What This Is Like from Your Perspective

You try so hard to be calm and patient with your kids. You want to treat them with respect, but when they

ignore you or

roll their eyes at you or

…speak to you rudely,

You can’t help but become livid! You don’t want to (or deserve) to be treated like that… and you certainly don’t want your kids to treat others that way… but you don’t know how to get them to stop!


What This Is Like from Your Child’s Perspective

Children are told what to do all the time. And everyone implies that the adult perspective matters more than theirs. (Who cares that they were playing a game? They have to get off of their device. Who cares that they wanted to go to a friend’s house? They’re not allowed. Who cares that they just spent all day in school? They have to come home and do more school work.)

Sometimes they don’t handle those feelings of helplessness very well. Instead, when another adult says (yet again) that they have to do something they don’t want to, they

… try to get a little control back by ignoring you or

… they roll their eyes in frustration or

…their big emotions come out in disrespectful ways.

Kids aren’t mature, and they don’t handle their feelings maturely. And telling them all of the reasons that that is unacceptable only makes them feel (and act) worse.



How It Usually Goes (In Your Head)

When Your Child Is Disrespectful

(That Prevents You From Staying Calm)

Scenario: Conrad and his dad are at a party. Conrad’s dad tells him that he needs to get his shoes on so that they can head home. Instead of getting his shoes on, Conrad mimics his dad. 

Dad (thinks): Is he kidding me?! He’s mimicking me?
Dad (yelling at Conrad): CONRAD!

Conrad (acting innocent): What?

Dad (thinks): Oh lovely… Now he’s pretending that he didn’t do anything. I can’t let him get away with that.
Dad (to Conrad): You just mimicked me when I asked you to get your shoes on!

Conrad: I didn’t. I was just repeating you.

Dad (thinks): He was NOT repeating me. It was obvious to everyone here.
Dad (to Conrad): And now you’re LYING? What’s gotten into you?

Conrad: Nothing.

Dad (thinks): He needs to learn to take responsibility for his actions.
Dad (to Conrad): That wasn’t NOTHING, Conrad. You were being disrespectful and I will not take that. Go get your shoes on NOW.

Conrad gets up, exaggeratedly slowly. 

Dad (thinks): He is acting like such a snot. And people are noticing. This is mortifiying!
Dad (gritting his teeth, quietly to Conrad): This behavior is unacceptable, Conrad. You will NOT be going to your friend’s house tomorrow because of this behavior.

Conrad (screams): DAD! That’s NOT FAIR!

Dad (thinks): Not fair?! He acts like a brat and expects me to be fair?!
Dad (to Conrad):  You need to learn there are consequences for your actions.

Conrad (screams): You’re the worst! I’m NOT getting my shoes on now! No way.

Dad (thinks): People are starting to watch us. I need to show him that I’m the boss here!
Dad (to Conrad, full of anger):  Conrad, GET ON YOUR SHOES. WE ARE LEAVING.

Conrad (cries and makes no move to get his shoes on): You’re the worst! I’m NOT getting my shoes on now! No way.

Dad (thinks): Oh I’ll show him he NEEDS to do what I say…

Conrad and his dad continue to fight in front of everyone. Conrad is too big for his dad to pick him up, so he ends up having to wait until Conrad is calm enough to walk to the car on his own. To spite his father, he leaves without his shoes on. 

How It Could Go (In Your Head)

When Your Child Is Disrespectful

(That Helps You to Stay Calm)

 Scenario: Conrad and his dad are at a party. Conrad’s dad tells him that he needs to get his shoes on so that they can head home. Instead of getting his shoes on, Conrad mimics his dad. 


Dad (thinks): Is he kidding me?! He’s mimicking me? That is incredibly rude! (Pauses.) OK wait, I know that rude behavior is a sure sign of Yuck. And I don’t need to get sucked into his Yuck. I’m the adult here.
Dad (to Conrad): Haha, Conrad. Is that what I sound like?!

Conrad (rudely): Yes.

Dad (thinks): Something’s obviously bothering him. I do NOT like his behavior, but I also need to show him what it looks like to stay calm when you don’t like what’s happening.
Dad (to Conrad): Is something bothering you, Con Man?

Conrad (still rudely): YES. You.

Dad (thinks): Wait, he’s still being rude to me even when I’m staying calm!… (Pauses.) OK, he’s upset because we have to leave. That’s what this is. And he’s not immediately going to snap out of it just because I’m calm. But if I lose it, things will DEFINITELY get worse. So I can act mature here.
Dad (to Conrad): You don’t want to leave, do you?

Conrad (firmly): No.

Dad (thinks): OK, that’s clear. But we have to leave. And I know that if I want him to keep moving, I need him to feel safe. This behavior isn’t OK with me, but I will address it later, NOT now.
Dad (to Conrad): I hear ya, Bud. I know you were having fun. I’m sorry we have to go.

Conrad: We don’t HAVE to go. You can say we could stay.

Dad (thinks): I can see that he’s trying everything in his power to get his way. That’s him trying to get control because he’s still in Yuck. I’m not taking the bait.
Dad (to Conrad): I wish I could. This time we can’t.

Conrad: Then I’m not getting on my shoes.

Dad (thinks): Ugh, isn’t this OVER yet? I guess not… Clearly I have to help him through this. I know I can either make him laugh (that type of connection and stimulation usually pulls him out of his resistance), or I can get really firm and let him release his Yuck….I think making him laugh at this point will take less energy than going through that Yuck release. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot quieter! BUT… if I can’t make him laugh, I do just have to get firm and let him get upset.
Dad (to Conrad, in a playful way): OK, but I’m going to grab your shoes and feed them to the pet alligator that I saw out back…

Conrad (starts to smile).

Dad continues with his lightheartedness, knowing the situation would have gone MUCH differently if he’d lost his cool. ​He makes a note to talk to Conrad about his disrespect later, when Conrad has cooled down and he address it in a way that Conrad can hear.  


What YOU NEED (Proactively)

For This To Work Better In the Moment

Proactive actions will make so much difference in whether you are able to stay calm in the moment.

You will only be able to stay CALM if:

a.) your biological or emotional “needs accounts” are met (otherwise you won’t have a reserve to draw from and you’ll immediately go into Yuck) and

a.) you recognize and respect that your kids have have a different perspective and agenda than you do, and that their perspective and agenda matter to them.

When you make sure your own needs are met and you set realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, you are more likely to be able to stay calm.