Most people thought that teens were the toughest to deal with. Well, it begins with tweens. Since the past few months, I am having a tough time dealing with my tween who seems to flit from one emotion to another in a matter of minutes. But what gets my goat most often is the disrespect.
“You don’t care! You don’t love me anymore.”
“You are so mean! What about how I feel?”
“Why should I care about how you feel? You hate me.”
And so it continues. The situations are everyday ones where I ask him to put his things in place, to not bicker, to not say rude things to his brother, to not argue, to finish his homework, etc.
One thing leads to another before he yells at me in a squeaky voice and then says something rude. That gets my goat and I yell back.
“No gadget games this weekend!”
“No movies or videos online either.” I throw in with good measure.
Does it work? Hell, no! He sulks. There are tears and some more sulking. If I was looking at fixing the situation, it clearly does not.
It exhausts me. This daily bickering and going head-to-head over small things. And you know, no parent likes disrespect. We want to salvage the situation then and there but it backfires. Of course, I do speak to him when tempers cool down but we seem to be going at each other more often these days.
[bctt tweet=”Some tips on how to deal with a disrespectful child based on my experience. #parenting #tween” username=”rachnaparmar”]
So here are some tips I am planning to implement:
Disrespect cannot be dealt with disrespect:
As both of us get upset, there is an exchange of angry words. I realize I say some mean things as well in response which are later pointed out to me. As difficult as it is, it is NOT okay to speak to your child rudely when they treat you badly (Easier said than done I can assure you, I struggle with it). So I will try my level best to not use harsh words. Going quiet and using measured words may work. If there is some punishment like taking away of privileges, it must be done firmly and without demeaning.
[bctt tweet=”As difficult as it is, it is NOT okay to speak to your child rudely when they treat you badly. #parenting #tween” username=”rachnaparmar”]
Again very very difficult to do in a heated situation. But, I have to realize that the brain shuts down to reason when we are upset. It happens to adults as well. At that moment, nothing really works, and we just want to give it back. Best is to try to be composed and later have a talk when they are in a more receptive mood and perhaps even feeling contrite for their actions. As I tell my kids, take a few deep breaths, think of a happy memory or just count till 20.
Often we are so caught up in our situation that we just cannot see how it may look from their point of view. The rule in my home is that they must change their uniform, keep their tiffins in the sink and keep their shoes and bags in their places before they eat something. When they go ignoring the rules, we have showdowns. While it is not okay to break rules constantly, I can understand that he was hungry and rushed to eat without changing his uniform (when it happens once in a while). By understanding his feeling, I can try to relate with his experience. In no way am I justifying the disrespect, mind you.
Don’t rush into reacting:
Things get ugly when an angry exchange of words is countered with another angry exchange. It really leads to nowhere. I know, I have fallen for it out of hurt. But as the adult, perhaps it would help if I detach myself a bit from the situation and slow down the emotions.
“I am not liking how this conversation is going. Let’s speak about this later.”
This gives both of us time to get a handle on our frayed nerves.
Check if we are low on energy:
I know for a fact that my reservoir of patience is almost empty by the evening. Another thing is that I am sensitive to loud noises. When the kids enter the house bickering with each other in loud voices, that already makes my blood pressure go high by a few notches. I also understand that they may be tired or hungry and that makes us all cranky. So, it’s best to offer a snack or something to drink when the child is behaving unreasonably cranky. Perhaps it is not disrespect that is fuelling the crankiness.
This is not to say that disrespect is OKAY. My kids know that. That conversation we delayed, we surely come back to. And the punishment doled out is never taken back. Three or four times when we are firm with following through, they understand that we mean business. To implement behavior change and to let them know that using disrespectful language and answering back rudely will NEVER be acceptable. But we can address what brought the situation on and how we can avoid it in the future by communicating better.
Are you a parent of a tween? How do you deal with disrespectful behaviour?