Disrespectful Kids and Teens: 5 Rules to Help You Handle Their Behavior

by Janet Lehman, MSW
Disrespectful Kids and Teens: 5 Rules to Help You Handle Their Behavior

A recent viral video of a group of pre-teen kids bullying and berating an elderly bus monitor showed us just how pervasive it is in society for children and teens to be rude and disrespectful to adults. Sadly, this kind of behavior from kids is everywhere, and it only seems to be getting worse.

Parenting is not a popularity contest. You need to be in control and you need to set some limits. Your child is not your partner or your peer.

Some of it can be chalked up to the fact that our culture—movies, music, internet sites and television—often glorifies disrespectful, crude or even cruel behavior. Kids are taught by pop culture to think it’s cool to talk back and put down parents and teachers. Added to this dynamic is the fact that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are generally less authoritarian and more submissive than prior generations were, and therefore much less likely to say no to their kids. On top of this, stress levels are extremely high—in most households, both parents are working and might be worried about jobs, bills and other financial or personal strains. Many (if not most) parents are simply unable to devote the time and attention that it takes to sit down and thoroughly handle every situation that comes up with their kids.

Related: How to handle disrespectful kids.

When Did My Child Turn into a Pill?

Disrespectful behavior—cursing, yelling, arguing, ignoring you, refusing requests, name-calling—is a kind of wakeup call to parents. It’s telling you that you need to be in control of the situation more and set better limits. This is a process that happens over time. Once you change how you respond to your kid’s disrespectful behavior, it doesn’t mean that their behavior is going to change right away. It takes time and you will need to stick with it.

Before I tell you how to handle disrespectful behavior in your child, let’s talk a little about what’s going on with them. If your kid has suddenly started talking back, rolling her eyes and copping an attitude, as annoying and difficult as it is to deal with, disrespectful behavior is actually a normal part of adolescence. In fact, if it shows up all of a sudden, it probably is just adolescence—your child’s way of pushing away from you and “individuating”, or working at separating from you and becoming their own person. This is a painful thing to do—not that most adolescents would admit it! The truth is, it’s difficult to push away from your parents and move toward adulthood. Sometimes it’s easier for kids just to be rude and disrespectful—but of course, that’s not acceptable behavior!

Related: Does your child ignore consequences? How to find the right ones and make them stick.

Disrespectful behavior often comes down to kids having poor problem-solving skills and a lack of knowledge about how to be more respectful as they pull away. Often when kids separate from you they do it all wrong before they learn how to do it right. Finding one’s self is a lifelong process, and your job as a parent is to teach your child how to behave appropriately and to be respectful toward others as they grow up.

If your child has been disrespectful most of their life and it’s not just something that came on primarily in adolescence, then it’s much harder to handle. A change needs to happen in how you manage their behavior, and change is always tough. Even if you haven’t been good at setting limits or teaching your child to be respectful along the way, understand that you can decide to parent differently at any point in your life.

When my son was in high school, he asked to go to a concert and we said “no” because, among other things, he and his friends were planning to drive out of state for it and sleep in his car afterward. Our son was rude and disrespectful as he walked away from us and yelled “I hate you!” before slamming his bedroom door. We took his car keys away because we didn't want him to drive until we'd resolved the issue. We said, "When you're calm, come downstairs and we'll talk about it." Later we sat down with him and explained that he didn't have to like what we'd decided and that it was okay to be angry with us, but it was not okay to show that kind of behavior. This was a painful incident for all of us, but we made sure not to get pulled into a power struggle with him over it.

Related: How to change your child's poor behavior, starting today.

