L: James, you mentioned accountability. Creating a culture of accountability. What does that mean? Can you explain that and how, what it means to parents and kids.
J: First of all, when we start with accountability, one of the things that I talk to teachers and parents about is creating a culture of accountability. And that culture of accountability occurs between two people. So when we talk about what’s on TV, what they’re learning in the movies, what their video games is, that, that’s fine. But the culture of accountability comes with, this is how I’m gonna talk to you and this is how you have to talk to me. This is what I’m gonna expect of you and this is what you can expect of me. That’s very clearly learned out. That you’re accountable for the way you talk to me and treat me. You’re accountable for your responsibilities and you can expect me to take responsibility to be accountable for my responsibilities. I’m gonna pay the rent, I’m gonna have food on the table, I’m gonna make sure that we have a place to live. You have to talk to me appropriately, you have to do your schoolwork and you have to learn how to solve life’s problems without hurting other people.
MG: I think it’s important to note James that a culture of accountability isn’t just a parent child thing. We even as adults need to be accountable; we are accountable every day to someone.
J: That’s right, well, I don’t think people are accountable to a culture. I think that that develops between people. Between individual people and groups. So even personal relationships and work relationships.
J: Work. I’m accountable to that job. I’m accountable to my role in that business. I’m accountable to that business. They’re gonna pay me, that’s what I expect of them, they expect me to do the role that they defined for me. They also expect me to do it with some quality and some efficiency.
MG: So as a parent, what you’re setting your child up for by expecting him to be accountable to you is the whole mindset that you will always be accountable to someone. This is a coping skill. This is a problem solving skill you have to learn.
J: Absolutely. Look, when you hold your child accountable, when you develop that culture of accountability, you as a parent have a responsibility to teach that child to acquire the skills he’s gonna need to be able to be accountable. People who can’t be accountable for their homework disrespect other people. People who can’t be accountable for their behavior turn it around and challenge you and act out. So when you’re having a culture of accountability, there’s a two–way thing. I expect you to do the right thing and you can expect me to teach you how to do the right thing.
MG: So my job as a parent then is to set specific standards, to set specific goals, to set attainable landmarks that a child can say, if I do this, I become accountable. If I do this, I’m behaving responsibly.
J: Yeah, it’s not only setting goals. It’s giving the skills to reach the goal. So let’s say I’m a parent and my goal is that you’re gonna sink five throws from the free throw line in basketball out of ten. Well I just can’t put you up there with a ball and tell you do it, that’s my goal. I’ve gotta show you how to do it. I’ve gotta show you how you place your feet, how you place your arms. How you propel the ball. I’ve gotta spend some time practicing with you. I’ve gotta show you how to do these things and I’ve gotta practice them. So it’s not setting the goals, it’s giving the kid the skills. Acquiring the skills yourself for an understanding of what it takes. Using the tools and using the skills.
James Lehman had a very personal understanding of kids with behavior problems. He displayed severe oppositional, defiant behaviors as a child and teenager, and became a Behavioral Therapist specializing in helping troubled children, teens and their families for 30 years.
Janet Lehman, MSW Child Behavior Therapist
Janet Lehman has over three decades of clinical experience working with out–of–control children and teens and their parents. Working in group homes and residential treatment centers, Janet helped children with serious behavioral disorders learn to get their behavior under control.
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As a parent, how do you know for sure if your child’s behavior has crossed the line and become truly disrespectful? I believe the distinction between mild rebelliousness and disrespect has to be drawn very clearly. Here’s how you determine whether or not your child has gone too far. When he is being rude or complaining that something isn’t fair, ask yourself, “Is my child expressing general frustration about the injustices or challenges of life, or is he being deliberately hurtful, condescending or abusive?”
I believe that when kids engage in mildly rebellious expressions of frustration, it’s a sign that you clearly have the authority.
I look at it this way: when your child rolls his eyes and stomps up the stairs, it’s fairly harmless. It’s very different from saying, “You’re a jerk. You can’t make me. I don’t care what the rules are, I’m not doing it!” Make no mistake, there is a distinction between eye-rolling and your child shouting, “You’re stupid.” I think parents need to really understand this difference at a core level.
Many parents I’ve worked with through the years didn’t know where to draw the line when it came to their child’s disrespectful behavior. When their teen or pre-teen expressed themselves in mildly rebellious ways, it frightened them. They would sit in my office and say, “If I don’t stop my teen’s eye-rolling, next she’ll be calling me a jerk.” I’d usually reply, “Well, the question is, did she ever call you a jerk in the past? If she didn’t, don’t worry about it. And if she does in the future, hold her accountable.” It’s as simple as that.
By the way, I understand that parents are often afraid things are going to get more difficult with their adolescents. If you’re parenting a teen or pre-teen, you’re probably living with the fear that things can get worse; as we all know, kids in that age group can be very moody and stubborn. It’s such a delicate balance during adolescence: while it’s important to allow for the natural “breaking away” process that comes during the teen years, parents also have to be sure to identify and challenge any truly disrespectful child behavior that is hurtful, rude or demeaning to others.
Don’t Take it Personally
Respect, disrespect and compliance are often issues that become entangled between parents and kids. Here’s how I see it: parents have a right to expect compliance from all the children who are living in their house, even if that child is 22 years old. Often, the friction is caused by an adolescent’s legitimate need to become more independent as he develops. This is precisely where parents and teens come into conflict: the parent wants compliance and the adolescent wants independence. Now let’s take it one step further: When the adolescent doesn’t comply, the parent feels disrespected—and they make the mistake of personalizing that feeling.
I think that teens have to learn to solve the problem of compliance in healthy ways. But parents also need to understand that many times, their child’s small acts of rebelliousness come from the fact that they want to be independent—it has nothing to do with disrespect.
Here’s an example. Let’s say a teenager is late for curfew. The parent says, “Why are you late?” The kid gives them some excuse, and the parent asks, “Well, why didn’t you call?” The adolescent replies, “Well, I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of my friends.” The parent comes back with, “Well, you’re not going out Friday night as a result; you have to take more responsibility to be on time and to call if you’re going to be late.” While giving the child this consequence is fair, if the parent then says, “You have no right to disrespect me that way” and they take it personally, they’re on the wrong track.
One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to take their child’s behavior personally. The truth is, you should never fall into that trap because the teenager next door is doing the same thing to his parents, and your cousin’s daughter is doing the same thing to her parents. Your role is to just deal with your child’s behavior as objectively as possible. When parents don’t have effective ways to deal with these kinds of things, they may feel out of control and get scared—and often overreact or under react to the situation. When they overreact, they become too rigid, and when they under react, they ignore the behavior or tell themselves it’s “just a phase.” Either way, it won’t help your child learn to manage his thoughts or emotions more effectively, and be more respectful.
Disrespectful Things Parents Can—and Should—Ignore
Generally, I recommend that parents ignore the mildly disrespectful things that their kids do. We’ve talked about eye rolling and stomping up the stairs, but I would also include things like muttering about how life isn’t fair, sighing dramatically or even slamming their bedroom door on occasion.
When my son was a teen-ager, there were times when we’d tell him to do something and he’d walk up the stairs to his room mumbling, “Man, I hate this garbage.” We allowed that display of emotion because we weren’t threatened by it. My wife and I would simply look at each other and chuckle after he’d left and say, “Yeah, yeah, whatever—just go do your homework.” I personally think that kids need to be able to express their frustration about living within a family and following its rules. So I advise parents to tolerate that type of behavior. After all, your adolescent needs to learn how to have feelings and opinions of his own, and he has to have a safe place in which he can express his frustration—and sometimes you’ll see him do this in very immature ways.
