Dealing with a Disrespectful Child - A New Perspective

connecting with your teenager empowering your teenager Jan 22, 2024

The topic of respect is a common concern among parents that I work with at the Family Enrichment Academy. I often hear statements like:


- "My son doesn't respect me."

- "My daughter won't respect anything I say."

- "Our children are so disrespectful."


If you can relate to these statements, I have an insight that can help you move past the frustration caused by your "disrespectful" children.


When a parent tells me that their children don't respect them, I always start by clarifying what they mean. I ask a question like:


- "What do you mean when you say 'My children don't respect me'?"


Take a moment to think about how you would answer this question.


Many times, parents will explain that their child doesn't listen or follow their instructions. They may mention that their child breaks the rules or even yells and uses inappropriate language towards them.


As we delve deeper into the situation, it becomes clear that the parent sees their child's misbehavior as a sign of disrespect. They might say something like, "If he respected me, he wouldn't argue with me about everything." They often ask questions like:


- "How can I get them to do what I say?"

- "How can I get them to stop yelling and fighting all the time?"


This is where I would offer a different perspective. Instead of trying to control your child's behavior, I suggest shifting your focus to understanding what they are trying to communicate through their bad behavior.   I would assert that the disrespectful behavior is actually a cry for help.  They are overwhelmed with fear.


They are afraid of not feeling good enough.

They are afraid of not fitting in or belonging.


Truth be told, we all experience these two fundamental fears to some extent. For your child, this negative energy needs an outlet, so they unleash it on you. But consider this: they unleash it on you because you are the one person who is supposed to love them no matter what.


From this perspective, the questions shift from:


- "How do I get them to do what I say?" to "How do I let them know that I see them for who they are and love them unconditionally?"

- "How do I get them to stop yelling and fighting all the time?" to "How do I empower them to be their absolute best?"


With a love-based mindset, all bad behavior is seen as a call for love. When you're ready, try saying something like this to your disrespectful child:


"It seems like we've been fighting a lot lately. First of all, I want to apologize for yelling at you yesterday. I know it doesn't help anything. I was thinking about it last night and I realized that being a teenager today is really different than it was when I was your age. It seems more stressful. I'm going to try my best to understand what you're dealing with. I may not always get it right, but please know that I love you and want what's best for you. When you're ready, I would love to hear how things are different for you today compared to when I was in high school."


Can you see how with this statement, I am letting them know that I see them for who they are and love them unconditionally?


I assure you that as you continue to deepen your connection and shift from control to empowerment, all of your concerns about disrespect will magically fade away.


Your Family Enrichment Coach,

Jim White





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