It’s inevitable that at times our kids are going to be angry at us, and that we’re going to set some limits that they don’t like. But that’s okay—that just means you’re doing your job as a parent. Here are 5 rules that will help you handle disrespect:

1. Don’t take it personally. I know this is a hard one, but try not to take what your child is saying or doing personally. This behavior really is all about them individuating, and not about you. Instead of allowing yourself to feel hurt or angry (which is a surefire way to get pulled into a power struggle), be clear and direct with your child. If they’re being mildly sassy and starting to push some boundaries, you can say, “Don’t talk to me that way, I don’t like it,” and then turn around and walk away. Tell them the behavior is wrong and then disengage from them. If your child’s behavior warrants a consequence, you can say, “It’s not okay to call me names or swear when I tell you can’t go to your friend’s house. I’m taking your cell phone for two hours. During that time, you need to show me you can behave respectfully to people in this house. If you swear or are rude again, the two hours will start over.” Remember, it doesn’t matter if your child likes you right now. This is about doing the right thing, and asking yourself, "What do I want to teach my child?"

Parenting is not a popularity contest. You need to be in control and you need to set some limits. Your child is not your partner or your peer. Your role as parent is vital—you are in charge and your child is relying on you to lead the way.

2. Be prepared. Know that some rude or disrespectful behavior is normal in adolescence, and be prepared for it. If it’s already happened once, you need to anticipate that it may happen again and then plan what you’re going to do about it. State your limits, then turn around and walk away. Remember, you don’t have to attend every fight—or power struggle—your child invites you to.

If your child has been extremely disrespectful because they really haven’t had limits around that behavior, this will take real work. Once you’ve set a limit and responded appropriately to the disrespect, again, do not get pulled into the power struggle. If you can do this once, it makes it easier to do it again. Just say to yourself, “As a parent I’m doing the right thing by setting these limits.”

Related: Are you and your spouse on a different pages?

Where should you draw the line with disrespectful behavior? I think every parent has a different line for their kids, and you’re going to know what that line is. Plan ahead and let your child know. You can say, “You swore at me the last time I said you couldn’t go to a concert. I don’t want you to do that again. If you do, there will be a consequence.” If there is an incident, be sure to talk with them once everybody cools down. Set limits when everyone is calm rather than in the heat of the moment.

3. Avoid power struggles at all costs. Once you’re embroiled in a power struggle, you’ve lost. But what do you do when your kid is swearing in your face, calling you names, ignoring you or trying to boss you around? That’s where that internal dialogue is so important. Don’t take it personally. Your job is to parent your child and teach him to behave differently. I think most of us have triggers when our kids are disrespectful and then we end up getting sucked into arguments with them. If your child has drawn you into a fight with disrespectful behavior in the past, be prepared that he will try to do it again. And then know what you’re going to do next time. Are you going to set a limit? Are you going to make your statement, give the expectations and not get caught up in your child’s words? Plan ahead. You might decide to give a consequence for the behavior and then have a follow-up discussion about what happened. The goal is that you teach your child to behave differently. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than going through life treating people badly—it won’t help your child function in the real world if he’s allowed to be rude and disrespectful. Kids have to get the message.

Related: How to avoid power struggles and start parenting effectively.

4. Be determined. If you want things to be different, you’ll have to make up your mind to do them differently and stick with it. It’s hard at first, but it’s really rewarding when things begin to change. James and I used to jokingly say that kids are like uncivilized little barbarians—it’s our job, as parents, to teach them a more respectful way to deal with problems. Decide today that you are going to start doing things differently.

5. Be a Teacher and Coach. It’s your job to teach your kids to behave more respectfully and manage frustration better. The three crucial roles for you to play as a parent are Teacher, Coach and Limit Setter. We teach them how to behave, we coach them (and encourage them) when they get it right, and we set limits when they get it wrong. These three roles are really the key to being an effective parent.

Remember, the goal is for kids to be able to function in the real world and go on to be responsible adults who can live on their own. We basically want all the things for our kids that our parents wanted for us: to be financially and emotionally able to function successfully on their own. It’s our job as parents to teach and guide our kids to become more functional. If they don’t learn how to be respectful to others growing up, it’s much harder to learn as an adult. Change is hard but it can happen at any time. When you want things to be different, you just have to do some work.


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Janet Lehman, MSW has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years and is the co-creator of The Total Transformation Program. She is a social worker who has held a variety of positions during her career, including juvenile probation officer, case manager, therapist and program director for 22 years in traditional residential care and in group homes for difficult children.