By the way, there were parents with whom I’ve worked who didn’t have the tolerance to allow that kind of behavior. They felt that it was a threat to their authority, and they ended up challenging it at every turn. But I believe that if your teenager is otherwise managing his life—getting good enough grades, being a good enough kid, not doing criminal or anti-social things, not doing high risk things—that type of behavior isn’t a threat to the parents’ authority at all. Rather, I believe that when kids engage in mildly rebellious expressions of frustration, it’s a sign that you clearly have the authority. Think of it this way: it’s not a challenge to your authority, it’s an expression of frustration about your authority. That means the ball is in your court. There’s no reason to throw it to your child and give power to their annoying—but harmless—behavior.
Disrespectful Child Behavior Parents Should NOT Ignore
Make no mistake, when true disrespect is directed toward a specific parent or sibling and it’s demeaning and rude, it has to be dealt with immediately. If your child doesn’t see where that line between disrespect and mild rebelliousness is, sit down with them when things are going well and say, “Listen, if you want to stomp up the stairs because you’re frustrated and you think things aren’t fair, that’s okay with me. But if you start calling people names and being rude to family members, you’re going to be held accountable for that behavior. So, don’t go too far.”
If you’ve noticed that your child has already crossed the line and is behaving in an increasingly disrespectful manner, you can say, “Look, there’s a line that I think you’re crossing when you talk to us. If you want to roll your eyes and say “Whatever,” that’s fine with me. I don’t want to fight with you about that. But name calling, blaming, and yelling are not acceptable. You are responsible not to do those things.” Always put these ideas together for your kids: responsibility, accountability, and consequences. What that looks like is, “You’re responsible to behave a certain way. I’m going to hold you accountable for that behavior, and there will be consequences if you don’t take responsibility for it.” Just complete that circle for your child so they can see the relationship between these three important ideas.
Here’s an example. Let’s say your teenage son has called his sister a rude or hurtful name, and you’ve sent him to his room. When things have calmed down, sit down with him and say, “You know, I’ve been hearing you say disrespectful things to your sister. And I just want to remind you that if you’re rude or hurtful to her, it’s as bad as being disrespectful to me. And the consequence for that kind of behavior is…” And let him know what is going to happen.
Let’s see how that conversation might go:
You: “You know the consequences for disrespectful behavior in this house. I’m taking your phone away until you’re not disrespectful for four hours. You’ve got a chance to get it back a half hour before bedtime, so don’t blow it.”
Your child: “Whatever. I’m going to bed anyway.”
You: “OK, that’s fine with me. We can start the clock when you wake up.”
Your child: “That’s not fair! I need my phone tomorrow.”
You: “That’s not my problem. My problem is, how do I get you to stop talking to your sister that way? And your problem is, why are you using disrespect as a way to deal with your negative feelings? And believe me, calling your sister names doesn’t solve that problem in an effective way. That’s not acceptable in this home.”
Note that the parent here took her son’s phone away for a relatively short period of time—four hours. I believe that’s better than taking it for a day or two because now, the parent has the child working to get it back. The teen has to focus on the new behavior of being respectful—or at least not being rude and disrespectful—in order to earn back his cell phone. In doing this, you’re creating a pathway for better behavior, and you’re working toward a culture of accountability and respect in your home.
A Final Word: Respect Begins at Home
Respect begins at home. If you want your children to be respectful, you have to be respectful, too. Let’s make no bones about that. If you call your kids names, if you yell at others in a condescending way, if you make derogatory remarks to your spouse, don’t be surprised if your child behaves the same way. You’re modeling that behavior for him. Parents who tell their children, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say,” are just creating the kind of double standard that breeds negativity and resentment. Let’s face it, if you’re doing something yourself, it gets very complicated when you ask your child to stop. Believe me, kids know hypocrisy when they see it.
An ineffective parent is a person who expects their kids to do things that they’re not willing to do themselves. You have to live your values. If you value respect, then you’ve got to behave respectfully.
James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."
Makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for your insights. Please keep up the good work. One grateful mom.
Comment By : Linndenn
Great article, especially the last paragraph!!
Comment By : Diane Beri
Thanks for the timely article. My 13 year old son with ADHD & High Functioning Autism is increasingly stretching the limits. And, I've taken it personally - now I can practice letting it go! The only time he crossed the line I addressed it appropriately - how validating to know that. I find your newsletter a lifesaver - thank you sooooo much.
Comment By : Janet
My question is, how do parents learn how to be parents? At this time, anyone who is capable of reproducing will do so, and probably more than once! So we have people who are totally unfit to be parents becoming parents. That may sound like another issue altogether, and it is in part. But when you are trying to deal with children whose parents are still emotionally children themselves, who are totally ignorant of basic parenting skills, how do you handle that?
Comment By : kaybet
Taking away anything for four hours would mean absolutely nothing to my son. In this scenario, you've just given the parameters of how long he'd have to endure the punishment. If you have a tough cookie for a kid, all you done is given them a schedule to exercise their rebellion.
Comment By : in a handbasket
* To “In a Handbasket”: That’s a very good point, and I’m sorry if I left you with that impression. What I meant to convey was that kids should have task-oriented consequences. So the cell phone, for example, would be taken away until your child hasn’t been disrespectful for 4 hours, or until he’s made some sort of amends during that 4 hours. (And remember, you can take it away for another 4, 6, or 8 hours if he reverts back to his old behavior.)
In The Complete Guide to Consequences DVD, I stress that consequences should be task-oriented, not time-oriented. So parents can take something away for 4 hours while their child does some constructive task (like making amends or working on behaving more appropriately.) And don’t forget, 4 hours is just a number I used—you could use 24. But I wouldn’t make it so long that it loses its meaning. The shorter term the consequence, the better the chance you have to get your child to learn skills sooner.
Comment By : James Lehman, MSW
I so enjoy your newsletters. I like that you give examples that are clear and precise. At 57, I am learning how to be a better parent. I think there is always room for improvement. Since, I clearly did not have the best role model...I am creating a new model for our family.
I know my mom did the best she could. One of the biggest area's of parenthood lacking was consequences for behavoirs. So, I am grateful to hear what that looks like. My method was to just keep repeating myself...how utterly exhausting. I am also using the tools that you are providing with my adult child, age 32...as well as my grandson of 7. Total Transformation has helped us tremendously. Please keep giving us more examples of appropriate consequences. Thanks, again.
Comment By : Lilliane
I have a boy who is 12 with ADHD/Asperger combination. His problem is that whenever he gets angry, he uses foul languages and makes disrepectfule comments to adults, even to his mom. When he gets angry, he completely looses control and his tongue is not controllable. One night I sat down with him to talk about the consequences. I tried many methods of consequences but nothing worked. I told him that if he abuses verbally or makes disrepectful comments to anyone, he is going to loose a dinner meal. He not only looses a meal, but I, as his father will loose the meal as well. So we are both being punished for his abusive behavior. The very next day he was verbally abusive at his school as the school principal called me to report on him. So that night he went without his dinner. Of course he was very miserable and begged to have some food at night, but we didn't give in. However, the next day, he was in a situation where he was tempted to behave badly again, but decided against it because he did not want to go hungry again (this according to him). He was very proud of the fact that he was vicrorious on this and he couldn't stop talking about it all night. He was very proud of his accomplishment, and we poured in a lot of good compliments. So this method seems to be effective in our case. But the question I have is that, is taking away a meal too harsh of a consequence for a boy who is 12?
