When A Child Is Disrespectful When They’re In Yuck

 

What This Situation Is Like for Parents

It doesn’t feel good when anyone treats you with disrespect. But when your children nasty to you — especially when you spend so much energy doing things for them!! — it can push you over the edge.

When they complain after you’ve made them an entire meal (that they were perfectly happy with last week), or

when they refuse to say hello to a neighbor who has been nothing but kind to them…. Well, there is no excuse for that.

Children need to learn to think of feelings other than their own. You don’t want to raise entitled, spoiled brats! But at the very least, you want to raise children who act respectfully toward you and others. 

 

What This Situation Is Like for Kids

Because children’s brains are not fully developed, and they simply do not have the natural ability to handle their big emotions. 

Emotions like disappointment, frustration, or even feeling disrespected or helpless (any form of Yuck), feel huge to children and their underdeveloped brains. (We all know that Yuck is a powerful beast. It has a way of turning even the calmest adults into irrational, scary people!)

And unfortunately, when they don’t have healthy ways to cope, many instinctively turn Yuck out in the form of aggression or disrespect. 

Until they have other tools, children naturally turn their Yuck out on others… or in on themselves. 

 

 

How It Usually Goes

When A Child Is Disrespectful When They’re in Yuck

 

Scenario: 

Dylan is supposed to wear certain outfits each day for Spirit Week at school. His mom takes him to two stores but neither one has the type of green shirt he needs for the next day. When his mom tells him he can use his brother’s shirt that has some green in it, he says, “That’s the stupidest idea ever! No way! I’m not doing that!” 

Mom: Dylan! I’m just making a suggestion.

Dylan: Well it’s a dumb one.

Mom: Don’t you dare talk to me like that!

Dylan (glares at his mom).

Mom: I cannot believe you are being so disrespectful when I have taken you to two stores today! And I still have to go home and make dinner.

Dylan: We’re not eating dinner until I get my green shirt!

Mom: Oh you think you’re better than everyone else? I don’t like this attitude, Dylan. No video time for you later.

Dylan (whines): That’s not fair!

Mom: Neither is the way you’re talking to me.

 

How It Could Go

When A Child Is Disrespectful When They’re in Yuck

 

Scenario: 

Dylan is supposed to wear certain outfits each day for Spirit Week at school. His mom takes him to two stores but neither one has the type of green shirt he needs for the next day. When his mom tells him he can use his brother’s shirt that has some green in it, he says, “That’s the stupidest idea ever! No way! I’m not doing that!” 

 

Mom: Dylan! I’m just making a suggestion.

Dylan: Well it’s a dumb one.

 

CALM

Dylan’s mom is (rightly so) frustrated and hurt by Dylan’s response.  She also recognizes that this response is a symptom of Dylan’s “Yuck” and that she needs to model emotional regulation (dealing with Yuck) if she wants Dylan to learn how to deal with Yuck more respectfully. 

 

Mom: Dylan. Talking like that is not like you. Are you upset that we can’t find a green shirt?

Dylan (still a little nasty): YES.

Mom (calmly): Why?

Dylan: Because everyone is gonna laugh at me. Yesterday Carter was wearing the wrong thing and people teased him all day!

Mom: And you’re afraid that will happen to you?

Dylan (less rudely): Yes.

Mom: I get that. No one wants to be laughed at. (Pauses.)

 

CONNECT

Instead of telling Dylan all of the reasons he is being silly — or minimizing what he is going through — Dylan is demonstrating respect for his perspective. She knows that in order to help Dylan deal with his Yuck (so he can act respectfully and solve problems), she has to show him that she is on his side.

 

Mom: Instead of being rude to me, can we try to solve this problem together? There’s no green shirt here. What can we do?

Dylan: I don’t know.

Mom: Can I make a suggestion?

Dylan: Yeah.

Mom: I can’t go to any more stores because I have to get home to make dinner. What if I put a message on our neighborhood Facebook group asking if anyone has a green shirt? Would that be a “stupid idea” too?

Dylan (laughs a little). No. Sorry about saying that.

Mom: We’ll find a solution, bud. You just can’t talk to me like that when you’re upset.

Dylan. OK.

 

CORRECT

Dylan’s mom understands that his attitude is stemming from his Yuck and that he needs help regulating his emotions. In order to teach him how to do that, she respects him… and then talks to him about solving problems without speaking rudely. (Ideally, her next step would be to teach him Yuck Release Strategies to use instead of disrespecting her.) 

 

 

How to Make the In-the-Moment Strategy Work

The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to effectively deal with your child who is disrespectful when they’re in yuck, remember:

 

Depositing into CALM

Dylan’s  mom will NOT be able to stay calm if

a.) her own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low or

b.) she has the expectation that Dylan should be able to handle his Yuck in a mature manner (when even adults struggle to do that)

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.

 

Depositing into CONNECT

Carly’s mom will only be able to connect if:

a.) she recognizes that all behavior has a reason

b.) she understands that in this case, Dylan’s fear of being made fun of (his Yuck) is coming out as negative behavior

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to gain an understanding of children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.

 

Depositing into CORRECT

Dylan’s mom will have more of an impact on correcting Dylan’s behavior if:

a.) She  has demonstrated consistently in the past that she will not let Dylan take his Yuck out on her (otherwise Dylan has no reason to try to stop).

b.) She  has made enough deposits into Dylan’s emotional needs that setting a boundary does not push him deeper into Yuck.

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Dylan’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to correct Dylan’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.