5 Ways to Handle Disrespectful Behavior from Children

Responding to Talking Back, Swearing, Defiance and Other Rude Behaviors

Discipline disrespectful children to prevent their behavior from getting worse.
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Making faces, rolling her eyes, or saying, "Whatever Mom!" are just a few of the behaviors you might see from a mildly disrespectful child. On the more serious end of the spectrum, disrespectful children tend to swear, call people names, and become physically aggressive.

No matter where your child falls on the spectrum, it's important to address disrespectful behavior fast. The research is clear - disrespectful children turn into disrespectful adults.

Don't excuse disrespect by saying things like, "Well kids will be kids." Offering excuses only allows your child's rude behavior to continue.

Instead, step in and teach your child more socially appropriate ways to interact with others. Here are the most effective discipline techniques to curb disrespectful behavior fast:

1. Ignore Attention Seeking Behavior

Ignoring mild misbehavior can sometimes be one of the most effective negative consequences. That doesn't mean you're going to let your child get away with acting out, however. But it does mean you aren't going to give your child negative attention.

If you tell your child to clean his room, and he rolls his eyes, don't engage in a lengthy argument over his disrespectful behavior. Each minute you spend engaged in a power struggle is 60 seconds he'll put off cleaning his room. Paying too much attention to mild disrespect can backfire and lead to even bigger behavior problems.

Place the emphasis on the positive behavior by pointing out respectful behavior. Praise your child for behaving respectfully by saying things like, “Thanks for getting ready for dinner with such a good attitude.”

If you decide to have a conversation with your child about his disrespect, do so when you're calm.

Point out the problematic behavior by saying something such as, “When I told you to clean your room today you rolled your eyes at me. That’s disrespectful.” Explain the natural consequences for disrespectful behavior such as, “Disrespectful children often have trouble making friends."

2. Grandma’s Rule of Discipline

Grandma’s rule can be a great way to curb disrespectful behavior fast. Make it clear that your child will earn more privileges by behaving in a respectful manner.

Say something such as, “When you lower your voice and talk calmly, I’ll answer you,” or “I’ll help you pick up the toys when you stop being bossy.” Teach your child that polite and kind behavior will lead to positive results.

3. Use An If…Then Warning

Use an, “if…then,” statement to warn your child what will happen if the behavior doesn’t change. Say, “If you don’t stop interrupting when I’m on the phone then you’ll need to go to your room.”

This gives your child an opportunity to change his behavior around. Just make sure you're fully prepared to follow through with a negative consequence if he doesn't comply.

4. Provide a Negative Consequence

Moderate or serious disrespectful behavior requires an immediate negative consequence. If your teen walks out the door after you’ve told him he can’t leave, take away his privileges.

Time-out can be an effective negative consequence for young children. Logical consequences can be an effective for older children and teens.

5. Restitution

If your child or teen behaves disrespectful manner, restitution may be necessary to discourage it from happening again. If he hits his brother, make him do his brother's chores. Or, if your teen breaks something out of anger, make him fix it or pay to get it fixed.

Teach your child that saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t always fix things. Restitution will help him take responsibility for his disrespectful behavior while also working to repair the relationship.

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