Comment By : Searching for Consequences
I love your advise. I'm a mother of 5 kids and they are close in age and they are very rude to me and my husband and always talk back. We also find them yelling at their 6 year old sister who is the youngest. I already ordered 1 of your books called:Transform Your Problem Child. I love it. It has great ideas for me to use. To every1 out there, listen to this man he knows what he is doing and saying.
Comment By : angelmomof4
* Dear Searching for Consequences:
What you have learned is that your child does have the capacity to use some self-talk at times to focus on calming himself down. It’s not the consequence of a lost meal per se, but a consequence that he cared enough about that inspired him. I can understand why you are asking about missing a meal. We don’t recommend that because kids need to be at their physical best, their emotional and rational best. Missing a meal can affect you physically, cause irritability and other problems. Plus you always want to give the message that you will provide for your child’s basic needs. I think it’s a great question -- just find a different consequence to motivate your son. My money is on you. You sound like a very motivated and concerned Dad who’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his son.
Comment By : CAROLE BANKS, Parental Support Line Advisor
My 13 year old Asperger's child is highly gifted; however, rude, condescending, and disrepsectful when stressed or frustrated. He refuses to help out in the house, pack his lunch, put away his laundry, etc. Unfortunately, I have no choice to go behind him as we live with my parents and they will atgonize him until he loses it. I know what to do;however, I am constrained by keeping the peace. What
consequences will work for a child who has no activities ( due to the amount of homework),does not play video games, and prefers only to read at home. I have tried a sticker system tied into rewards, time with me, monetary rewards, etc. I keep him at my work until late at night ( I'm a teacher) to avoid conflicts with my parents and will be spending most of the weekend there as my parents refuse to speak to him anymore. My parents refuse to speak with him because he has tantrums. Secondly, they tell me that I need to control my son or remove him from the house. Thirdly, my dad has told my son to pack his bags on several occasions. The worst my child has done is scream and holler when triggered by stress. My daughter who has anxiety and ADHD is stuck in the middle as I don't come home until 9 and now don't spend much time at home, even on weekends. My parents often scream at me, in front of both children, " what are we going to do with him?" There are no options ( his father and institutions are out)-child is a good kid except for moderate outbursts. BTW, financial constraints leave me with little housing options. Help! I am burning out! ** At school, child has little problems and does well. Medication helps him at school.
Comment By : bassett09
* Dear ‘bassett09’:
I’m sorry to hear you’re having such a difficult time. If you simply cannot move, do your best to come to an agreement with your parents to work together on a system of consequences so that you can be home earlier and spend time with your daughter as well as your son. Besides, you don’t want to be too accommodating to your son by staying away from your home to avoid conflicts that challenge him or doing his house work for him. He will never learn to do it himself if you do it for him or learn how to get along with others if you don’t allow him opportunities to interact appropriately with his grandparents. Let your parents know that when you make changes, behavior always gets worse before it gets better. Everyone needs to expect a difficult adjustment period. Do your best to ignore his bad attitude during this time. If you own the Total Transformation Program, share the ‘One Minute Transformation’ CD with your parents and ask everyone to use the language that James Lehman recommends for back talk: “It’s not okay to speak to me that way. I don’t like it.” Don’t interact with your son while he is acting out. Try to use natural consequences. Ask your parents not to nag him to do his work, but instead to allow him to experience the consequence of not getting his work done. Give him jobs that directly affect him. For example, he’s old enough to learn to wash and dry his own laundry in addition to putting it away. If he doesn’t do it, he’s out of clean clothes. He may choose to go without clean clothes for a couple of days. Just let him. Don’t make it more important to you then it is to him by getting really upset or worried about it. That’s makes the laundry issue into something between you and him instead of between him and his desire to where clean clothes. Just start with a task like this so he’s not overwhelmed.
I hope these ideas will be helpful in making changes. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how it’s going. Don’t forget, you can always call the trained specialists on the Support Line for ideas on how to use the Total Transformation Program in your situation.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
I found the article to be very informative and it shed a lot of light on how things are going in my relationship with my 13 year old daughter. But, how do you get a child to do what you want them to when they will look you in the eyes and say "I don't care what you want, I only care about myself. I don't care if what I do upsets you, because all I care about is myself. If I don't want to do what you ask, then I won't do it, and there is nothing that you can do to change that." How on earth do you respond to that? My husband and I tried to taking away of things for a certain amount of time, and in that amount of time, behavior must be modified, just as you stated. However, we have found that she will do what she has to do just to get the things back that we have taken away from her, and as soon as she gets them back, it's right back to the same old tricks again. So, we tried taking things away for longer periods of time, but it is still the same cycle. She does not care about anyone but herself. She does what she wants to do, does not care about the consequences and does not care about how it makes others feel when she acts in these manners. She is physically violent with her 11 year old brother, tells him she hopes he dies, and will physically attack him if he so much as looks at her. When you ask her why she does these things, she responds "'Cause I wanted to and it was fun, and I can't stand him anyway so he deserved to have his a** beat." Therapy has done no good for her. Because she does not believe what she is doing is wrong. Your article worked wonders on my son, who has Bi-Polar Disorder, ADHD, Disruptive Behavior Disorder and Impulsive Behavior Disorder. But, with my daughter, no good at all. I am at a complete loss with her.
Comment By : Wits End
Here is my issue...I have two very close friwnds that i have known now for 7 years. Their daughter, who is 14, has alway sshown me no respect as an adult and I feel that sometimes her actions are uncalled for. The line was drawn when we had them over family game night. I am competeitve that is a no-brainer. While playing the game i confronted a mistake she had made and we got into an agruement. I am fine with someone having a different opinion than mine but I am strong force. So i might come off a bit intimidating at times. Albeit, the issue at hand was not the ruling during the game but the reaction i percieved from the daughter. She began to challeneg me, once again no problem with the challenge, but her facial gestures and comments/ saracasm is an issue with me. Her parents felt no need to correct the mannner in which she was speaking to me in my home. Let me tell you I am a former Drill Instructor in the United States Marine Corps and so are her parents, so my tolerance level with what I feel is disrespect is minimal. I felt her parents were not correcting the issue at hand my emotins towards her disrespect had been overcome for far too long. I smacked my hand on the table and said "I will no linger be spoken to like that especially, in my house!" The mother and father sat for a second stunned at the combustion of the event. I do feel as if I could have handled the situation better, but also felt that a parent should have noticed the blatant disregard for respect towards an adult. To sum it what could have I have done to prevent this situation and how do i deal with this relationship from now on? Thanks in advance for any advice you have to give.
Comment By : Dom
* You bring up some challenging issues that need to be handled with tact and sensitivity: opinions about other peoples' parenting, and how to "redirect" a teen who is not your child. You might have a discussion with your friends - away from their daughter - about the incident, being mindful not to correct or judge their parenting (judgment only makes others defend their own "position"); this discussion is to let them know what is and is not acceptable in your home, and what you action you will take if your rules are broken. For example, if you have an expectation that visitors to your home need to speak respectfully to others (and that includes everyone), let your friends know that if that rule is broken, you will ask the family to leave. If you decide to invite your friends over again, and you feel the teen is being disrespectful, do not get into an argument or power struggle, simply state calmly, "it's not okay to speak to me that way." If the behavior doesn't stop, let the parents know that, as you'd discussed, the evening is over, and they will need to go home.You may decide to socialize in their home for a time, rather than having them at your home. This way, you have the power to leave the situation if you feel uncomfortable. And remember, as James says, teens often use sarcasm and behaviors such as eye rolling to annoy the adults: it is one way they feel powerful. Ignoring these behaviors often extinguishes them, and you can sidestep the battle. You might read this article on temper for more on this issue.
