Ideas for Raising Successful Children

...Ask the Learning Advisor

*Q: /How can I get my child to show more respect? My son barely grunts when I ask him to do something, like take out the trash. If he does talk, our conversations seem to escalate into arguments, and he always has to have the last word. He thinks everyone is stupid—and worse./* */ I don’t know where his rude and disrespectful manners are coming from./* */How can I teach him to show respect and stop talking back? /*

*A:* Parents sometimes have those days when it seems that everything they say is the wrong thing. Even an innocent comment may be met with a rude, arrogant or scornful reply from their child. Some children show rude and disrespectful behavior as a way of expressing their need for independence. Many act this way because they think it’s cool. It’s what they see on TV and it’s how some kids their age behave at school. Still others haven’t developed social skills to the point where they are comfortable exhibiting them.

You may get angry and frustrated. But the best thing is to avoid a big show of emotion. Here are some strategies to try:

§ *Show respect.* Speak to your son politely. Always listen to him before you draw any conclusions. Admit when you’re wrong and he’s right. If your son sees that you respect him, he will /eventually/ pick up these behaviors.

§ *Use “I-messages.”* Anything that begins “you always” or “you never” or even just “you” may sound like an accusation to your son. Nothing will gear him up for an argument faster than that. Instead, put the emphasis on your own feelings. Say, “I get very frustrated when the trash piles up,” instead of “You never take out the trash!”

§ *Involve your son when you are setting rules.* This way there will be no surprises or need for back talk. He will know the rules and the consequences for breaking them.

§ *Become a broken record.* Don’t get into a debate about why he can’t go to a concert without you—just this once. Instead, repeat yourself. “The rule in our house is no un-chaperoned concerts.” When he complains, repeat, “The rule in our house is no un-chaperoned concerts.”

§ *Learn to walk away.* There are times when you just need to wait until your son gathers himself. Try, “I know you’re very upset, and that makes me sad for you. But you’re being so rude to me that I can’t talk to you right now. I’ll be happy to discuss things more in a little while.”

§ *Discuss examples of respect and disrespect* as you watch TV together. Ask, “How does this affect people’s relationships?”

§ *Make sure your son knows basic social skills. *It’s not too late to teach things like making eye contact and shaking hands when being introduced.

He may be rude or break the rules at times. But, continue to talk with him about the kind of behavior you expect. And remember that building respectful behavior is a continuing process.

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