How to Fix Your Child’s Rude Behavior
Once upon a time, you had a sweet little baby. They handed her to you and your whole world filled with love. Fast forward to the present time when your daughter has just screamed that you’re ugly, fat and she hates you all because you’ve politely asked her to pick up her toys.
Whether she’s 6 or 16, this behavior isn’t acceptable and you don’t have to let it make you feel bad or put up with it. True that it makes you second-yourself as a parent, it’s more of a sign of growing pains and your child’s desire to be more independent. So while you want to encourage this independence and for your child to make her own way in the world, you also don’t want her acting out with such disrespect.
This can be tricky what with all the technological advances our kids now have that we didn’t have growing up. Plus, TV shows really make grownups look like absolute idiots that haven’t the slightest clue what their kids are up to, even though we KNOW. After all, we wrote the book on rotten behavior, didn’t we?
For girls, this rude behavior typically manifests in overdramatic behavior full of overreaction, while boys tend to either withdraw or be defiant. So if your child is exhibiting this kind of rude behavior, here’s what you can do about it.
Your kid has enough friends. You aren’t here to be here bff. You’re here to be her mom so act like it. Despite her contradictory behavior, she looks to you to make sense of this unclear time in her life. You may feel like you’re unpopular in your house when you dole out a punishment or set rules and boundaries but your child is looking to you for clues that give cues for how to act in certain situations.
Don’t just make rules and post them up on the wall. Sit down with your kids and talk to them about independence. Formulate some rules with them involved. Before you do though, think of what is most important, like safety, honesty, right and wrong, and so on. Let them know what behaviors of theirs will land them in the deepest trouble. So for example, you might be able to overlook a heavy sigh and an eye roll, but you will absolutely not tolerate being shouted at and if it happens, make good on your punishment for the offense.
When the rudeness strikes, there’s no reason to fly off the handle. In fact the calmer you are, the scarier you are and the more seriously you’ll be taken. By being clear and calm you’re driving the message home that this behavior will not be tolerated.
Younger kids can often be swayed with a positive reinforcement like stickers for being good and lots of praise. But bigger kids don’t care about stickers or other fun rewards like going out for ice cream with you (in fact, bigger kids might see that as a punishment to be seen out in public with you, the horror of horrors!). Bigger kids will feel the burn when you take away their smartphones, gaming stations and other “necessities.” Make good on the threat though or they will walk all over you.
Your child needs to be reminded that you’re a person with feelings too. Once they are calm, tell them that it hurts when they say mean things. And don’t forget to apologize yourself when you’ve lost your cool in an argument. Children need us to be the bigger person so if you snapped at your kid, apologize. It will teach her that adults are human too, and that being humble is a good quality to possess.
Deep down, all your kid wants is to spend time with you and to feel loved. So make time. It’s not always easy with hectic schedules, but even if you take 10 minutes out to be available for a talk, say when you’re going for a walk or even in the car alone, it’s important. You should also schedule something fun whenever possible like a shopping trip or a lunch date. It will do you both some good to strengthen the bond.
Positive time together strengthens the bond. Doing so one-on-one is important but spending time together as a family is just as important. Make it a rule that no friends (even yours) can come and that everyone must give their undivided attention to the family. Then do something fun. If you have more than one child, alternate between who gets to pick what you eat (order pizza or Chinese) and let the other one choose the activity (board games or a trip to the mini-golf place). Enjoy each other’s company and it will help make you all feel closer together, which will do its part to ward off rude behavior.
Remember, your kid needs you and while that rude behavior will make you feel bad, if you keep consistent in your dealings with it and stay calm, it will give your kid the message loud and clear. Your child will get through these sassy, smart-alecky years just fine as long as you are there to steer her in the right direction. Keep your patience and keep your cool and don’t forget that when she has her own kids, it’s payback time.