Comment By : Megan Devine, Parental Support Line Advisor
My son is 11 years old and lost his grandma about 14 months ago and after her death he went and lived with his father ( nasty court case) after his father and I reached a "settlement" and now he never see's him ( I prefer that) but since I got him back in October of 2009 he has yelled, cussed smacked me and called me every name in the book we are currently seeing a therapist just recently though. I have tried to speak to him and to ignore his behavior and walked away and spoke to his school counselor and everything else you can name and to no avail I have hit him on his butt ( he is 5'2 and 145 lbs) so I can not just allow to abuse me, I have no one close to me to help me, either they are passed on or not living in my area. His habits are disgusting, he does not wipe himself, he wears the same smelling clothing for days and won't shower correctly. I have been through all of this too long. His friends berate him and tease him and he takes it out on me..what am I to do?
Comment By : dianeV
I have a so to be 13 year old son. I dont even know where to begin with this. I know I am not the best mother to walk the planet and I find myself constantly apologizing to my son and feeling guilty about nagging him and always pointing out what he does wrong. So I think I have created a monster because I was never really taught or never had a very good role model myself growing up in a house filled with emotional abuse. My son and I are constantly arguing ! If we are not then I notice he is being extremely bossy and mean to his little brother and every response I get from a simple question asked is very mean spirited. After a day of that I then will start snapping back. Its such a nasty cycle and I have no idea if I can stop it .
Lastnight he told me he wished he could move to his friends house, it was better there the mom never yells and never tells her son "no". I left him sleep there and then picked him up this morning and as soon as he got in the car he had a MAJOR attitude. I kept quite and then his Dad came home and tried to talk to him and he wouldnt even answer. When I asked him what was up with the attitude he told me " You cant go a day without doing this. Its constant and I'm done with you guys. I'm just not going to bother with any of you. I'm so sick of it. Its over !" He has been in his room ever since.
This is what it is like all the time here and I blame myself for all of it. I need some help.
I think he is using his anger sometimes to manipulate me, but I dont know. I just dont know.
Comment By : confused and frustrated
* Dear Confused and Frustrated,
I’m sorry to hear about the struggles your family is having. It sounds like you recognize some of your own parenting habits that you want to change. This is a really important first step. I think that you can stop the cycle. Remember what James says in this article, that ‘if you want your children to be respectful, then you have to be respectful too.’ He is asking parents to model the behavior that they are expecting from their children. This is easier said than done at times, especially when our kids are pushing our buttons. It starts by picking your battles. You don’t have to address every problem behavior that you see and you don’t have to accept every invitation to an argument that your son sends you. Try ignoring his attitude and focusing instead on his behavior. Find a place to start, and talk with your son about the behavior that you want him to change. If your son turns the conversation around to what you are doing wrong, you can reply ‘We aren’t talking about that right now, right now we are talking about you calling people names.” Keep your cool when you are having this conversation. If you feel yourself starting to get upset, take a break. Walk away and cool down. There is nothing wrong with apologizing if you have crossed the line and treated your son with disrespect. Remember though, we don’t want to make it a long, drawn out apology. Try stating something simple like “I’m sorry that I yelled at you today. That wasn’t ok. The next time I’m getting frustrated I’m going to take a break and walk away.” Then move the conversation on. There are a lot of articles on this website that I think will be helpful to you. You might take a look at these two to start: “Does Your Child Give You The Silent Treatment? 6 Rules For Getting Kids To Talk” “Temper, Temper: Keeping Cool When Kids Push Your Buttons” Good luck to you. Let us know how it is going.
Comment By : Rebecca Staples, Parental Support Line Advisor
my problem is that my husband does nothing when my two sons are disrespect me.my boys are 13 and 11.for the last two years ive asked my husband to get after them when they are disrespectful to me,still he does nothing.they yell at me they call me names.if i ask them to do anything it is an argument.i am so frusteraded and hurt by my sons and my husband.also when i tell them they cant have there privliges back because of thier behavior my husband goes against me and gives it back.also he thought i was being to hard on them to for making them do thier homework so we tried it his way and thier grades dropped.im at a loss.how can i make my boys have any respect for me if myhusband dosent back me.i would greatlt apreciate any advice.thanks
Comment By : any advice
* Dear ‘any advice’:
There is research out there that suggests that parenting is one of the hardest challenges for most relationships. It’s very difficult to discipline children when your spouse undermines your decisions. Ask to have a discussion with your husband about your concerns and begin that discussion by talking about the things you agree on. It’s much easier to build a consensus by talking about where you agree then by starting by discussing your differences. You might consider ordering the US Factor program. The author of the program, Dr. Joseph Melnick, says “Falling in love is wonderful. But staying in love takes skill.” As a husband for 40 years and a highly respected couples therapist for 25, Dr. Joseph Melnick understands how hard it can be to keep love fresh and alive in long-term relationships--especially when you’re raising children. There is a specific Lesson in the US Factor devoted to parenting issues entitled: You, Me and the Kids. To help couples achieve change, Dr. Melnick focuses on what they do right, not what they do wrong. Rather than dredging up the pain of past arguments, he shows couples a new way to talk to one another that can help them address difficult subjects without blame, shame and defensiveness. The program was created to help couples understand how their differences can actually bring them closer. For more information, look at this web site: http://www.theusfactor.com/ Keep in touch with us and let us know how things are going. We wish your family the best.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
I have a 5 year old boy and I know he's crossed the line. He started by calling me a jerk and telling me he hates me, he hits me, kicks me, but now he has added in spitting in my face and blowing snot in my face. I don't know how to handle this and I've threatened to not allow him to go to his sports practice and games, but then I never follow through with that because of the expense that I've put into the sports, and the fact that I feel a team sport is helpful to his development and growth, plus he loves playing. I've taken away toys, and given them back on good behavior as well. I just feel like things are quickly slipping out of control and I don't know what to do. I don't even know what his frustration is all about. I try to be strict but still very loving. When he's good things are great and we play and we are really close. He doesn't really have much of a dad figure in his life so i don't know if that's part of it, rather an excuse - in my opinion. It's almost impossible to have an intelligent sit down talk with my son because when i calm him down to talk after say a 2 min time out, he will just put his fingers in his ears and NEVER look at me in my eyes (another concern of mine). Then he resorts back to responding to everything i say with, "blah blah". So the disrespect continues on and on. I don't know what to do.
Comment By : Pushed2Limits
* Dear 'Pushed2Limits':
Sometimes parents will give a consequence when they’re still angry that’s too harsh. Do not give consequences immediately while you’re still upset. Calm down first and decide what lesson you would like your child to learn. You may find that simply talking about a behavior is all that needs to happen. What we would recommend is to talk to your son’s pediatrician about these behaviors. The pediatrician may recommend the help of a professional therapist to observe your interactions with your son. Behavioral specialists can give you specific ideas for changing your parenting techniques to address your son’s needs. We appreciate your question and wish your family the best.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
my child is nine yrs old. He has a mind of his own it is a screaming match to get him to do anything from getting dressed to taking a bath. this morning he went into the living room with his breakfast which is a major no no in our home when began letting him know he was to get back in the. kitchen it was a like talking to the wall then he turned a yelled to me be quiet i am watching tv.(I as mother felt so disrepected I called his dad and when I handed my son the phone he hit the hang up button and set the phone down and continued eating. I do not believe that beating a child is the answer but what is?
