How to Deal with Disrespect in Younger Kids
How do you deal with disrespect in younger kids?
So, we hear a lot of questions from parents of younger kids about rude and disrespectful behavior, and it shows up differently, I think, a lot of times with younger kids. Sometimes it's directed directly at the parent, right? Or they may just say things in a mean way or unfriendly way.
Or an impulsive way.
Exactly. So, there are a couple of strategies that really work with this. One is to just say something like, "Ouch." Or...
Or, "That hurt." Or something to let them know because they may not be aware that their tone or their language is having that impact on you. What I used to say to my kids a lot when they were little was, "Do you have another way to say that?" Or, "Do you have a nicer way to say that?" And you may not want to start off with that, but once you've raised their awareness to them being aware that they want to try to be nicer – because they do, right? – then that's a great way to redirect them without standing there and say, "Stop using that tone with me." It's a nice way to invite them by modeling it for them while you do it, right? To speak in a kinder way and just raising awareness to that.
And the reminder here is that, again, a lot of times, our triggers get in the way of that. So, just pay attention to how you're feeling. Sometimes just saying, "Ouch," kind of gives you that emotional relief. Because it hurts. Sometimes they say stuff that just doesn't feel good at all. And so, you want to acknowledge that for yourself so that you can get back into problem-solving mode and really help your child to communicate in a more kind and compassionate way.
When younger kids show disrespect, they may not realize the hurt they cause. Start by raising awareness first, then working on tone.