READER'S COMMENTS

This is good, I wish I had this impo. earlier. But now my 17 year old has gone to live with her dad and is wanting to move in with me after graduation with her boyfriend! I dont know if this is possiable due to her disrespect for me through the past years. Any thing to help me make a decision on what to do about this would help.

Comment By : julie

Can we ask questions about problems we are having with someone here; my chld is 24 years old and we are having some major problems; do you answer questions that we have?

Comment By : need answers

This will be interesting. We are in the process of adopting 2 boys (13 and 11) that this is a huge issue for. The foster mom says she just let's them do their thing (screaming, cussing, kicking, throwing things, slamming doors, etc) until it is out of them. She says when we learn that is how they behave, we'll learn to just ignore them. I feel they are too old to be acting this way when told to go brush their teeth (yes, that is one example she gave). It is unacceptable behavior. Since they've been with her for 4+ years, this time of retraining will be interesting. Thanks for this advice. I will be visiting here a whole more over the next long while :) Thanks for all your great advice. I've used some with my own kids, we are up for new challenges now.

Comment By : mom2many

Too bad you don't have a program to assist parents in coping with distrspectful adult children. I have four children ages 36 to 45. I am aleinated from two of them due to their disrespectful behavior toward me over the last five years. I did not raise them to be disrespectful so assume that their attitude and actions are a facet of our declining culture. Unfortunately, I am not alone, at 70 years old, in this situation. Most of my friends and acquaintances are experiencing simalar experiences.

Comment By : LSA

* To “julie”: I can understand your hesitation in allowing your daughter to move back in with you after graduation. It may be hard to imagine that her behavior would be any different than it was before. What might be helpful is to come up with a living agreement for your daughter and her boyfriend that outlines what the expectations will be if they move in and what the consequences will be if those expectations aren’t met. It may also be beneficial to have your daughter come for a weekend visit and discuss the living agreement before making your decision. If it’s not possible for her to come for a visit, then maybe the three of you can meet and talk about it. Either way, it’s probably going to be most effective to have a clear understanding of what your boundaries and limits are before you make a final decision. There are some great articles that deal with adult children who live at home. James Lehman’s article Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III: Is It Ever Too Late to Set up a Living Agreement? explains how to develop a living agreement. We wish you the best as you and your family work through this situation. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

* To “need answers”: Thank you for asking such a great question. We have many parents who ask us specific questions about challenges they are having with their adult children. We strive to answer all questions to the best of our ability. Please feel free to ask us whatever questions you may have and we will do our best to answer them. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

When my teenage son acts disrespectfully, his reaction to my discipline is to walk out of the house, sometimes over night. He returns the next day but this is very unnerving. I can not get him to stay and talk to me - he just walks out. Any suggestions?

Comment By : Ruth

My son recently graduated from High School. In 11th grade he was in the top 10 of his class and played sports. He began hanging out with different groups of friends, rehab, synthetic drugs etc. He barely graduated but not much has changed. He doesn't respect us and won't adhere to our rules. We wanted to drug test him and he's been gone for 3 weeks. No way to contact him. I've heard from people that saw him that he's in a bad way and is now. He's hanging out with kids at the top of the crime and drug lists. I am trying to be strong and take the emotion out of it. He has been accepted in to College and wanted to go. Rehab diagnosed him with severe adhd. My heart is broken and I just want him to be successful. He no longer drives since he wrecked his car. He refuses to go back to rehab. I am not sure what drugs he's on besides Marijuana. He doesn't listen. He can't hold a job. He doesn't finish a task around the house. He steals from us and has people at our home when we're at work when we tell him no one should be here. He sneeks around and doesn't abide by our rules. Any thoughts or suggestions please?