Comment By : lola
* Dear lola:
There are a lot of techniques in James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program that will help you interact more effectively with your son. The first technique on the CD entitled “Ten Ways to Turn around Your Child’s Behavior in One Minute or Less” is ‘Assume Control’. James Lehman explains the technique of ‘Assuming Control’ as, “Be self-confident without being hostile.” It’s not necessary to raise your voice or make threats to be effective. Screaming matches can make you look like you’re out of control, emotionally. The opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. Give simple directions using a calm tone of voice. Make the statement, “Where are you supposed to be?” Then say, “Go there.” Don’t ask, “Why aren’t you there already?” because asking why is asking your child to give you an excuse. Give a simple explanation but don’t overly-explain or justify yourself. James says, “If you sound like you’re in control, you’re on your way to being in control.” While you are working on this, resist calling his father when he acts out so it’s clear to your son that you are in authority. Another technique to keep in mind is to not get into a power struggle trying to force your child to do something. (See: Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think). In the example you give, you could say to your son, “You know the rule about eating in the living room. Come back to the kitchen.” If your son does not, you could coach again (after waiting about 10 seconds) by saying, “If you break this rule, there will be a consequence.” At that point, allow your son to choose whether or not he will obey. (A consequence could be the loss of some TV time that evening). However, don’t rely on consequences alone to change your son’s behavior. Start changing your son’s behavior by learning how you can effectively “Assume Control”.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
I am having a dreadful time with my 14 year old son. He refuses to go to school because he says he can't be bothered and his behaviour is getting totally out of hand. He refuses to do any school work and will not take responsibility for packing his bag or lunch etc. We have been in touch with the school and other than missing work, there are no behavioural issues or evidence of bullying. We have tried many different strategies such as talking through problems and reasoning, sanctions such as removing his xbox, mobile phone or laptop, grounding etc however, these no longer seem to have any effect and result in him ransaking rooms, violent behaviour to both his father and myself and significant damage to property. He is over 6ft and very powerful so when he storms out of the house there is very little I can physically do to stop him. Any advice or suggestions would be gratefully received.
Comment By : Desperate Mother
* Dear ‘Desperate Mother’: It sounds like your son’s challenging behaviors have you feeling overwhelmed. You’ve been doing a lot right here—talking with the school, problem solving with your son, and holding him accountable. These are all of the things we recommend. At this point, it sounds like it would be helpful to have someone in your corner. You might want to visit www.211.org, an information and referral website run by the United Way. 211 can help you find local support to help you through this. One more thing you might strongly consider is calling the police when your son is physically abusive or destroying property. This is a scary idea to most parents but it’s a very good way to send children a clear message: We will not tolerate your abusive behavior anymore. Here is an article where James talks about when to call the police and why he recommends it: Is It Time to Call the Police on Your Child? Assaultive Behavior, Verbal or Physical Abuse, Drugs and Crime. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
The punishment/consequences part of this is not bad, however allowing a child to be disrepectful by rolling their eyes or stomping off it NOT acceptable. By allowing this behavior, you are endoresing this behavior. If they do this at a place of employment they will probably find themselves looking for a new job, or at the very least some unpaid time off. It can be brought under control later, but at a much higher price. . .
Comment By : hrntphxt
thus far i see a strong tie to my staep daughter and i within our relationship. she continually tries to correct me when she thinks i am being overly strict. for instance, this morning i told the puppies to leave the cat alone as they were chasing the cat. she piped in"their puppies, leave them alone" i told her " don't correct me, i am trying to teach them to give the cat his space, and to allow an avenue of escape" she continued to argue about it, and my wife ignored the behaviour her daughter was displaying by condemning me for telling her daughter to stop correcting adult ( her favorite pasttime), this blew into a large argument, and thus made me feel as if i am not able to be a part of the "parental control" in the home.
any ideas as to how i went wrong?
Comment By : rhinoglass
* To ‘rhinoglass’: Being part of a blended family like yours can be very challenging. James Lehman suggests that in blended families it is most effective if the biological parent takes the leading role in setting and enforcing boundaries with their own child. Furthermore, he suggests it is most effective for the step-parent to simply support the biological parents’ decisions, though it may be very difficult at times, especially when you are not in agreement. It could be very helpful to take mom’s lead here and ignore your step-daughter’s corrections. If you respond and justify yourself, you are only giving your step-daughter’s behavior power and helping it persist. Conversely, if you ignore the behavior, it will lose its power and slowly fade away over time. Here are a couple articles about step-families where James offers more information and suggestions: “My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page “My Blended Family Won’t Blend!” Part II: What to Do When Your Stepkids Disrespect You We wish you and your family luck as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
Okay I understand all that but when you have a child that been in problems with the law and also very Disrespectful to everyone around him. He always call his mother & I out of our name and likes to confornt me alot. what should I do I done he 17 years old not going to school
Comment By : robertg41263
* To ‘robertg41263’: The first step in dealing with confrontational or disrespectful behavior is to set clear limits. What this means is that you should say something to let your son know that his behavior is not okay and then walk away. For example, “I don’t like it when you talk to me that way, it’s not okay,” or “I’m not going to argue with you about this. Arguing isn’t going to change my answer.” By walking away you send your son the message that you are in control of the situation (and more importantly, yourself!) and that you are not his emotional peer. If your son follows you when you walk away, it might be helpful for you to take a walk around the neighborhood or go for a drive. Also, if your son has a probation officer, that is someone that you can lean on for support and discuss your concerns with. To provide you with more information and ideas, I am including another article for you to look at. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care. Disrespectful Child Behavior? Don't Take It Personally
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
my 11 yr old step daughter is rude disrespectful and wont do anything....her father allows her to treat me this way. I have told them I dont appreciate being treated that way and I am getting excuses from both that they were just kidding....so i turned it around and said the same thing to my husband that she has said to me and was told I was being a "b". he didnt see that they were doing that to me on a regular basis. I dont know what to do....am almost ready to give up and leave the whole mess behind?????
Comment By : juanitajay
* To ‘juanitajay’: It can be really frustrating when you disagree with your spouse’s parenting style and also very hurtful when you feel that your spouse allows their children to mistreat you. James Lehman suggests that in step-families, it is most effective for the biological parent to take the leading role in establishing rules and limits for their own kids. He also suggests the most effective thing for a step-parent to do is take on a supporting role. It might be helpful for you to find someone in your local area, such a counselor, therapist, social worker, or religious leader, who can help you with effective ways to communicate with your spouse about the hurt and frustration you are experiencing because of how he’s choosing to parent his daughter.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I have a 10 year old girl who disrespects the people around her by the things she says all the time. She will eighter get into conversations to point out why you are wrong or out right be rude for reasons of not wanting to do things to help family. She has a younger sister who is three and has behavioral, emotional issues and continuely makes her cry so that I have to stop whatever I am doing to pull them apart. I am in the process of dealing with getting my little one help but in the mean time the older one is lashing out any chance she gets. She will even wait until we have guests and I leave the room and be rude to them. I have tried to set up dates for just her and me, thinking she feels left out, I have tried to take away any and every privilage I can think of to know availe. It has gotten to a point where I feel like I can not go ANYWHERE with the both of them and have to leave them with family just to run minor arrends. What do I do to make her understand this is not right? Nothing so far has helped, she is doing ok in school but home is awful. If there are any suggestions please fill me in I need the help.
