When your child is disrespectful you might feel hurt, embarrassed or angry. This is normal, and many instances of this type of behavior are a normal part of growing up too. That doesn't mean you should just let it go until your child outgrows the phase he's in. Setting rules regarding disrespectful behavior helps your child learn what is and isn't acceptable and gives him consequences for using improper words or actions.
Examples of Behaviors
If you have a child, you've probably been talked back to or had a door slammed in your face. These are both examples of disrespectful behavior. Bad words or eye rolling when asked to do chores or homework, throwing a fit over bath or mealtime, refusing to clean his room or put his toys away, hanging up on you when you're on the phone or failing to call home if he'll be late are other behaviors that show disrespect to you. They vary, depending on your child's age, but may also be present toward teachers, grandparents, siblings or even friends.
Importance of Rules
Beyond the fact that you don't want to be treated disrespectfully by your child, there are several reasons why making rules is important. They help you teach your child how to treat those around him, and that doing so in a respectful way gets him respect in return. For older children, being respectful makes it more likely that they could get a part-time job or internship. Enforcing rules when your child uses disrespectful behavior gives him the chance to learn from his mistakes and do better the next time around. In addition, children who are used to following clear rules may have more success in college and in the workforce.
Many children don't respond well to having a ton of rules they have to follow all the time. If disrespect is a problem in your house, set a couple of rules with clear expectations and consequences rather than a bunch of little ones. This prevents frustration for both of you, and makes it more likely that your child will be able to stick to the rules. Have a family discussion so that everyone understands the rules. Take into account your child's age, too. A 3-year old needs different rules than a teenager. For example, giving a younger child a time-out and giving an older child the loss of his cell phone. Once you have decided on the rules, avoid changing them, which can confuse children -- especially younger ones.
Enforcing the Rules
You can't expect your child to use respectful words and actions if you don't. Model the behavior you want to see, so that your child knows how to behave. For example, don't snap at the slow store cashier, but thank her when she's finished. Don't use disrespectful behavior toward your child either. Use the words, actions and tone of voice you want him to use. Always follow through on disrespectful behavior with a consequence. If you let it slide sometimes or give in during a temper tantrum, your child won't learn as quickly or as effectively.
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