Dealing with Disrespectful Kids

Virginia

You know those coffee commercials where the mom gently rises in her bed with the smell of that first cup? Yeah, I look nothing like that this morning! More like “Morning of the Living Dead!” 😂

Anna
Anna

Ahahaha, that’s hilarious. I know exactly what you mean! I don’t wake up that way either. 😂

Anna
Virginia

Or I awake to someone talking at me. That’s what gets me – how quickly some days begin almost immediately going downhill. It’s like, I’ve been conscious for 30 seconds and you’re in a bad mood and being rude to me? What’s up with that?

Anna
Anna

Right…You need waffles this very second? You want to know where your clean uniform is? You need me to mediate an argument over a brush? And it’s not so much the demands as it is the attitude.

Anna
Virginia

I usually hear, “I’m starving. Go downstairs with me.” And then he doesn’t eat for 45 minutes. 😒 I think it would help to take a deep breath and just remind ourselves it’s developmentally appropriate for them to be selfish.

Anna
Anna

True! I have a really hard time remembering that their world literally does revolve around them. It’s like when you’re in school and you see your favorite teacher in the grocery store. It’s so confusing: they have a life outside of teaching me? It’s just hard for kids to grasp that. Same thing with Mom and Dad. They simply see us as one-dimensional. And it’s hard to teach them that they’re not Priority One.

Anna
Virginia

Yes, ultimately it is our job to put up those boundaries, even though they don’t like it or may not understand.

Anna
Anna

Yeah. “No, I can’t get you more lemonade right now. You need to wait.” Or “No, you have had enough sleepovers lately; you can’t have one tonight.” (And even if you whine or get an attitude, that doesn’t change my answer.)

Anna
Virginia

And we need to be prepared for their angry response because in their world, they should have sugar, sleepovers and fun 24/7. They don’t know what brats they’d be if we let them have all the junk. Thanks to Kirk Martin (celebratecalm.com), the name-calling that results from that disappointment no longer bothers me.

Anna
Anna

So I think that’s really the challenge — how to respond??? 😳

Anna
Virginia

When my son calls me a name, I might say a neutral statement like, “You might be right.” My goal is to defuse the situation, not amp him up by trying to prove my point. Even at 5 he knows he doesn’t mean it; he’s just mad because he’s not getting what he wants.

Anna
Anna

Right!! My mom reminded me the other day — yes, she’s 12, but you really do know what’s best for her. She just doesn’t know it.

Anna
Virginia

But how we do not take it personally?

Anna
Anna

By not making their attitude about us. (I know, easier said than done. But it’s the truth.)

Anna
Virginia

Yes – they’re letting their emotions carry themselves away and do and say things they know are wrong because they’re immature. It’s about them, not us.

Anna
Anna

Totally. So it’s that calm but firm approach. And you are not going to get a rise out of me just because you’re unhappy with my answer.

Anna
Virginia

Right!

Anna
Anna

But what about when you feel like they’ve gone too far? Like what about if they said something really mean, or are just acting like a total brat? I have a hard time ignoring that, especially after I’ve already ignored it several times.

Anna
Virginia

I think, whatever you immediately want to do, that’s the wrong response. Lol. I’ve never improved a situation by following my first reaction.

Anna
Anna

Well that’s a good point. It’s just such a strong urge to correct their behavior THIS VERY SECOND so it doesn’t happen again.

Anna
Virginia

Me too! But in that moment it’s just all feelings. And like everything else, it’s our job to model and guide. If we’re sarcastic and rude back to them, they’ll respond in kind. We need to defuse the situation and show (and practice with them) how to ask for things respectfully. Of course, they can have the ketchup or the lemonade but they’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Anna
Anna

I am TOTALLY about to teach my kids that phrase!!!

Anna
Virginia

One of my go-to parenting books is titled How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. It gives dozens of phrases to use with kids to encourage them to cooperate, listen, etc. I need to revisit that.

Anna
Anna

I need that too! It helps to have some go-to phrases, as opposed to my usual, “You hurt me with that response” kind of message.

Anna
Virginia

Maybe instead of “You hurt me” it’s, “This is how other friends might take your words.” Then it’s not, “Oh, my mom is so sensitive” or “She’s clueless.”

Anna
Anna

That’s good stuff, Virginia! Talking about how her friends might take her words/tone is a great idea, because we need to rise above how it’s affecting us and make it more the idea of “I care about the person you are becoming and your future relationships.”

Anna
Virginia

Yeah, and as they get older, they’re going to care more about the relationships outside their family. Teaching them is easier said than done, I know. But it’s time that we put our big girl panties on and remember that it’s not about us. We have to develop tougher skins.

Anna
Anna

Ahh, not my forte. 😂

Anna
Virginia

Me neither.

Anna
Anna

But when I am feeling sad because one of my kids (or multiple kids) have hurt my feelings with their words, actions, or tone, I have to go back to God with it. I need to remember that my kids aren’t the source of my stability or love. Yes, I get love from them, but that can’t be my only motivation. They aren’t created to fulfill me; that’s too much pressure on any one person, let alone a child.

Anna
Virginia

So maybe the main thing with disrespectful kids is modeling good responses, and remembering God fills our needs — not our kids. When we fill up on God’s Word we can parent from a confident place. It always goes back to Him which is exactly what He wants. And we know Jesus was mocked, insulted by His family, so we can’t be surprised when we are too.

Anna
Anna

So are you saying I need to shorten my pity parties following disrespectful behavior? 😏 What will I do with all that extra time?😉

Anna
Virginia

You’ll have time to wash those big girl panties! 😂😂😂

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)
  • “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17, NIV)

Music to inspire you:

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related Posts on Texting The Truth:

  • Do You See Me?
  • (this one’s about marriage but the main point is finding our satisfaction in God)

Living Out the Truth

Ideas to try:

  • Get to the root. Could the appearance of defiance actually be a sign of anxiety or stress, rather than actively trying to push your buttons (I’m scared but I seem angry)? Remember when they were newborns and you would cycle through the 4 main reasons they were upset: hungry, tired, overstimulated, wet/messy? I think that strategy applies to everyone. Often we’re rude because we just haven’t met all of our basic needs. That’s why the term “hangry” is so popular. Kids especially get so caught in play and tend to postpone food and bathroom needs.
  • Use positive language. Tell kids what you are going to do and avoid being accusatory. Instead of “Sit down now! It’s lunchtime! You guys are so slow, hurry up!” Say: “I serve lunch to children sitting at the kitchen table.” I (Virginia) tend to shout a lot of directions up the second floor of our home. It is more effective when I actually walk up there and speak calmly and at a normal volume.
  • Rehearse alternative responses. Sometimes they are rude because they don’t know another way to ask for something so they just demand: “Give me a cookie now!” Model and practice in a quieter voice with “short words” (as I, Virginia, call them, as opposed to whiny words that take longer to say) so they know how to ask in a respectful manner. Make it fun. Role play – you play the whiny child and they can be the mom.

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more. In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}

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