Comment By : ashpatches23
* To ‘ashpatches23’: It sounds like your daughter’s behavior is very frustrating for you. James Lehman suggests that children act out as a result of ineffective or faulty problem solving skills. While short-term consequences are important as a means of holding children accountable for following house rules, James Lehman emphasizes the importance of working with kids to help them develop the skills they need to solve their problems more appropriately. The goal in this case would not be to make your daughter see this situation from your perspective. After all, pre-teens see the world so incredibly differently from us—it would be a losing battle! It’s going to be most effective to help her develop the skills she needs and hold her accountable for following your rules about being polite and helping family. I am including some articles that will help you learn more about teaching your daughter some new skills as well as give you some ideas about effective consequences. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care. Why Consequences Aren't Enough, Part 1 Why Consequences Aren't Enough, Part 2 Kids Who Ignore Consequences: 10 Ways to Make Them Stick
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
My son is 9 he played hockey last yr and was rough had some issues, he is does not respect his mother and feels that he is hard done by all the time. He is the middle child of 3 boys. His father feels that taking hockey away is the only answer to teach him he has to respect and will earn priviledges. I think this is extreme. We are not together and the boys live with me. He thinks Karate is better sport to teach him boundaries and respect I fear it will teach him fight skills. He also had issues at school with other kids last yr for fighting
Please can any help
Comment By : ghuber
* To ‘ghuber’: It can be difficult to support your co-parent when you feel like you’re on a completely different page. What sport your son will play and whether he will play any sport at all is something that you and dad will have to work out by talking through it in private. From the perspective of the Total Transformation program, I will say that simply taking away hockey for no clear reason is not likely to teach your son anything. It could lead to a resentful child, though. Sports can teach our kids so many important life skills, but remember that there are other ways to teach about boundaries and respect. Parents can teach their children how to be respectful and accountable. This is something that really begins at home by establishing a culture of accountability there. Whether dad’s on board or not, you can do this in your home by having clear rules, helping your son develop better problem solving skills, and holding your son accountable when he does not follow your rules. You can read more about creating a culture of accountability in your home here. Good luck to you.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I'm am at my wits end with my 15 year old ! My son disrescets me and when I ground him his father lets him off ! For instants I grounded him today because he was supposed to be home at 9pm and walked in after 11pm I was calling all over looking for him even the friends he was with and no one would answer thier phones because they knew it was me and they were with him! I was terrified that something might have happened to him....I grounded him for the day today and his father let him go out anyway ! What do I do ????
Comment By : Eleanor
* Eleanor: It is incredibly frustrating when your spouse undermines you. It can be very difficult to support him when he is making the choices he is. Still, it’s important for you to do your best to present a united front to your son, and save your feedback for your husband until you are able to talk in privacy. When you and your spouse are not on the same page it can be really helpful to talk about your common goals—what do you agree on? From there, choose one and try to come up with a mutually agreed upon approach to take going forward. This will require some compromise. If you find that you are not able to come to an agreement and both stick with it, it might be helpful for you to consider seeking the support of a local professional who can assist you in learning some new ways to communicate with your husband that might help. If he doesn’t want to go, go alone. It only takes one person to change the dynamics of a relationship. Here is an article with some additional suggestions for you: Differences in Parenting? How Your Child May Be Using it Against You. We wish you and your family luck as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I have a 17 year old daughter who was emotionally & physically abused by her step-father for 11 years (I was emotionally abused by him as well). After I divorced him 2 years ago, we both went through 1 1/2 years of counseling and struggled together living alone for the first year. She was VERY rebellious that first year following the divorce - having boys over the house, smoking pot, getting in trouble at school. She became very disrespectful to me and would ignore my rules and call me names and yell at me. It got to the point where I ended up kicking her out of my home. She chose to go and live with her step-dad because he would give her more freedom (or so she expected). That was about 6 months ago, and she is still very angry with him and the entire situation and continues to be just as disrespectful to him and me as before. She brings up the abuse on several occasions and recently blamed me for just standing by and letting it happen for so many years. She is angry and hurt and I understand that, but the lashing out and overall is disrespect is becoming very difficult to deal with. I can certainly put her through counseling again, but do you have any suggestions on how to deal with her? I feel that I've done so much to try to help her, and yet she is still very "lost" and trying to find her way and heal her own heart. I just can't continue to receive verbal abuse from her and a total lack of respect.
Comment By : ShellyP
* To ‘ShellyP’: It sounds like the verbal abuse you get from your daughter is starting to wear you down. Getting some local support is something we always encourage and it could be very helpful for her. As far as your interactions with her, there are some things you can do. Whenever your daughter is being disrespectful or abusive, tell her it’s not okay for her to talk to you like that and walk away. If you are on the phone, tell her you will not talk to her until she takes some time to calm down. End the call after telling her that you will call her back in 30 minutes so long as she does not continue to call you back during that time. I am including a couple articles that will have some more ideas about how you can conduct yourself in the face of this disrespect and abuse: Calm Parenting: Stop Letting Your Child's Behavior Make You Crazy & 5 Secrets for Communicating with Teenagers. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I absolutely agree with "An ineffective parent is a person who expects their kids to do things that they’re not willing to do themselves. You have to live your values. If you value respect, then you’ve got to behave respectfully."
I know that I need to change my behavior too! I get upset and moody with my husband. My 10 year old daughter sees this and repeats it back to both of us. I find it quite challenging to change my own frustrating habits within the family and with people outside. I must learn to change my own feelings about handling people in front of my daughter. I am so insecure at times myself. I must understand my own reactions to things that my daughter actually witnesses. It is not always easy for me to come out of painful or irritating circumstances and expect my own daughter to react differently. I certainly don't want her to be angry or upset in her life the way I was at her age for various reasons. Now I am trying to understand who she is and appears to be.
I am a very serious person. My husband is fun and humorous, and she is a combination of us both. We have to learn each issue one step at a time. It is time to make those changes.
Comment By : Chana
how do i remove my 30 year old son who has been warned and spoken to because of his violent nature. It is never going to stop.
Comment By : sue
* To Sue: It can be scary to have someone violent living in your home, and it can be frightening to think that the violence will never stop. You have the right to feel safe in your home. A helpful resource to do this may be contacting your local domestic violence project to develop a safety plan around removing your son from your home. You can reach them at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or through email at http://www.thehotline.org National Domestic Violence Hotline. Another resource for you may be contacting local law enforcement on their non-emergency line to see what the process is for your area and what assistance they might be able to offer you in removing your son. It is often difficult for parents to consider calling the police on their children; however, your safety is extremely important. For more information about this, I am attaching an article I think you might find helpful: http://www.empoweringparents.com/Is-It-Time-to-Call-the-Police-on-Your-Child.php Is It Time to Call the Police on Your Child? Assaultive Behavior, Verbal or Physical Abuse, Drugs and Crime We know this is hard, and we wish you the best as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Line Advisor
This article addresses disrespectful behavior mostly by rude, name-calling and hurtful comments and remarks - what do I do in a situation where ignoring and not acknowledging people in the home is happening? Is that considered a disrespectful act and how could that be addressed?