Comment By : Worried

My soon to be 20 year old son feels that we should overlook all of the rules of our home because he is doing well in college. He has been asked to leave three times now and always comes back saying he is ready to follow the rules and after a short period of time slips back into his old ways. Where do I go from here. The rules are: clean up after yourself, no illegal substances, participate in the household chores, get a job, no guests in our home when we are not home (due to events that have occurred in the past). The minute we are in bed he sneaks out of the house and comes in at 3:30am. We suffer with rude behavior because of his lifestyle choices and decisions. I am out of patience. I have given him counseling phone number of which our health insurance will pay for and he refuses to get help. I am out of patience, please help!

Comment By : Life Coach Failure

Unfortunately, situations with "disrespectful" children can't be lumped into a single cause & effect scenario. I think parents in our country need to own up to their role in their children's behavior and understand the difference between boundaries versus control. Children are taught behaviors from the adults that raised them and I haven't seen disrespectful teens or adults who came from loving homes where boundaries were firm but the children's voices were also were heard. They learned empathy early on and received a reasonable amount of attention and support, regardless of their family's socioeconomic status.

Comment By : Advocate for Future Generations

Thank you for such a wonderful article. I am only on lesson 1 in Empowering Parents, but I already see a huge change. The reason? I feel empowered. I don't feel angry or sad or hopeless anymore when my son is disrespectful and he knows it. I stick to my guns and what needs to get done, get's done...even if it takes a little while. And the best part? I think in an unexpected way he is beginning to like the boundaries. It seems to make him feel safer and in control of himself. Keep up the good work!

Comment By : Melissa

I think the ministries of child protection and legal systems while concerned about child abuse, have equally done a terrible job of disempowering parents from disciplining their children. It's not because the parents are submissive; they are afraid of the system, and the children know it and taking advantage. I've talked to a lot. Parents feel they don't have a say, and the system has taken over. Parents need support and help.

Comment By : Gene

Reply to advocate for future generations - I used to think my children would follow by example. We have a wonderful loving relationship. I have to disagree with your comment. Children are hard wired. We always set boundaries and put our children first. Perhaps you should read the total transformation.

Comment By : worried

I have to say that I struggle a great deal with the "respect" issue with my youngest son. He is the youngest of 5 and at age 14-16 he was out of control. I have to say I was not a newbee to the teenage years and had already raised 4 others to college age and above. I knew what normal teen rebellion was a what normal teen disrespect included. I also acknowledged that they were trying to find out who they were and where they were going. Number 5 was very different- he didn't accept boundaries, he defied all authority including law enforcement, additionally he got kicked out of school for 2 months- he was graded out and had to go to the school board where he was admitted to the alternative school in our county - not a good thing.This was a staight A student and a 3 sport athlete. He was into any kind of nightmarish behavior a parent can imagine. We could not get through to him, neither could his siblings (which by the way were good role modals at this point- all had graduated from college and had a job except the next oldest who was still at one of the most competitive universities on the east coast). We had counselors tell us that with all of the older siblings being so successful that is was too much pressure for number 5. I couldn't by that because number 5 had all of the same mental capacity and privileges as his older siblings but he also had more support. I believe it was something with him and where his mind was and what he was going through. We had to do something drastic (I kept feeling like he needed a good swift kick in the pants). We ended up evaluating a "therapeutic boarding school that told us they would take him but his behavior was almost to the point where they wouldn't. That really scared us. Then they told us maybe Wilderness would be alternative (after I mentioned I was considering it). I was scared my son wouldn't see his 17th birthday, I was somewhat scared for my safety and the safety of others and well as their person property. Additionally, we had to have him escorted out of our home and had to turn over custody of our son for the transport of him to the Wilderness site which was a 9 hour drive. He did not know about our plans because he would not let us talk to him. Over the period of 7 weeks that he lived without a shower or any creature comforts including no bathroom, and rationed food -he changed. But I was still deeply wounded and affected by the nightmare through which I lived. It has been a year since my son has come back home and I must say that your total transformation series has really helped me deal with this child who I love and was heartbroken over. He is now a straight A student taking almost all AP classes (I knew he was very capable and the thorough testing done at the Wilderness validated this ) he was reinstated to our public school without going to alternative school - he was not allowed on our public school campus so I had to advocate on his behalf with a video that he put together on his return from Wilderness that addressed his life changing experience. His behaviors are much better, his choices are excellant, he hangs out with the academic types and he even served on a mission trip out of state this year. It is all good except that we still struggle with rude, disrespectful behavior to me. I have to say your newsletters inspire me everyday not to put up with this disrespect. I love you term "faulty thinking" used in the total transformation series. These cd's keep me focused. The newsletter is powerful counseling session. Yes my son is doing to much better. Yes we as a family are in a different place but there is still work to be done. Thank you for your news letters, and the "total transformation" CD's they are like the daily counseling I need to stay strong.

