When Your Child Acts Disrespectful When They’re Asked to Do Something

 

What This Is Like from a Parent’s Perspective


You have rules and boundaries in your home, and that’s a good thing. But sometimes when you tell your child something they don’t want to hear, they become disrespectful…

…They may tell you that they don’t have to listen to you.

…They may try to run away from you.

…They may even tell you how much they hate you.

You aren’t sure how to enforce your rules without your child becoming downright nasty.

 

What This Is Like From a Child’s Perspective

 

Children know there are rules because they have to follow them all day long.

And when they’re constantly being told what to do… eventually it puts them into Yuck.

And they start turning their Yuck out on other people by acting disrespectful.

Sometimes it’s hard for them to care about other people’s perspective when they feel like no one cares about theirs.

 

 

 

How It Usually Goes When

Kids Become Disrespectful When They Are Asked To Do Something

 

Scenario: Audrey’s family is going to visit some friends. In the past, Audrey has been mean one of the daughters in that family, so Audrey’s mom reminds her that she needs to be nicer to her.

 

MomAudrey, you need to be nice to Cindy when we go to the Taylors’ house this weekend.

Audrey: Leave me alone!

Mom: Audrey, it’s important that you be nice to the Taylors’ daughter. She is younger than you, and you were so mean to her last time…

Audrey: I was not mean! She was mean to me!

Mom: That’s not what her mom told me…

Audrey: Well her mom is stupid! And so are you!

Mom: Audrey! Do not speak to me like that!

(The argument continues until both Mom and Audrey feel awful.)

 

How It Could Go Instead When

Kids Become Disrespectful When They Are Asked To Do Something

 

Scenario: Audrey’s family is going to visit some friends. In the past, Audrey has been mean one of the daughters in that family, so Audrey’s mom reminds her that she needs to be nicer to her.

 

MomAudrey, you need to be nice to Cindy when we go to the Taylors’ house this weekend.

Audrey: Leave me alone!

Mom: Audrey?

Audrey (rudely): What?

 

CALM

Audrey’s mom does not like her attitude. However, she knows that pointing this out while Audrey is in Yuck will only create a power struggle. 

Instead, she focuses on staying calm so that she can help Audrey get to a less emotional, more respectful place. 

 

Mom: What’s it like for you to go to the Taylors’ house?

Audrey: I don’t like it.

Mom: Why?

Audrey: Their daughter Cindy… the one you say I’m mean to… she follows me around.

Mom: And you don’t like that.

Audrey: No! It’s annoying! I try to walk away and she keeps following me.

Mom: I can see why you don’t like that. It’s like there’s nothing you can do about it.

 

CONNECT

Instead of focusing on what Audrey has done wrong in the past, her mom tries to put herself in Audrey’s shoes.

She knows that she needs to consider how Audrey feels if she wants to help Audrey get out of Yuck and change her behavior. 

 

Audrey: RIGHT!

Mom: Ugh that stinks. (Pauses.) Well it’s not OK to be mean to Cindy. So how can we fix this?

Audrey: We can tell Cindy we don’t want her there!

Mom: That’s tempting, I know! Unfortunately that’s not an option. What do you need when Cindy follows you?

Audrey: I need her to STOP!

Mom: And you can’t make that happen?

Audrey: No. That’s why I get mean.

Mom: How about if I help you? If she starts following you, will you let me know?

 

CORRECT

While Audrey’s mom respects how Audrey is feeling, she still insists that Audrey be kind to the other child. Then she helps Audrey find a way to do what she is supposed to do. 

She focuses on being firm while teaching Audrey tools to be successful

 

Audrey: Yeah. 

Mom: So no more being mean? You’ll come to me instead? 

Audrey: Yes. ​​​​

Mom: Great. I’ll definitely be there for you… But what if you don’t stop being mean? Just in case that happens… What should I do? 

Audrey (quietly): Then I won’t get to have my iPad tonight.

Mom: Do you think that’ll be a good reminder for you?

Audrey: Yeah.

Mom: OK, hon. I don’t think that will happen though. (Gives Audrey a hug.)

 

 

This Won’t Work Unless…

 

Though Audrey’s mom used Calm, Connect, Correct, proactive deposits will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to give your child tools to be successful (so they are not disrespectful when they’re overwhelmed with emotion), remember: 

 

Depositing into CALM

You will not be able to stay calm if

a.) your own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low (if you feel out of control or disrespected)

b.) you have the expectation that your children will have the same priorities that you do

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. 

 

Depositing into CONNECT

You will be able to connect if

a.) you respect that ALL behavior has a reason and

b.) you understand those reasons (in a case like this, that a child’s disrespect is their unhealthy way of dealing with Yuck since they have no other tools)

When you become comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, you will be able to connect more effectively. 

 

Depositing into CORRECT

You will be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if

a.) You have demonstrated consistently in the past that you mean what you say when you set a boundary like “You must be respectful to another child.”

b.) You have made enough deposits into your kids’ emotional needs that setting a boundary doesn’t put them immediately into Yuck.

When you demonstrate that you mean what you say and when you make deposits into your kids’ emotional needs PROACTIVELY, you  will be able to correct behavior more effectively.