Your child is growing day by day, and it is really wonderful to have them around. They are such a bundle of joy. You are doing everything to raise them well, fulfill their physiological and emotional needs and enjoy motherhood. But in the back of your mind, when you hear some kids being so rude and disrespectful towards their parents you can’t help but ask yourself: am I doing right? Is my kid ever going to talk to me like that?
Probably, sooner or later that might happen, as kids tempt to test their boundaries and those of others. But you need to prepare yourself, to manage the situation, so that it doesn’t repeat. Also, you should implement the best strategies to raise your kid, a respectful one. Following these principles and strategies should keep you on a safe path.
- Understand the difference between genuine respect, and being compliant
-Anna, what have you done to the walls?! How many times have I told you to not touch the walls?! This place looks like a total mess. Grab your pencils and go to your room. Now.
-Yes mum. (she goes to her room, sad and probably crying, confused as to what did she do wrong-this is her being compliant)
-Anna, stop right now and tell me why are you painting the walls?
-I like it.
-But it’s damaging the house, we will have to repaint if you keep doing that. It’s too messy and expensive. Why don’t you try drawing on the white-board we have set in your room, it is white and big and will do just the same.
-Ok, I shall try. (she goes to her room and tries the white-board. Maybe she doesn’t like it. But if so, she will be able to speak her mind and complain. Then you will suggest another option, and so on until you both find the right solution that makes both parties happy-this is you both, being respectful to each other)
- Lead by example
Where are your kids supposed to learn respect? Everywhere, but principally at home. How do you expect your kids to respect you when you are not respectful towards them? You choose to be a parent. You are Anna’s mom. Furthermore, you are her model, her protector, her rising sun. Like in every relationship, love is not enough. Respect is as important, if not even more important. And it has to come from within. You can’t demand respect. You have to deserve respect. Every time you are disrespectful towards someone under her watch, you are teaching her what disrespect is. And every-time you ask for her opinion, her feelings, her preferences you are teaching her self-esteem and respect. Don’t take the shortcut and just give commands. It will hit you like a boomerang.
- Make sure if he or she is really being disrespectful
When your child is being disrespectful, scan for reasons. There is always a reason why. Ask yourself: did I hear it right? Is it a misunderstanding? Sometimes this is just what it is. You ask for your child to pass you the remote. He is playing with his toys. You ask he ignores, you ask, he ignores, you ask, he ignores… you yell, he turns to you, and starts crying. He was so immersed in his activity that he simply did not hear what you were asking from him. From your point of view, he was being so disrespectful. And from his point of view, you just awakened him from his play-world by yelling. So, before you read a situation make sure you both have eye-contact when you talk, to make sure you are listening to each other.
- Make him explain why is he/she answering like that
You help them explain themselves further. When they are smaller you need to give them a vocabulary to explain their emotions. Being angry is an emotion that can trigger horrible expressions. It happens to adults too. It is up to us, to teach our children ways to express themselves. ‘Don’t you dare talk to me like that!’ is a very natural reaction, but it only addresses your own need to be respected, and trashes your child’s emotions and his need to be respected too. An interactive response is much more effective in calming a child down and it helps him learn a new behavior, find another way to achieve what he wants.
One day I didn’t allow my 4-year-old girl to eat white cheese, which she wanted to eat for the 4th time. And she replied: Witch(or something else of your choice)! I was shocked to where did she learn that word and how is she yelling that at me. I replied:
-What did you say?!
-(silence, and lowered head)
-What did you say?!
-(silence, and lowered head)
-Did you get angry with mommy?
-Because I did not let you have more cheese?
-(she nodded and started to rise her head and making eye contact)
-Have I not told you that cheese is good, but if you eat an excessive amount, it can be harmful too?
-Where did you learn that word? Did some kid call you that?
-That is a bad word. When you are angry, you should take a deep breath, and try to find another way to ask for what you need. You NEVER use that word again, ok?
-You apologize to mommy?
-Now shall we go to the fridge and pick another yummy thing for you, since you are hungry?
- Being kind and firm, positive parenting
Punishing kids for their mistakes has never brought a cheerful atmosphere for any family. Being kind while you are delivering a ‘no’ is totally possible. If you explain to your kid why are you refusing a request, he is much more probable to understand and willingly comply. Allow your child to feel and express emotions. Empathize with your kid. Tell him: It is ok to feel angry. But you should not do so and so.
Be stoical in your decision, but be prepared to back up with arguments. Don’t be arbitrary. Your kids have the right to think differently, and diversity should be let flourish. Exchange opinions. Encourage arguing over a subject. Maybe the reason your child is asking for it is completely legitimate, you just couldn’t have thought of it. Be humble enough to change your mind if the arguments are solid. It will teach your kids that a good argument has value, and even parents can make mistakes. It is ok to be wrong. The most important thing is that we all should learn.
- Give him/her choices
I remember my mom scolding me for choosing to eat dessert first, and then the soup. And I know many parents that scold their children for similar reasons. I mean…come on. Is really your kid’s choice to wear his hat in reverse, life-endangering? Let them make choices, have a say in decisions, vote, and dress up like a princess today at school, if so they wish. Relax your parent-posture and do silly things with them. It’s ok.
Parenting is beautiful, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Every challenge we overcome together strengthens our relationship, increases our respect, and creates priceless memories.
Go create yours.