Children can often be disrespectful when they are in situations they dislike, or if they are dealing with other issues in their life. Most of the time, children just want to get your attention or test boundaries. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and act respectfully towards them. Try to identify why they are acting a certain way, and talk through it maturely with them.
Point out the behavior right away. If a child is being disrespectful, you should acknowledge the behavior right away. Ignoring the behavior will encourage them to continue until they get your attention. For example, say you are at home trying to talk on the phone. Your child is interrupting you continually. You can say something like “Sweetie, I know you are trying to get my attention, but I’m busy right now so you are just going to have to wait and be quiet.” This shows your child that you see what he or she is doing and then allows you explain what the child should do instead.
- Let’s return to the phone example. If your child continues to interrupt, say something like, “I’m on the phone. It’s not nice to interrupt me while I am trying to talk to someone else as I’m unable to give the person I’m talking to my full attention.”
- You can also suggest an alternative behavior. For example, say something like, “Can you wait for a pause in the conversation if you really need something?”
Explain the consequences. If you try to talk rationally with disrespectful children, and they still continue to misbehave, you need to explain the consequences of their actions. Then, if they continue to disrespect you, make sure you carry out the consequences.
- Never tell your child that there are consequences for doing something and not carry through. If children are told they will get in trouble but don’t get in trouble, they will continue to misbehave. Make sure you tell them a consequence that can be definitely carried through.
Discipline appropriately. If you have to discipline a child, make sure you do so appropriately. Not all forms of punishment work and punishment types depend on the age of the child and the severity of his or her behavior.
- Isolation or physical forms are punishment are discouraged. Do not, for example, send a child to his or her room or give him or her a spanking. Physical punishment can be frightening for a child, especially a young child, and physically isolating the child misses an opportunity to help him or she develops. Ideally, the punishment should teach children how to connect, communicate, and work through negative behaviors. Isolating a child does not allow him or her to come to terms with why the behavior was wrong.
- Try to think less in terms of discipline and more in terms of consequences. Choose consequences that make sense. Taking away a favorite toy may not really teach a child why interrupting your conversation is wrong. You should also apply consequences immediately after the behavior occurs. Make sure the consequence of a child behavior reflects why it was wrong. For example, if your child is interrupting you on the phone the behavior is bad because it’s disrespectful to your time. You might have the child do a small chore you would normally do, like drying the dishes, to show him or her that your time is valuable as you’re very busy with household tasks and work