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We often forget that children aren’t born with a built-in sense of respect for others. Our children need to be taught to be respectful.

Think about it, babies are born having to manipulate their world to get their needs met, and they do this primarily by crying. Crying is natural and appropriate for babies—it’s how they communicate that they’re hungry or wet or need to be held.

But as kids get older, it’s our job as parents to teach them respectful ways of getting their needs met. And crying, manipulation, and disrespect are certainly not respectful ways to accomplish this.

Unfortunately, many kids have not been taught respect or choose not to be respectful even though they know better. Indeed, it’s common to see children and teens arguing with adults (or ignoring them outright), using foul language, copping an attitude, and not using manners or respecting those in authority. Sadly, this has become the norm for many children and teens.

In my opinion, YouTube, movies, music, and video games all seem to glorify a disrespectful, angry, rude way of dealing with others. As a result, we have to work harder as parents to teach our kids to be respectful.

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More importantly, though, many parents have not established a firm culture of accountability in their homes. Part of the problem is that parents are often busy, making it much harder to respond immediately to our kids. Let’s face it, it’s easier to let things slide when you’re worn out and stressed from working so hard.

Finally, I believe that many parents have a hard time looking at their kids in a realistic light. I can’t overstate how important it is to be willing to look at your children realistically, noting both their strengths and their areas of weakness. Being realistic allows you to see inappropriate behavior as it happens and address it—and not make excuses or ignore it.

How can you change the culture in your own home if disrespectful behavior is starting—or is already a way of life? Here are nine things you can do as a parent today to start getting respect from your kids.

1. Remember That Your Child Is Not Your Friend

It’s not about your child liking you or even thanking you for what you do. It’s important to remember that your child is not your friend. He’s your child. Your job is to coach him to function effectively in the world and behave respectfully to others, not just you.

When you think your child might be crossing the line, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Would I let the neighbor say these things to me? Would I let a stranger?” If the answer is no, don’t let your child do it, either.

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Someday when your child becomes an adult, your relationship may become more of a friendship. But for now, it’s your job to be his parent, his teacher, his coach, and his limit setter—not the buddy who lets him get away with things.

2. Confront Disrespect Early and Often

It’s good to confront disrespectful behavior early, if possible. If your child is rude or disrespectful, don’t turn a blind eye. Intervene and say:

“We don’t talk to each other that way in this family.”

Giving consequences when your kids are younger is going to pay off in the long run. As a parent, it’s crucial that if you see your child being disrespectful to admit it and then try to nip it in the bud.

Also, if your child is about to enter the teen years (or another potentially difficult phase) think about the future. Some parents I know are already planning how they will address behavior as their ADD daughter (who is now 11) becomes a teenager. They’re learning skills to prepare for their interactions with her at a later time. This preparation can only help them as they move forward together as a family.

3. Parent as a Team

It’s beneficial for you and your co-parent to be on the same page when it comes to your child’s behavior. Make sure one of you isn’t allowing the disrespectful behavior while the other is trying to intercede. Sit down together and talk about your rules, and then come up with a plan of action—and a list of consequences you might give—if your child breaks the rules.

Related content: When Parents Disagree: How to Parent as a Team

4. Teach Your Child Basic Social Interaction Skills

It may sound old fashioned, but it’s important to teach your child basic manners like saying “please” and “thank you.” When your child deals with her teachers in school or gets her first job and has these skills to fall back on, it will go a long way.

Understand that using manners—just a simple “excuse me” or “thank you”—is also a form of empathy. It teaches your kids to respect others and acknowledge their impact on other people. When you think about it, disrespectful behavior is the opposite of being empathetic and having good manners.

5. Be Respectful When You Correct Your Child

When your child is disrespectful, correct them in a respectful manner. Yelling and getting upset and having your own attitude in response to theirs is not helpful. Getting upset only escalates their disrespectful behavior. The truth is, if you allow their rude behavior to affect you, it’s difficult to be an effective teacher.

