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How To Deal With Disrespectful Children

As parents, we often find it a bit challenging to balance our love for our children and our need to handle them appropriately when they get out of line with us.

We brought them into the world, so we care about their feelings and their happiness. Sometimes, we allow them to disrespect us because we don’t want to treat them the way we would treat an outsider who would say or do something to us that we deem offensive.

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For this, we often find ourselves in a pickle because we tend to allow the level of disrespect from our children to go too far.

Typical bad behavior that parents face from their disrespectful kids

The level of disrespect that a parent receives from their child depends on the age of their child. If their child is below the age of 5-years-old, the type of disrespect typically comes from a child that loses it publicly because they can’t get what they want in a grocery store.

We have all seen this scenario where a child screams bloody murder at their mother because she refuses to purchase candy or a toy that they want.

We hear the child screaming how much they hate their mother, and we see the poor mom attempting with everything she has to remain her composure at that time. In a scenario like this, the best thing to do is allow the moment to pass for the sake of embarrassment, but to deal with the issue right away when the child is taken home.

Explaining the level of disrespect that they gave and how it made you feel is a great way to ensure that you are teaching your child how to identify unacceptable behavior and to also accept accountability for how their behavior made you feel at that time.

If you are dealing with a teenager who tends to serve disrespectful pie at all times, then the approach has to be somewhat different.

Explaining to a teenager how something made you feel can tend to go into one ear and out the other. In this case, you will have to be a bit more creative. If you have a teen that tends to hang up in your face prior to your conversation ending simply because they disagree with what you are saying, for example, you will have to show a bit of tough love.

Begin by letting your teen know that their actions are both hurtful and disrespectful. They will say that they understand what you are sharing, but in actuality, they only understand for the moment. If they continue their bad behavior and disrespect, you will have to show them what it feels like to be mistreated by someone you both trust and love.

If hanging up in your face is the bad deed they love to serve up, then you will have to let them know that you will no longer talk with them over the phone.

They must communicate with you via in person or by way of text. If they call, you might have to ignore the call and then immediately respond by text to make sure everything is alright. They will ask why you refuse to communicate by phone, and this is when you can remind them that they have no phone etiquette and that their inability to be respectful just can’t be tolerated.

It will all be a bit uncomfortable at first because it will require an adjustment, but it will be necessary if you truly want them to understand that disrespect will not be allowed.

It’s not easy dealing with our children who bring their anger, disappointments, and pain to us by directing their emotions our way. It is hurtful, and it makes us feel as if we are walking doormats.

However, we have the power to teach them how to treat us better, all while teaching them how to be better people in the process. Everything can be taught…even respect.

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About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.


  1. Not sure why a teenager would be talking about something to his mom by phone. Not talking by, I am assuming cell phone but telling them texting is ok? Seems to me that is ‘just as much’ talking by phone.

    My answer to a disrepectful teen with a cell phone, and bill paid by the parent(s) is to take the cell phone
    away. No texting, not talking except in person. Then too, parents must SHOW what teen does not as yet
    know, which is repect for authority (parents, teachers, police, laws of a community, grandma and grandpa,
    etc) Start having family hour after dinner in which a teen ‘child’ can bring up ANY topic for discussion,
    one on one. (let younger siblings play in their room or do this when younger one’s are sleeping)
    Show the teen what respect for elders is about by having grandma and/or grandpa to Sunday meals
    to talk of their days of life. Listen and ask them questions, show interest, Let teen see how smooth the conversing goes (without saying a word, respect for others lives is being taught)

    Have the minister or priest to a Sunday dinner (or rabbi) let them talk of their vocation and how they
    discovered it or just that they enjoy doing (whatever: a sport, a hobby) It might not be one’s own
    interest but it shows respect for the views of someone else.

    The best way to teach a teen to be respectful is to teach them: it is better to listen than to talk. We
    have two ears and one mouth and EVERYONE wants to speak what is really OPINION. Opinions are good
    for bringing TALK … but respectful people are humble enough to know there is another opinion and from
    the two ideas … there will come ONE TRUTH that bonds a relationship.

  2. A great way to teach a child to be more respectful is to point out a positive role model that epitomizes the types of behaviors you want to encourage. For example, point out the mature behavior of the President…. oh wait, never mind.

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