Suppose your child is angry and says “You’re so unfair! I hate you!” You might respond “I know you’re angry. You need to find other words to tell me about your anger.”
How do you handle your child being disrespectful in a public situation? You can choose to delay fully dealing with the disrespectful behavior. You might say “That is not okay. We’ll talk about it when we get home.” When you do get home be sure to follow up on it.
Holding Kids Accountable
It is important to hold your kids accountable for their behavior especially when they cross boundaries. Brené Brown discusses this in
her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
. Brown writes “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.”
For example if your child leaves dirty dishes in the living room, yelling at him for being lazy is attacking him as a person. Holding him accountable could be done by saying “I notice that you left some dishes in the living room. I’ll be happy to start making dinner just as soon as your dishes are cleaned up.” Then go do something you enjoy like reading or gardening to help yourself avoid nagging him.
You teach your kids how to treat you. By refusing to tolerate disrespectful behavior, you teach your children to treat you with respect. When they treat you with respect, they are far more likely to treat other adults also with respect. Respectful behavior will serve your kids well in life and being together will be much more enjoyable!