Instead, you can pull your child aside and give them a clear message of what is acceptable. You don’t need to shout at them or embarrass them.

One of our friends was excellent at this particular parenting skill. He would pull his kids aside, say something quietly (I usually had no idea what it was), and it usually changed their behavior immediately.

Use these incidents as teachable moments by pulling your kids aside calmly, making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with appropriate consequences.

Related content: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work

6. Set Realistic Expectations for Your Child’s Behavior

Being realistic about your child’s behavior patterns may mean that you need to lower your expectations. Don’t plan a huge road trip with your kids, for example, if they don’t like to ride in the car. If your child has trouble in large groups and you plan an event for 30 people, you’re likely to set everyone up for disappointment, and probably an argument.

It is often helpful to set limits beforehand. For example, if you’re going to go out to dinner, be clear with your kids about your expectations. Clear expectations will help your child behave and, in some ways, will make them feel safer. They will understand what is expected of them and will know the consequences if they don’t meet those expectations. If they meet your goals, certainly give them credit, but if they don’t, follow through on whatever consequences you’ve set up for them.

7. Clarify the Limits When Things Are Calm

When you’re in a situation where your child is disrespectful, that’s not the ideal time to do a lot of talking about limits or consequences. At a later time, you can talk with your child about her behavior and your expectations.

8. Discuss Disrespect When Your Child is Calm

If your child is disrespectful or rude, talk about what happened once things are calm. Talk about how it could have been dealt with differently. A calm conversation is a chance for you to listen to your child and to understand her problem better. Try to stay objective. You can say:

“Pretend a video camera recorded the whole thing. What would I see?”

This is also a perfect time to have your child describe what she could have done differently.

9. Don’t Take Your Child’s Behavior Personally

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. All kids have conflicts with their 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. As a result, they often overreact or underreact to the situation. When they overreact, they become too rigid. And when they underreact, 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 it won’t teach him to be more respectful.

Conclusion

Understand that if you haven’t been able to intervene early with your kids, you can start at any time. Even if your child is constantly exhibiting disrespectful behavior, you can begin stepping in and setting those clear limits.

Kids really do want limits, even if they protest. And they will protest! The message that they get when you step in and set limits is that they’re cared about, that they’re loved, and that you really want them to be successful and able to function well in the world. Our kids won’t thank us now, but that’s okay. It’s not about getting them to thank us, it’s about doing the right thing.

About

Janet Lehman, MSW, has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years. A veteran social worker, she specializes in child behavior issues — ranging from anger management and oppositional defiance to more serious criminal behavior in teens. She is co-creator of The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide To Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™.

Comments (39)
  • Amber

    @Hugo, I have had similar issues with my kid. What I noticed is that having rules/consequences and following through consistently initially led to outbursts and "crys for attention." What kept things from getting physical was to ignore the tantrums or go for a walk after so my kid had time to reflect and cool down and this prevented things from getting physical. The time that it got physical was when he didn't go to bed when told and kept being defiant. I should have removed myself from the situation and went for a walk but I fell for it and he got a reaction from me as he continued to be defiant I continued to get unset. It escalated to him trying to set me off by spraying perfume in my face. He refused to hand it over and my husband tried to wrestle it from him (many times we should have walked away and doled out consequences at a later time). While wrestling for the perfume he punched my husband and went into a downward spiral trying to hurt others in a rage so we had to physically retrain him. He refused to calm down and police were called since we didn't know what to do. He admitted to police the spraying perfume and punching and got charged with two counts of battery. He had to spend the night in a Juvy cell and it was out of our hands. When he admitted to committing battery, the police were forced to arrest him and keep him for 12hrs and charge him. He can get these removed off his record when he completes anger management classes and therapy sessions. The lesson learned was to as much as possible walk away when they make these bad choices rather than get into a power struggle. When they refuse to hand something over, wrestling for it with your teen doesn't end up as it did when they were 5. Tell them the consequence for not listening, for continuing to not listen, and discuss things at a calmer time. You can always take away other things and privileges when they refuse to hand something over, or do what you are asking. Let them know what choice they are making with their actions and enforce a consequence at a later date. This was my experience anyways. It seems like the best option is to reduce things that will lead to a situation becoming physical where someone can be seriously injured or someone will end up in handcuffs.

