Jan. 24, 2022

Ask Margaret - My Child is So Rude to Me!

It's not unusual for our "little besties" to grow into eye-rolling rude tweens and teens who can't seem to tolerate our existence - but that doesn't mean we have to put up with it.

If you have a kid who used to gaze at you with adoring eyes and now looks at you as if everything you say is the dumbest thing they've ever heard, you can probably relate to this week's question:

My 11 (almost 12) year old son started 6th grade this year and he has turned into a totally different person! I feel like I don’t even know him. He can’t seem to stop back talking, he’s selfish, and he’s really just rude.

The good news is that our kids turning on us and becoming disrespectful is normal, age-appropriate, and a sign that our kids are flexing their much-needed independence from us. But that doesn't mean that being rude is OK.

So how do we enforce boundaries of respectful treatment in our homes without our dialogues with our kids just becoming "Don't talk to me that way!" on constant repeat?

The main thing to remember is that you should not be being disrespected in your own home. Get used to repeating, "I'm happy to help you with that if you can ask in a pleasant tone of voice." It is extremely difficult, but your power in this situation comes from staying calm. Practice a gesture (such as putting up a "stop" hand) that goes along with your request to speak more politely. If this is not working don't be afraid to use our old friend the whiteboard. "If you speak rudely five times a day you get five checks ant then you are off screens for the day." It's a good discipline to get into because it means instead of yelling you are calmly replying "that's one check out of five."

While you are working this program find as many things as you can to lean in to for connection with your kids. Whether it's Roblox or playoff games, work on finding ways that you can enjoy talking to each other so that you're not spending all your timing yelling "Don't talk to me like that!"

Margaret cites this article from empoweringparents.com: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/disrespectful-child-or-teen-5-things-not-to-do-as-a-parent/