Comment By : Confused
* To Confused: This is a great follow-up to your other question. We do have an article about what to do when your kids ignore you: “Answer Me When I’m Talking to You!” What to Do When Your Child Ignores You. It’s very typical for adults to take it personally when children do not acknowledge them. However, if the adult takes it too personally, it often leads to a tit-for-tat type of mentality that serves as an obstacle to change. The more upset adults get about being ignored, the more power it gives the child doing the ignoring. And the more power the child gets, the more motivated they are to keep up their act. I think the article I linked to above will give you some good insight into your situation.
Comment By : Sara Bean. M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I love being a Gen X parent. When I was a child, my bad behaviour was my fault. Now I'm a parent, my child's bad behaviour is my fault.
What if your child's behaviour is not either eye-rolling or clearly defined unacceptabl rude name-calling, but a continued refusal to be cooperative and get through their daily chores and getting ready for things properly, so that you become so completely worn down by it that you are prevented from actually getting on with your own life?
Comment By : MotherR
* To 'MotherR': It can be frustrating and tiresome to have a child who refuses to complete their responsibilities and cooperate with you. We find that a combination of problem solving and limit setting with your child is the best approach to these issues. For example, you might let your child know that s/he is not allowed to have electronics until their daily chores are complete (limit setting). You can then ask “What are you going to do differently to make sure that your chores are done on time?” (problem solving). You cannot make them do anything; what you can do is hold them accountable for their choices. I am including an article series you might find helpful: Why Consequences Aren't Enough, Part 1: How to Coach Your Child to Better Behavior & http://www.empoweringparents.com/making-child- Why Consequences Aren't Enough, Part 2 Making Child Behavior Changes That Last. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
I have an 18 year old son, always had a quick temper and moody but still manageable. Now he is just plain rude and very disrespectful. We cannot say anything then he screams, swears at us, kick the doors and stomps off. Saturday evening for example, my husband and son was watching sport on the tv. My son took the bowl of chips and started eating, my husband said "just leave me some chips as well". My son took the chip from his mouth threw it back in the bowl, swore, slammed the table and walked out. I drove sixty kilometers to fetch him from his temp job, he text me to come quickly, come now etc. When I got there he was shopping (I told him I'm close by) and when I was looking for him in the shop he was swearing to me in the text because I'm so stupid etc. From the food we prepare to the way we manage our money and everything in between - its all wrong and stupid from his perspective. He has damaged stuff in the house, calls his older sister a loser because she has no money of her own etc. I honestly don't know how to handle this!
Comment By : desperate_mom
I am a 1st time visitor to this website & find it very well written and full of ood ideas. My 12 y/o daughter has ADHD since in 2nd grade & just diagnosed last week with Asperger's. The new diagnosis really shed some light on why she does some of the things she does. I liked the recommendation of setting a time limit to encourage good behaviors. I could never start out with a time frame like 4 hours, but tonight i did try starting with 5 mins at a time & it showed immediate improvement. Thanks.
Comment By : stressed
Here is an issue and I truly hope someone out there can give me some advise. I am 43 yrs old, I have two teenage daughters of 16 & 17 yrs old. The 169 yr old has a 1.5 yr old daughter, whom does not want to live with me because she does not like my significant other (live-in boyfriend) because he refuses to let her "boy" friends come over and not just one but different boys. I have a constant battle with my boyfriend as well because he does NOT know how to talk to people. I have NO other family, I am unemployed, and I have NO WHERE to turn to. Can someone please advise me as to what to do. If I am too lenient, my daughter loves me and my boyfriend tells me I don't care and if I do say something to my daughter then she hates me and wants to stay at her parental grandmothers house. I left her there for a week since it is summer break from school. Now she doesn't want to come back and she send me a text telling me if I force her to leave and come with me that she will call the cops. Most recent news is that her grandmother now said she is going to take over custody. What do I do????? I feel like I have lost control of my life and I have no where to turn to or who to talk to.
Comment By : Major depressed mom
* To “Major depressed mom”: We appreciate you sharing your story with us. I can hear how upsetting this situation is for you. It’s not easy feeling like you’re always in the middle between what your boyfriend thinks you should do and what your daughter wants you to do. Now, your daughter is refusing to come home and her grandmother is supporting that decision. I can only imagine how hard all this is for you. What may be most effective is to find some local resources or services to help support you through this challenge. The 211 National Helpline can connect you to services in your area that may be able to offer you guidance in dealing with some of the things that are going on for you, such as low or no cost counseling or possible legal advice. We would encourage you to contact the helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging on to www.211.org. We wish you and your family luck as you work through this challenging situation. Take care.
Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor
I am divorced with 3 children. My ex-husband and I shared our 2 girls, and I had my son on my own after I was made to leave the marriage. My girls are 21 and 19, and the 19 year old has a 1 year old son. My 19 year old was diagnosed with AD/HD at age 5, but she also has ODD as well. Long story short, my ex has allowed the girls to verbally abuse me, my 15 year old son, and my boyfriend of 12 years. We've been called every name in the book, had things broken and stolen from my home, and the list goes on. Some things cannot be fixed, no matter how many ways we've tried! We no longer speak to my daughters, and they do not come over. My house has become a home again, and is no longer held prisoner to their chaos. They are grown women, sometimes you have to let go, and let them learn the hard way. Besides, I still have one child at home who is a fantastic child!! He's very respectful, kind, loving, extremely compassionate, and he loves his mother to pieces! But he's not done growing up, and allowing him to see and hear that amount of abuse, is unacceptable! I will never see my grandson again, but that's okay if it means he'll never have to see how his mother behaves towards MY family. It takes 2 parents to raise a child, divorced or not, but when one parent allows and partakes in such God awful behavior, well, you can't win.
Comment By : StormLover3
I've used the consequence of turning off the cell phone for my teenage son when he doesn't clean his room or put away his clothes. Last infraction the consequence was to be 1 day, but he still didn't put his clothes away. Now it remains off. He's nicer to us, but he still hasn't picked up his clothes. So what can I do for a consequence to clean his room? Or study for school or any thing else?
Comment By : out of ideas
* To “out of ideas”: Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. You ask a great question. Let me commend you for holding your son accountable for not following through with his tasks. That isn’t always an easy thing to do. Sometimes it can be more effective to “present it in the positive” meaning have your son earn a privilege by completing a task instead of taking something away if he doesn’t. For example, instead of taking away a privilege for an incrementally increasing amount of time let him know that as soon as he has finished cleaning his room, then he can have the privilege back. You can say something to him like “Once you’ve finished cleaning your room, including picking up your clothes, then you can have your cell phone back.” For some kids, allowing them to earn a privilege as opposed to taking something away can be more of a motivator. For more ideas on how to motivate your son to clean his room, I would suggest reading Sara Bean’s article 4 Tips to Help Get Kids to Clean Their Rooms. We wish you and your family the best. Take care.
Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor
I have a 18 year old daughter who is very disrespectful and causing an upset to the whole household. I have 17 year old son and a 14 year old daughter who are very hurt. I asked my daughter to leave because of her continious disrespect. I feel now it was the wrong thing to do. Was it ?????