Comment By : Joanne

We have been trying our best to adhear to the "Rules" and still it gets worse!My son is in my face everyday calling me names,swearing,stealing,breaking,slamming and throwing things,telling us what "he" is going to do! He not only does this to me but he tries to with his Dad also! he doesn't do it to him as much as he does to me though? I have been called everthing imaginable....and even some things I've never heard! We are in our late 50s and its not as easy as it once was to "tackle" things head on, because of other health factors, the way we used to. Infact most all this started about the same time my health problems did. So I am thinking that might have a bering on his behaviour? I have heard what to do over and over, but unless you are standing in the same room while our once "loving" 14 year old is spewing his venom, then YOU DON'T KNOW, whats really going on!I recently lost My Mother ,Grandmother Brother,and a close friend over a 3yr period, my son wasn't even supportive for that??!! So what can you tell me now? We've raised a child with no concience???It is very hard for me to say these things but you need to know the basics. Our son is very well behaved when he is around other people, and is respectful as well!? But when he is at home he changes into this person we don't even know anymore.I hear you telling me it will take time,and to stay strong.....well I don't think I have much of either left!

Comment By : Plain Tired

* To “Life Coach Failure”: We appreciate you sharing your story with us. Being the parent of an adult child certainly can be trying at times. On the one hand, your son is an adult and, as such, can make his own decisions. On the other, he is your child, and, like many parents, you may still feel somewhat responsible for him. It’s excellent that he is doing well in college. That’s definitely something to be proud of. Doing well in college, however, doesn’t necessarily confer to him special rights. You are doing the right thing by having clear limits and firm boundaries around allowing him to live in your home. Regardless of where he lives, there are going to be rules and expectations he will need to follow. It’s OK if he doesn’t like or agree with those boundaries; he doesn’t have to. He just needs to follow them in order to continue having the privilege of living in your home. Keep in mind, as an adult, it is a privilege for your son to live in your home, and, as such, you determine what the expectations are around that. There are some great articles that focus specifically on adult children. Here are links to a few of them: Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I, Adult Children Living at Home? How to Manage without Going Crazy & Failure to Launch, Part 1: Why So Many Adult Kids Still Live with Their Parents.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

* To “Worried”: We appreciate you sharing your story with us. It’s understandable you would be worried about your son if you haven’t heard from him in three weeks, any parent would be. As a parent of two teens myself, I can only imagine how upsetting this situation is for you. Something to keep in mind at this point is that your son is an adult. Parenting an adult child can offer unique challenges. The first step is establishing clear boundaries and firm limits. It sounds like you have already done this with the rules you have for your son if he chooses to live in your house. As an adult, it is your son’s choice whether or not he wants to follow those rules, and, from that, whether or not he chooses to live in your home. From your comment, it seems as if your son is making the choice not to follow those rules. As Debbie Pincus discusses in her article Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices watching their child throw it all away is one of the most painful and frustrating things a parent can do. As difficult as this situation is for you, you are doing the right thing by sticking to your expectations and holding your son accountable for his choices. It may also be helpful to find out if what types of local supports are available in your area in the form of support groups or substance abuse counselors. Even if your son refuses to go, it can be beneficial for you to have those extra supports in place. I would encourage you to call the 211 National Helpline. They can connect you with various support services in your area. You can reach this valuable resource by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging on to 211.org. We wish you and your family the best as you continue to work through this difficult issue. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