    Just writing as a concerned adult that knows how hard parenting a teen can be.

    Your new friend and struggling teen parent,

    Amber

  • Hugo

    My child and I already had two separate physical confrontation. Both times my son placed his hands on my aggressively and both times I had to subdue him to calm down. The second time regardless if I subdued him and allowed him to get up, I had to take him back down again to control him. I had to call the police and get their help.

    When they arrived, my son admitted to them that it was his fault and he should have listened but once they left, he treated me disrespectfully and not wanted to try to make amends.

  • veena sharma
    Articles on parenting are very good .this article which is related to make the kids calm nd cool and enable them to learn how to respect others is the need of the hour. But one thing that is very much important is; "Values are not taught rather values are caught.More We will have to tell the parents through activities or short movies. This is a time to sensitize the parents who are blindly involved in materialism and false show off nd spoiling their kids.Rest is OK
  • Hannah
    My 10 year old adopted child was drug exposed and has always had a great deal of difficulty with self regulation. Although she can be very sweet, but when she becomes anxious/angry - these often together - she often becomes disrespectful with teachers or coaches. Sometimes the disrespectMore is simply an angry look, sometimes it is oppositional words. Although this used to me more frequent, now it mostly occurs when she has had food dye. When anger overtakes her brain, it is very hard for her, in that time, to calm herself. I have taught her to be respectful, however, when I am not there, and this happens, she still is, at times, disrespectful. The sad thing about it is that she gets a reputation as a disrespectful child, even when these things don't occur very frequently. Some adults will continue to work with her, but others just write her off don't see that there is a different person inside.
  • John

    nice article. thx.

    look at this article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/kids-stealing-from-parents-what-you-need-to-know-now/

  • Annie
    I have a 10 year old boy who has been challenging. He started middle school and many transitions/ changes from friends moving away to going to a new after care program with all new people. All this emotion is a lot for my son. I realized IMore react and take things personally and that’s not objective. We have work to do and this article gave me valuable insight and reminded me of so many things I forget to do. I’m feeling hopeful today.
  • Teen
    So I just read all of this but what do you do when you just became a parent of a teenager . No foster parent legal Guardian because the parent A bandit them
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I hear you. It can be challenging enough to address basic adolescent disrespect and attitude, and it’s likely that these issues are amplified for you due to your new role as an authority figure for this teen, as well as the emotional response to the abandonment this teen hasMore experienced. Despite this trauma, it’s still going to be important to be clear about your rules and expectations for behavior in your home. One particular aspect to keep in mind for your situation is keeping your expectations realistic, as outlined in the article above. While this teen is fortunate to have someone like you step up and provide a stable, loving home after this abandonment, it’s not likely that s/he will instantly respect your authority and view you as a new replacement parent. Even if you were in this teen’s life previously, this is a new relationship for both of you, and it needs some time to develop. While I recognize that the situation is different from entering into a blended family, you might still find some useful tips in Blended Family? The 5 Secrets of Effective Stepparenting. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you. Take care.
  • Nicola

    How do I gain respect from my child's father in order to gain a respectful child?

    (Only 6 months old)

    I believe he is selfish & sexist... do I stand a chance in moulding my child into a respectful individual?