Comment By : Fret not
* To “Fret not”: I can understand your uncertainty in your decision. It’s natural to have some concerns as to whether or not this is the right choice. Many parents become concerned their child may not be ready to leave home or may not be able to take care of themselves if they move out. Any support you give your daughter as an adult is a choice on your part, not a responsibility. At her age it is a privilege to live at home. If your daughter is not meeting the expectations or rules of your house, it’s reasonable to ask her to leave. If you are having second thoughts about this decision, it’s OK to take some time to decide whether or not this is how you want to address her behavior. James Lehman offers some great advice on how to tackle issues that can occur with adult children living at home in his 3 part article series: Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I, Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part II: In Response to Questions about Older Children Living at Home & Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III: Is It Ever Too Late to Set up a Living Agreement? It can be difficult to determine when it’s time for your adult child to leave home. Only you can decide when that time is. There is no right or wrong answer. It’s more about what is going to work best for your family. I hope this has been helpful. Take care.
Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor
I like this article and im trying to figure out what to do. I have a 12 year old who has a really rude mouth he calls me and his mom idoits and curses at us tells us to go to hell he wants us to die. He is also started doing the same thing to his younger brother and grandma and grandpa. We tried taking things away for a few hours to a few days. Nothing seems to work. Its really stressing out his mom and grandparents. What can we try to help him change his behavior.
Comment By : Need Help
* To “Need Help”: Thank you for sharing your story. Verbal disrespect is one of the more common issues parents face on a daily basis. We speak with many parents on the Parental Support Line who are dealing with similar situations. As Sara Bean points out in her article "I Hate You, Mom! I Wish You Were Dead!" When Kids Say Hurtful Things it can be challenging to know how to address it in the moment and also how to help your son develop better behavior. It’s great you are holding your son accountable for his behavior with consequences. Consequences are a part of holding your son accountable for his choices. In the moment, we would suggest not giving the behavior a lot of attention. When your son begins talking rudely to you or someone else in the family, we suggest setting the limit and walking away. For example, when he begins to call you a name you could say to him something like “Talking to me that way isn’t acceptable” and then turn around and walk away from him. Disengaging from him in this manner stops the argument and doesn’t give the disrespectful behavior any power. It’s going to be helpful to teach the other members of the family this response as well. After things have calmed down, you can have a problem solving conversation with him about better ways he can deal with his anger and frustration other than being rude to another member of the family. Here is a great article that goes over how to problem solve with your son: The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems". You can continue with the short term consequences you have been using, such as loss of computer or television until he can talk to everyone in the family respectfully for a certain amount of time. Consequences that are task oriented give your son the opportunity to practice the appropriate behavior to earn back a privilege. We wish you and your family luck as you continue to work through this challenging behavior with your son. Take care.
Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor
I have a 14 year old boy almost 15 (with no medical conditions)and I have to admit normally he is a great kid with manners and very outgoing involved in sports and has no interest in in drinking or parties or stuff because he's afraid it will affect his chances of getting a hockey scholarship or getting into a good university but lately he's hit the mom knows nothing and he knows everything stage. Your article helped so much i acturally just used alot of the wording with him this morning and he has apoligized to me but of course still not takng the whole responsibility of his outburst. He expects when he needs something that it should have already been done (as if i read minds), or I'll be discussing something normally with him and all of a sudden he will talk very rude to me and start name calling and i will tell him to stop but he just tells me to shut up and even sometimes to F-off, which i do respond with angre(but i really try not to snap but if i ever spoke to my parents that way i would have gotten a slap in the mouth) he does eventually come and say sorry but I need this behaviour to just stop because now he's starting to do it in public and when i whisper to him to stop it we are in public he starts freaking out saying I'm yelling and making a scene (which I'm not because I whispered it but now he is) but then I'm upset and hurt because I'm usually trying to do something nice when he acts like this- I think you have helped with me deal with the after but I'm still not sure what to do at the moment it's happening - but back to this morning it started on the drive to school he needed something and I reponded with you can't ask me while I'm driving you there you should have asked me over the weekend but I'll try later and he snapped out and became rude and insulting towards me (after i dropped him off) he txted me and when i txted him back I used the wording from above about how he was rude and disrepectful and its hurtful and he needs to take responsibility for his behaviour and its not right to put blame on me or others when he forgets to tell me or ask me for something and all he had to do was admit he had forgotten and say "sorry i forgot to ask but i really need it mom please", and then everything would have been fine, he responded with a apology but of course a little comment at the end, which i replied that I'm glad he is taking some accountability but ending it with a rude unnecessary comment doesnt show me he's taking complete responsibility for his rude and hurtful behaviour and then he did say sorry and i told him to have a good day and we will talk about the consequences of his behaviour later, but now he's trying to be funny and make jokes that its ok mom i dont need consequences or nah we're good, - but I will have him do dishes or dust or something and ask him to think about how he could have handled himself better and how he hurt my feelings while he does it (hoping he does ) but thankyou again and please let me know if you have any ideas on what to do when he goes to start insulting or name calling towards me.....thanks again for your help, hockeymom
Comment By : hockeymom
I am a grandmother who has my family living at home with me. It has been a wonderful step in my life to have help and support at this stage of my life and I enjoy my grandchildren (2 and 4) immensely. However, I have noticed such a difference in the way the little ones speak to their parents and the way my own children spoke to me and I in turn spoke to my parents.
The thought of talking back, speaking and acting disrespectfully was never even a blip on the radar. Parents and older people were just naturally, or so it seemed, accorded all due respect and "sassing back" and out and out refusal to comply was unheard of . .. it just didn't happen. Most people my age feel and observe the same thing. my kids grew up just fine, they have good jobs, they are pleasant people and are wonderful parents but it feels so hurtful to be hearing my grandchildren yell "NO!" when their folks tell them to do . . just simple things, and to spit throw themselves onto the floor screaming and kicking. i just nver have encounted such behavior and don't know myself what to do or how to respond. Fortunately, for me and I hope for the ittle ones, they have not crossed that line with me .. . just their parents so far.
Comment By : havenhound
* To havenhound: The situation you describe with your grandchildren, and the sense of an overall culture change, is not uncommon. We frequently get calls on the Parental Support Line where callers state, “I NEVER would have dreamed of speaking to my parents that way!” James Lehman reminds us, however, that regardless of what is going on in the culture at large, parents still have the right to develop a culture of accountability in their home, where there are expectations for a certain standard of behavior, and consequences when those expectations are not met. Keep in mind that it is pretty normal for younger children to have tantrums, and say “NO” when asked to do something. We recommend talking with your grandchildren’s parents to talk about how you all can respond to this behavior consistently. We have some great recommendations on how to respond to tantrums in the article Stopping a Temper Tantrum in its Tracks: What to Do When Kids Lose it. Another article you might find helpful is How to Discipline Young Kids Effectively: 4 Steps Every Parent Can Take. Take care and we wish you the best as you continue to address this behavior.
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
Not every child has a cell phone, Ipad, Ipod, or whatever, some of us cannot afford those things for our children, what then do we do about disrespect?
Comment By : neice
* To neice: You ask a great question! While many children have access to these types of gadgets, quite a few do not and we use these simply as examples. The key is to look at what motivates your child, and what privileges he or she does have on a daily basis. Some things you might look at are watching television, spending time with friends, or earning extra “free” time during the day. Another option you might think about is asking your child what he or she would like to earn during a calm time, and how they can work toward that with more appropriate behavior. Once you have figured out what you are going to use, we recommend setting up the consequence in a similar way to the example James uses in the article. For more information on how to give effective consequences, check out How to Get Your Child to Listen: 9 Secrets to Giving Effective Consequences
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
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