All good and well, but it doesn't speak to a parent of an 11-year old with a diagnosed Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Those so-called conversations that might take place in an ordinary home don't happen here. If I try to talk later, I'm met with a "I don't recall any if that incident." There is no talking or reasoning or explanations or anything i can offer this lad except a consistent message of certain behavioral paradigms are not allowed in this house and to operate in such a manner is to disobey. Period. And still, consequences mean nothing. ......... Make the consequences meaningful? When they mean nothing they mean nothing, meaningful or not. ........ Allow the child to make a choice, choose to behave and get a reward or choose to disobey and get punished? This child cannot make a choice because of his "disconnect": he is hardwired in his head to always think he can have his cake and eat it, too. ...... Let's throw fuel on this fire, he's the product of a bitterly divorced set of parents, one of which loves to wage a war in front of him and use him as a pawn in her battles. And she's successful. ...... Kids with the dumbest fathers still earn their respect and affection. Kids with fathers in jail for heinous crimes still are missed by the kids at home of the incarcerated father. But me, I have cooties and I'm no one's hero, just the opposite, the subject of scorn and emnity. However, this isn't about me, and it never ought to be. This is about the mind and development of an 11-year old who loves to lack respect.

Comment By : Parent of ODD Child

This was a very helpful article. I have a 10 year that likes to push my buttons. I have been told not to take it personally, but it's so hard not to when I feel he is so disrepectful and hateful. If he doesn't have everything the way he thinks, what ever the situation is, he is disprectful. I don't know where my sweet little 4 year old went. It seems he is only disrespectful to me and not to his Dad. I am trying to set limits. I am explaining to him, it seems like everyday, that I am the parent and he is the child, and that kind of behavior is disrespectful. The more we have these talks, I feel like it helps for the moment, but I also see the hate feeling in him towards me and it seems to be getting worse. I wonder at times if I am being too strict, but I also feel like he is trying to power over me. He is only 10, I don't know why he has to act this way, and I hope I can get a handle on it before he hits the teens.

Comment By : anniemason

We have a 10 year old who is very disrespectful. I would love to start working on improving his behavior, but he has caused our 4 year old to begin acting disrespectfully too. Stupid, jerk, idiot, shut up...all common words in my house. I have no idea how to get both kids back under control. It's so embarrassing to take them anywhere in public. I feel like a horrible parent for allowing them to act this way and am not sure how to get the power to change things. I would appreciate any advice you can give me because I'm at my wits end and am almost in tears, wondering where I went wrong.

Comment By : ML parent of 2 boys

* To “ML parent of 2 boys”: Thank you for sharing your story with us. Disrespectful behavior can be a challenge for many parents to address. It becomes even more frustrating when it starts to have an impact on the other children in the family. It’s normal for younger children to emulate their older siblings. Unfortunately, they will copy the negative behavior as well as the positive. It will be important to address each child and his behavior individually. Even though your younger son is imitating his older sibling, he is still making a choice to behave the way he is and it’s important to hold both of your children accountable for their individual choices and behaviors. As far as how to deal with disrespectful behavior we would suggest disengaging in the moment and then following up with a problem-solving conversation and a task-oriented consequence after things have calmed down. For example, when either child starts to talk to you disrespectfully, we would suggest you say something like “It’s not OK to talk to me that way” and then turn around and walk away. If you are somewhere you aren’t able to walk away then you would disengage and not interact with them. This will help to stop the power struggle and possible escalation. Later on, after things have calmed down, we would suggest sitting down with each child and talking about what was going on and what they could do differently next time. The conversation is going to look a little different for each child. For your younger son, it’s going to be most effective to focus more on setting the limit and then making some suggestions for what he could do differently next time. Here is a great article that focuses on addressing backtalk in children: Real Questions from Real Parents Backtalk, Name-calling and Disrespect: Can This Family Learn to Get Along? & Disrespectful Child Behavior: Where Do You Draw the Line? . We wish you and your family the best as you continue to address this challenging behavior. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