    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. Experiencing conflict with a partner is quite common, especially when you have an infant. While you cannot “make” your child’s father respect you, you can work together to co-parent in a productive way. You might find some helpful strategies in When Parents Disagree:More 10 Ways to Parent as a Team. If you are having difficulty finding common ground, you might also consider working with local supports, such as parenting classes or a counselor, to help you develop a plan moving forward. For assistance locating this type of support in your community, try contacting Family Lives at 0808 800 2222. I understand how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • SwapnaJadhav
    Fantastic tips and information
  • SharletteBuxton
    Parents have to walk the talk. Parents who are disrespectful to or about others themselves will never have respectful kids. Kids learn what they see and when they see their own parents being rude, judgemental, selfish, and just plain disrespectful to others then it doesn't set the scene for raisingMore respectful kids.
  • LRMama
    It would be really helpful if you could share appropriate things to say to your child when you take them aside to speak quietly and help them get back on track. And also, what is a good reaction when your child is being disrespectful or not listening? What areMore good, effective, fair consequences? I try to make the punishment fit the crime, but there isn't always a clear path to follow. I understand that it's better to get in front of the issue and reward good behavior, but that isn't always possible. Concrete examples would be wonderful, if you can. Thank you.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      LRMama Thank you for your questions.  As Janet points out in the article above, it tends to be most effective to talk about your expectations for respectful behavior during a calm time.  This way, when you take your child aside when s/he is being disrespectful, you can use simple, shortMore sentences to redirect.  One example might be, “Remember what we talked about: if you continue to yell in the store, we will have to go home, and shopping will be done for today.”  If your child continues to be disrespectful, Megan Devine outlines some effective and ineffective responses in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/disrespectful-child-or-teen-5-things-not-to-do-as-a-parent/.  In addition, you might find suggestions on setting up effective consequences in another article by Janet Lehman, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-get-your-child-to-listen-9-secrets-to-giving-effective-consequences/.  Please let us know if you have additional questions; take care.
  • Nikki A
    Mom of boys   I have the same issue.  My boys are 23 months apart.  I find that my 8 year old lies a lot, and my 6 year old starts stuff with the older one but he doesn't get caught.  Only the older one gets caught when he retaliates. IMore feel like I am always reprimanding my older one and having behavior discussions with him.  Last week he told me that the younger one starts it but he keeps getting into trouble.  I put them both in a room and had them tell each other what they don't like the other one doing to them,  It took a while, but they made peace, for now. It's definitely a love hate relationship between them.  Good luck momma!
  • Sharine
    All you have to do is tell her that if you don't focus on school then you'll get held back.
  • Sharine
    You should tell to get a different ride ?,like your other friends that are girls.
  • Sharine
    Tell him to respect you and say please and thank you ? but if he doesn't listen then say that he'll have to be punished.
  • Sharine
    If I was you,I would make the 11 year old daughter wright down every thing she needs or wants,for the 15 year old daughter,I would teach her how to treat adults fairly.
  • Sharine
    Thanks!!!
  • Sharine
    You know what? What I would do is to not give in to her commands, she made thinking I'm the boss around here!!!!! You need to say no until she respects you. You've got this !!!!!!!!!!
  • Sharine
    Look, all you need to do is if you talked to her then it's time do make a promise: let's say that she likes candy, you can give her a peice of it if she try's hard on her work!!!!??????????????????
  • Sharine
    I had the same thing in my 16 year old daughter to!!!!! What you really need to do is, talk nice about your husband, and.... make a play date with your husband and your 16 year old daughter!!!!!!!???????????????????????????
  • Sharine
    Come on!!!!!!! You can do that......... with my 7 year old boy it was the same thing!!!!!! Then I stepped up, and made them spend time with me and it worked!!!!! Ya see, you need to love them and also ask or make them spend their time with you!!!!!?????????????????
  • Sharine
    You are sooo kind!!!!! I bet you guys are nicer than any one in the world!!!!!!!?????????????????
  • MeBea
    Tough love.. He's treating you badly..
  • MeBea
    I totally agree. You made some very important points.. I believe it its an attitude of disrespect & the son's of disobedience.. They've taken everything away, you use to have to respect your elders, police, teachers, clergy, humanity.. Now everything is so egocentric.. Me me me, its what I want..More Who cares about you & what you want kind of world.. Its awful
  • Prile
    I believe that children copy their parents behavior. Many disrespectful kids are just doing what they see their parents doing or use disrespect as an outlet  for problems they have at home. It can also be a way of dealing with their own anxiety.  Adressing the problem of being disrespectfulMore and being blind to the underlying cause is just not effectieve and stressfull.
  • AAnna

