I recently had a mother email me and say “I am having a hard time with my son’s behavior toward me. He is talking back, being disrespectful, and plain nasty at times.
I was wondering if there were any quick parent tips you could help me with.
Books, videos, or ideas?”
This mother’s child is ten years old, but the parenting approach that I recommend for elementary and middle school children is pretty much the same across the board.
When I ask most parents about what the consequences are for talking back and disrespect, a lot of times there is not a consistent approach.
I recommend the following: Make a list of your child’s privileges – iPad or Nintendo, television, playing at the neighbor’s house or riding bikes outside after dinner, cookies and desserts, juice boxes, special toys. American kids generally have quite a few privileges.
If your child breaks a rule, tell your child that you will remove all their privileges (disrespect and not following an adult’s directions should be on the list). In my house, we call the removal of privileges “restriction,” but some families call this “grounding” or “punishment.”
Make a separate list of rules. Write them down and put them in your home where the children can be reminded of the rules as well as the privileges, they will lose for breaking the rules.
However, remove the privileges only for 30 minutes or 60 minutes (not for a whole week – that’s too long for a child of this age). During the 60 minutes, require your child to do a chore (they can sweep the porch or clean the back-patio doors or something…) Tell your child that they can have their privileges back after they do their chore and then come back to tell you what they did wrong and give you an apology.
If your child whines or complains or has a bad attitude, tell them they must start over with 30 more minutes and another chore.
After they have given a sincere apology and completed their chore (and it’s been 30 minutes) now they can have their privileges back and are no longer grounded or on restriction or whatever you call it in your house.
This is one idea that most of my clients have had good results with.
It’s not too hard to do because you only must be firm and supervise for a short time – not like grounding them from video games for a whole week. If you follow-through and put your child on restriction a couple of times, most children then comply with a simple reminder, “If you do not change your attitude right now you will be on restriction.”
Another helpful thing to think about is natural consequences as well as how you communicate when you are correcting your child. I will follow-up with another newsletter with more tips on respectful communication while disciplining your child next week!
If you need more assistance or strategies for how to improve your relationship with your child, please reach out to one of our Relationship Repair Associates right away!