Hi, i RECEIVE YOUR MAILS MOST DAYS AND THE ADVICE IS VERY HELPFUL...i AM STUCK IN A POWER STRUGGLE WITH MY 12 YR OLD SON AT THE MOMENT WHO HAS STARTED TO GIVE ME ULTIMATUMS RE. MY NEW PARTNER WHO IS OLDER THAN ME...MY SON IS SAY THAT IT IS HIM OR MY NEW PARTNER...THIS I FEEL IS HIM FEELING LIKE HE IS LOSING HIS IDENTITY WITHIN THE HOME...OR IS IT JUST THE PEER FROM FRIENDS...HIS TWIN SISTER IS OK WITH MY NEW PARTNER AS IS MY ELDEST 14 YR OLD...MY PARTNER THINKS IT IS TO DO WITH THE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT HE HAS WITH ME AND THE FREUDIAN CONNECTIONS MADE AS HE APPROACHES ADOLESCENSE AND THE FACT THAT HE HAS A STRONG EMOTIONAL BOND WITH ME...I FELL FREUDS THEORY IS NOT AN ISSUE HERE BUT PURELY ONE OF LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE HOME...PLEASE HELP...FRUSTRATED MUM

Comment By : frustrated and near giving in mum

* To frustrated and near giving in mum: It’s a difficult position to find yourself in when your child is giving you ultimatums and engaging in power struggles over your new partner. It’s pretty normal for kids to have a hard time when a parent starts seeing a new person, especially if the parent has not dated much. Ultimately, as an adult, you have the right to choose with whom are going to spend your time, and it is your son’s responsibility to find more effective ways of expressing those difficult feelings. We recommend having a problem-solving conversation with your son about more appropriate strategies to express how he is feeling. We also encourage you to spend some one-on-one time with each of your children on a regular basis to maintain the connection you have with them. We wish you and your family the best as you move forward.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

I have a total of 5 children (13 and 8 year old boys, 4 year old twin girls and 3 yr old girl). I have been experiencing problems of respect and listening with my 13 year old for some time and it has just been getting worse. What adds to the problem is his siblings see him acting in a disrespectful manner to me and they do it. My 13 year old tells me no, ignores me when told to do something, back talks, etc. etc. Just for an example a few weeks ago, I told him he had to mow and the attitude and anger immediately began. He was practically running as he was mowing. I told him he missed some of the yard and he claimed he did not see it. I suggested he step back and take a look. He took one step back and said, "Yep, looks good to me!" and left. He can be a happy camper until he is asked to do something, then I get attitude and back talk and usually tears. Yesterday we were having a conversation about him not listening in church. He kept putting his hands on his face and has acne beginning. I told him quietly three times to get his hands off his face and the last time I told him he put his hand under his chin and started rubbing his thumb on his face. It as a "I'm still not listening to you". Then there was a part where everyone was clapping to a story someone had shared and he was doing a very slow clap that seemed very disrespectful to both my husband and me. As we were talking about it, I told him I did not expect him to act like that in church again explaining it was disrespectful and trying to get him to think how her family would have felt had they been sitting right beside us. He said to me, "I'm so sorry, I'll clap faster next time your Queen. Your highness." Wow!! I was shocked! I gave him a hefty punishment. As I read this article about taking a phone away for 2 hours or even 2 days until he is respectful, it does not seem enough to me because I know he will simply go to his room for 2 hours and read a book - easy as pie, he gets his phone back. He can behave when he wants to and 2 days would be nothing to him. I was making him do chores today and he did something I specifically told him twice not to do and I sent him to his room. I said, "Go". His reply was, "Yeah, you want me to go and never come back." As I was responding I drove him to school and picked him up since he lost his phone, he stomped up the stairs yelling "Lalalalala" so he could not hear me. I am at a loss of what to do with him and my younger four are sadly following in his footsteps.

Comment By : disrespected daily

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