    Hi, I have 2 sons (age 12 and 10). They r good company to each other but at times fights badly with each other. Which includes hitting ,using abusive language , passing bad/ negative remarks.

    And with my younger one who's 10 year old .i find he has a very negative approach in life. Like school is not good , badminton coach is not good , school wants to earn money so they take us got excursions etc. I get complaints from school that he is disturbing class. His attitude is not good . Would say no to everything what teacher asks him to do. ( I don't want to sing etc) Of late his academic performance has also fallen. I don't know how to handle. Pls help

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      AAnna 

      Sibling

      fighting is a common issue which many parents have to address at one point or

      another.  Something we advise parents to do is to separate your kids if

      they are becoming abusive toward each other.  Otherwise, we recommend

      allowing them to resolve these conflicts on their own.  You can find more

      information on this topic in our articles on sibling fighting, such as https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/siblings-at-war-in-your-home-declare-a-ceasefire-now/  As for your 10 year

      old, I encourage you to do your best to ignore his negativity and bad attitude,

      and focus on his behavior and actions instead.  If he is not meeting his

      responsibilities at home or at school, it can be useful to have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ with him during a calm time about what he can do

      differently moving forward.  Please let us know if you have any additional

      questions.

      • Momof3
        I have raised 3 very physical boys. When they were little they were the sweetest little boys ever. As they got older learned new words to all each other and fight cuz that's what boys do to some degree, you just have to learn to let them figure it out.More We can't fight all there battles. It was a hard lesson to learn. They will grow out of it and become good friends.?
  • Zoidorous
    This article is wrong on so many levels. Our young learn what they live. If they are not respected as individuals then they can never be respectfull. They have to be shown these things not be told about them or ordered to produce them. Live and lead by example. IfMore you want your kids to be respectfull then respect them, discuss and negotiate dont just order "because i said so" how is that respecting someones feelings or concerns, how is that regarding the wishes of another. The problem is that we as parents tend to mimic and reproduce the same authoratarian relationship with our children as we have with our governments. To that end we get rebelious children because they know we dont actually agree with that relationship entirely for ourselves so why would they except it. Then they just see us as hypocrits and possibly even weak and idiotic. Most of our behaviour of not all of it comes from mimicking what we see habitualy over and over again. All they see and get from us is disregard so thats all we get back. Its simple.
    • Marimar
      Hello Zoidorious?I disagree with your comment to some extent. I regard my children HIGHLY. I am very respectful to those around me and my children. Yet at times they do forget thenselves and behave disrespectfully/inappropriately in accordance to what our sociatle (non-primative) standards are (we are humanMore animals and untamed as children). To the articles point and a point I'm sure you'd agree with; their influences are far more reaching than just their interaction with their parent(s) (ie peers, teachers, media etc.) So there has to be times where you must guide them or remind them of the right behavior. This isnt about authority, it is about guidance. It is our job as parents to lead and guide and do what ever it takes to help them lead constructive lives. Shoot we are not perfect either. It is an unrealistic expectation on ourselves to solely rely on a "lead by example" approach. Their will be times where we mess up(and I've said it to my kids)..."kids I acted wrong in this situation...dont do what I did." Furthermore, without guidance and intentional teaching, imporatant 2 way dialogue could be missed. I totally agree though that we can talk talk talk all day about respect, but if we dont exhibit it ourselves, it's all in vein. Good luck to all parents reading this. We are all trying our best to be the best parents for our kids...not easy..we just need to keep trying.
    • MeBea
      Just a thought while I agree with most of what you said & the old saying you give respect if you want respect, you also have to take into consideration that it has to be taught at home & lived by - like you said, but what about the childMore that no matter what respect & direction they are giving they just beat to their own drum? Or they don't seem to ever get it? The ones that are truly very egocentric self concerned without the capacity to put themselves in someone else's shoes? No matter how much you show & teach respect?
  • Tiredofitallmom
    I have 2 girls. One is 16 and the other will be 14 soon. Both of them talk to me and their father horribly and have no respect for our feelings. Every day it is world war 3 at our house. I am usually in the middle . The girlsMore argue with each other or each one takes  turns arguing with their dad. Most arguments are over senseless things. Television, music, who sits where on what couch. I cannot stand all the arguing. My children do not have things that can be taken away for their behavior. No cell phones, computers, video games Nada. How do we teach them respect for US and us more patients with them. Often our day ends with a yell fest then everyone sits around angry until bedtime, then we give half-hearted sorries. Any advice.
    • Darlene EP

