Why Your Kids Disrespect You (Part A)

I wish I had a dollar for every time a parent said to me “Why doesn’t my child respect me?”, so I thought I would dedicate the next couple of days to understanding some of the reasons why they don’t and how you can change them.

Here are three reasons why your child might disrespect you:

  1. They don’t know how to respect! I know that sounds really funny, but often our children don’t know what respect is or how to show it, particularly if you have not had anyone specifically show them.Often, we are so busy complaining about what they’re NOT doing, that we aren’t showing them what we do want them to do. We just keep saying things like, “You don’t respect me,”  “You’re speaking rudely to me,” “Don’t speak to me like that.” But nowhere in there are you telling them what you want them to do. We expect it to be obvious, but the reality is, it may not be.
  2. Do you deserve their respect? Whoa, I know that’s a confronting question, however, a valid one. Just because you do things for your children, does not mean they will automatically respect you. Respect has to be learnt and earned – often being earned because of the way you are treating them. Respect is a two-way street so sometimes that means taking a good look at your own behaviour.How is your treatment towards them? Are you treating them with respect? Are you recognising and validating their thoughts, opinions, suggestions and wants and needs as a result or are you just demanding they treat you nicely and obey your rules regardless of how you are treating them?

    The thing is, you can go down that road, but you won’t be getting respect. You’ll be getting compliance and a child who obeys you.

  3. You teach people how to treat you! There are several ways we can unconsciously allow our children to disrespect us and then wonder why we do. Here is a few of them.
  • You ignore them when they speak rudely to you, or there are no consequences. You merely say “We don’t speak to each other like that” and then go on your way, issuing no motivational reasons why they shouldn’t speak to them that way.
  • You think that you have to do everything for them and you have your self-worth on them needing you, so you worry that if you take that away from them they won’t love you as much, thus you don’t want to issue consequences. This also goes hand in hand with “I don’t want to see them unhappy”. The reality is that pain is how we learn. I don’t mean you should go around inflicting physical pain on your kids, but I mean the pain of not getting what we want can often teach us how to get what we want.
  • You don’t feel worthy of respect and therefore are used to people treating you poorly, thus your kids follow suit and you don’t think of doing something to change that. It has become the norm that people treat you like that. (They may even be following suit with how someone else in the family treats you and is copying them).

If you can’t relate to any of the above reasons why you are being disrespected, I urge you to think about how it got set up for your child to treat you this way. What was your contribution to it? What is your reaction to it? What might be going on for them to make them want to treat you this way? Is there another issue going on for them that might be resulting in you being the punching bag.

The bottom line is that if disrespect is a problem in your home, that is your reality right now. It’s time to figure out why, so we can then work out what to do about it.

More on this in the Part B – Eliminating Disrespect

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