NEW

Tips and Resources to Help Keep Your Nervous System Calm During the Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place Times

Even if you're a nervous system regulation ninja, times like this can get us dysregulated. And the health of our nervous system impacts our patience levels, our anxiety levels, our reactivity, our ability to stay present, our sleep, our productivity...and, because our...

Tips To Calm Your Nervous System “In The Moment”

Bring your attention to your physical sensations in your body Feel the chair under your butt, your feet on the ground. Notice your breath and what it does. Pay attention to sensations in your body - heat, coolness, tingling, tension. Put your attention there. Notice...

How to Make Sure Your Kids FEEL Unconditionally Loved

I know you love your kids. Unconditionally. The real question isn’t whether we love our kids, but rather – do they FEEL loved unconditionally. You may be thinking, “Of course they do!” But so often I find that we make love and acceptance conditional—without even...

15 Tips to Stay Connected to Your Tweens and Teens

The most common theme with my clients who have kids aged 8 and up is their concern that their relationship is changing and their fear that they’ll lose their close connected relationship with their kids as they get older. My experience and research tells me that we...

Why I Ignore My Kids

The other day my son came home from school and I ignored him. Or that’s what it might have looked like. But really, I was connecting on his terms. Read more Expanded Views on Parenting. It kills me a little bit. When my kids come home, I want to check in: “How was...

Who Am I to Tell You How to Parent?

Against my better judgment and intentions, I still jump in with solutions even when I know my kids should figure stuff out on their own. I still give too much advice. Just tonight at bedtime my son told me something and I didn’t handle it the way I wished I would...

How to Respond When Your Kids “Disrespect” You

Is it important to you that your kids have a voice? You know – that they question things, not just take things at face value, and feel like they can stand up for things they believe in? Read more Expanded Views on Parenting. Yea? Me too. It’s actually really important...

How To Raise Kids To Be Prepared For This Wild New World

If we want our kids to be successful, emotionally healthy, and happy in this wild, new world we live in, we need to shift the parenting paradigm. Read more Expanded Views on Parenting Whether you’re looking into the eyes of your new baby, bringing your child to...

How to Stop Reacting and Start Responding to Your Teen

Parents and kids have the ability to trigger each other as no one else can. Read more Expanded Views on Parenting. “You have no idea what a bad day I had…I have no patience for you right now…” “What were you thinking!?!?” “You need to learn a lesson about respect,...

I Screwed Up! Repairing Trust With Your Child

Recently I was triggered and totally reacted to my son in a way I wished I had not. In the midst of my temper tantrum, I noticed his expression and could see that he was really impacted, I could see the sadness in his eyes and the discomfort in his body language. Read...

You are humanity's greatest hope.

Discover Your Path Forward

Is it important to you that your kids have a voice?
You know – that they question things, not just take things at face value, and feel like they can stand up for things they believe in?

Read more Expanded Views on Parenting.

Yea? Me too. It’s actually really important to me.

Sometimes that means that they disagree with me. They might say no. The might even dislike something I say so much that they speak to me in a tone or with words one might call “disrespectful.”

It’s tricky territory. We want them to have a voice. We want them to question things.
But not us, dammit. Ha, only half kidding here, right?

When we look at the long haul, we both can agree we want them to have a voice.

But we also want them to be able to be in relationships with people, expect that they will have bosses and other people of authority who they need to listen to even when they don’t want to, and we want them to be respectful of other people even when they don’t agree.

boy, teenager, cool

Photo by Pexels on Pixabay

When your kids use tone, roll their eyes, or give you attitude, I’ll bet that your knee jerk reaction is to “feel disrespected” and talk back (likely in a disrespectful tone), withdraw, tell them to stop, or do something else that is likely to shut down the conversation. It’s a natural tendency that I think we all have.

What if, instead, you were able to take a few breaths and try something like this:
“I notice you have a different opinion than me, and I get the feeling you are afraid I won’t listen to you or that I’m not listening to you. Your tone and words give me the impression you’re angry and frustrated. I’d love to do this over in a way where I give you my full attention and an open mind and YOU say what you were saying — disagreeing, arguing, or whatever — with respect and kindness. I promise you I am going to try to listen and not interrupt you if you promise you will believe that and not get defensive.”

That’s just one example, there are many ways to do this. I know it’s not easy, but kids don’t come into the world knowing this stuff, we need to teach them how to communicate.

The best ways to teach them how to communicate are:

  • Modeling—This is the BEST way. Treat your kids as you would like them to treat you and others. Pay attention next time you and your spouse disagree. Are you speaking and listening respectfully or are your kids learning to respond with anger, a tone, or tuning out?
  • Do-overs—When you don’t like the way you’ve handled something with your child (or how your child has handled something), ask if you can do a do-over where both of you can try again with more awareness and empathy.
  • Actual language—You actually give them some new language: “When you say x, I think most people might take that as a defensive comment. Would you be willing to say something like y instead?” Sometimes to lighten it up a bit, I’ll even just say “What I think I heard you say was _” and they will laugh and say, “yeah, what you said.” (an example, if they say “no, I’m not doing that”, I might say “what I think I heard you say is that you’d like a chance to discuss some alternatives.”) And sometimes I will suggest how they could handle it in the future – “When you don’t want to do something, let’s assume I’m open to discussing it. Perhaps you could say to me ‘Mom, I’d rather not, can we talk about other options?’”
  • No judging—They’re learning. They aren’t perfect and neither are we. Every time they screw up is a great time to meet them with empathy as they learn to navigate this scary and confusing world.
    Your kids can be free thinkers. They can have a strong voice—and they can share that voice respectfully with others and with you. But it takes practice for them (and sometimes for us parents, too).

This week, let go of the idea that your kids are being purposely disrespectful and help them find the line between free thinking and respect.

NOTE: Only you can know if their disrespect has crossed the line to being abusive. This blog post refers to run-of-the-mill kid stuff but if you believe you are being abused by your child, please get support.

Share in the comments how you balance giving your kids a voice and teaching them how to be kind and respectful.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This