      Tiredofitallmom 

      It is understandable you are

      looking for ways to address all the arguing going on in your home, it sounds

      like it is very difficult to live that way. The first step in changing these

      kinds of behaviors is to know your triggers and how your responding when your

      buttons are being pushed. Then have a plan as to how you and your husband will

      start to change that pattern of responding. Janet Lehman talks more about this

      in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-you-cant-really-win-an-argument-with-your-child/. Also, as Janet states

      in the above article, try not to get pulled into arguments, especially between

      your 2 daughters, by taking their behavior personally and responding out of

      emotion. It is best to remove yourself as soon as you see an argument starting.

      That way you will be much less likely to get pulled into it. I know this is a

      very frustrating situation to be dealing with. Thank you for writing in. Let us

      know if you have any further questions.

    • Liz26
      Hi Gbu .. I'm going tru a hard situation my self with my 13 year old son ! So I can relate with how you feel ! I'm a believer and me and my family attend to a bible teaching Christian church . And I told you .. If itMore wasn't for the mercy of God i don't know we're i would be .. There is many Cristian camps ( retreat) I send my kids when I can .. I will recommend to find something around your area ! I don't know where you located but my church is doing one in ago 5-7 2016 they preach the word of God there and do many conferences !! For more info go to there fb page cross fire youth ministry .dont give up .. I will be praying for your house .. Hold on to God in the situation ., cuz when we are week he is strong .. He is our hope .. Don't lose faith and pray over them ., if they don't let you do it when they sleep .. And ask God to take over !! Gbu
      • MeBea
        I also believe that a good christian belief system & back ground can help & goes a long way.. But what about that child that doesn't get it ever & beats to their own drum no matter what.. That doesn't have the capacity to put them selfs in someone else'sMore shoes. I am actually starting to believe that.. They don't have the capacity to, that it wasn't born in them, I can't expect to alter their genes, it wasn't in their to begin with, you can't breed two donkeys & get a thoroughbred.
  • windywendy

    I have a 17 year old son, he goes to college and works but I am getting so frustrated as he has no respect for us at home. He won't tidy up after himself and just tells me to "shut up". If he invites a friend round he won't introduceMore them.  New Years Eve I worked a 16 hour shift, when I got home he was on the sofa and the mess was unbelievable. I asked him to tidy up but he just got his 8 year old sister to do it. I tried to take his lap top of him and it got in to a pulling game !  I finally got the lap top from him and he took my mobile phone for two days and refused to give it back.  I have spoken to him and asked him to be respectful and considerate but nothing......    My 8 year old daughter now copies him and I am finding it increasingly difficult and more resentful.   I have stopped doing his washing, ironing or giving him lifts to work and explained it works both ways, but it hasn't make any difference at all.   Any ideas please ?

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