Disciplining Disrespectful Children

Updated on January 03, 2011
S.H. asks from Magazine, AR
13 answers

What discipline steps do you take when your children are disrespectful to you or any other family member?

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answers from Washington DC on

it's not a matter of discipline, it's a matter of the family's attitude toward each other overall. if children are consistently disrespectful, they don't need the right punishment, they need to be in the right atmosphere.
sounds like a parenting overhaul is in order.

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answers from Houston on

It depends on their age and what they did. Toddlers/young elem schoolers, time out or small grounding and then an apology and we explain to them the importance of respect.

Older kids/teens, spend time in their room to reflect on what they did and write a one -two page essay on the importance of respect.

But we find, that if the child is treated with respect and politeness, then they are most likely to return it.

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answers from Portland on

Across the ages: (I do this with both my 3.5 year old son when he's being too rough with my body, because we don't really have a 'disrespect' issue in our home, and even with older children)

Some things to point out:

"Wow. I really don't like what you said/how you are talking to me."

"Oh. Do you see Daddy's face? How does he look? He looks upset. He doesn't like what you said/how you are talking to him."

and then " Let's try it again-- what do you want to tell him/her? All right, let's try that in a friendly way now." and help them find a more appropriate way to state their feelings.

Mouthy, older children need a bit more of a firm hand. "People are for speaking to, not for yelling/being rude to." I speak to children myself without sarcasm and try not to give snippy answers, so I expect the same from them. If the child can't pull themselves out of their attitude, I try to give them context. "I see that you aren't ready to be pleasant right now. The place to be disagreeable is your room. Please stay in there until you are ready to be friendly/ solve the problem in a friendly way."

If they are grumbling about having to do something I've asked, most of the time I let it go and just ignore it, so long as they are getting the task done. If not, they can go spend some time in their room, or they may sit on a chair until they are ready to follow directions. It all depends on the situation; some kids are grumpy/sassy because they do need a break from the activity of the day (esp. if they haven't had much downtime). Other kids are just being a pill, some days, and trying to get some attention for this mouthing off. I try to address what's behind each incident before deciding how I will handle it.

I still remember two mouthy 9 year olds who, when asked a question, rolled their eyes in unison and said "Whatever!" They were a little surprised when I explained to them that I'd given them a choice, and since they'd replied "whatever", it meant that I could choose what *I* liked. That significantly decreased the usage of that word for a while. Fortunately, too, they grew out of it.

The book "How to talk so kids will listen...and how to listen so kids will talk" by Faber and Mazlish can also be a big help in this area. Required reading for every parent, in my opinion, because this book is wonderful!

Good luck and lots of patience,


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Teaching children to say the phrase "I'm sorry" serves them well throughout their lives.

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answers from Johnstown on

Depends on the situation. It ranges from time-outs, spanking, standing in corners, taking away of favorite item, no tv time, or literally being as close to the family member they were having issues with in the first place.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I love Hazel's suggestions, and agree that "How to Talk…" is an amazing parenting resource – we use those techniques all the time with my now-5 grandson, with reliably-good results. I've suggested it to young parents dealing with all sorts of family issues, and they have all found it practical, positive, and helpful.

Respect is a funny concept if you look at it carefully – in most areas of life, it has to be earned, but at home, it's a given that parents are to be respected even if their own behavior or tone of voice is rude, abrupt, sarcastic, or otherwise negative. That doesn't work so well for children. They are "mirrors," they are honest, and fairness is an obsession. So understandably, in their world view, what should apply to the child should apply to the adults, also.

So, evaluate honestly the tone you use toward your children and other family members, and be sure it conveys the respect and good wishes you would want them to use with you.

"Discipline" in its original use meant teaching, not punishment. If children are bringing home "'tude" from other social contacts, it's a great opportunity to look for "teachable moments," which are often more effective at learning why a principle is important than if a "mistake" is never made. I found with my daughter and grandson and many children I've worked with over decades (including angry at-risk kids I tutored in high school), being positive and affirming is far more effective at producing positive and affirming behaviors in others than punishment is.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Oh, we could have a LONG discussion about this one, but I'll give you the Cliff Notes version...

We have the offender come back and depending on how bad it was, either go to the "naughty mat" or explain to them what they did and WHY it was wrong, then we have them apologize and give a hug. If the naughty mat comes into play, then after that, we still have them return and explain, etc.

If it continues, then they lose privileges.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

guidlines that registered caretakers have to follow is 1 min per age rule...that's a good one to follow, they have to sit in what ever designated time out spot you put them in, and the time is 1 min per age. if they do not sit there in time out the entire time, then it resets until they fullfill the "sentence"


answers from Washington DC on


I ask the person if they are treating people the way they want to be treated? If the answer is NO - then they need to adjust.

I don't think the answer has EVER been yes.

But I tell my children to treat others the way YOU want to be treated. There have been times when I will talk to my son (10 years old) just as he is talking to me and he says "well, you don't need to be soo rude!" I tell him - look in the mirror bubby - I'm treating you like you treat me." Oooooh. I didn't hear it. Well, i did.

If it's really nasty - I take them to their room and talk with them there. I also make them apologize for their rudeness!!

Hope this helps!



answers from Washington DC on

Depending on how old your children are, I would look at each incident as an opportunity to teach. If they are really young, they may just not know that they were disrespectful. If they are old enough to know better, I would find out if there was something else that was wrong but also ask them to make it good with whoever they disrespected (an apology letter or call...). Also explain to them that even if the other person offended them, they can choose to handle it better on their end, thus avoiding further awkward feelings between them and the other person. You can even do role play to help them be ready the next time to respond appropriately - even if it means walking away.



answers from Milwaukee on

For me it depends on the disrespect and the age. My mother expects a ton of respect from my daughter (5) and gives none in return. To my mom, not giving a hug and kiss before she leaves is disrespect. I tell my kiddo she doesn't have to hug and kiss, but she does need to be polite and say good bye.


answers from Modesto on

We all must learn to appologize. Explain what the actual disrespect was to the offender and have them appologize, if you cant get a genuine appology use the discipline technique that works best for your child until you recieve the result you are looking for.
Many adults do not know how to say "I'm sorry", if they did and used it there would be a lot less marital problems.



answers from Houston on

what age it depends on the age.

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