How to deal with an angry disrespectful child (Useful Tips)

In this guide, we will discuss “How to deal with an angry disrespectful child”. We will discuss some quick tips and how to identify in which part of the ‘disrespectful spectrum’ is your child. Additionally, we will mention three key steps on how to deal with an angry and disrespectful child and we will go deeper into the tips we have mentioned at the beginning.

How to deal with an angry disrespectful child

You may think ‘How to deal with an angry disrespectful child?’ if you are not sure what else you can do for your child to stop being disrespectful to you or others and to stop them from having anger outbursts. Here are 5 general rules that apply if you are dealing with a disrespectful child:

  • Don’t take things personally. It is difficult because it is your child and it hurts you when he/she is being disrespectful but try not to take what they say personally because most of the time they don’t do it to hurt you.
  • Prepare yourself. This can be a common behaviour, especially during adolescence so be prepared for it. Set up some boundaries and limits and set clear expectations about what happens if they cross them. 
  • Avoid power struggles. If you become involved in a power struggle know that you have lost control. Don’t argue with them and plan ahead (i.e. consequences).
How to deal with an angry disrespectful child (Useful Tips)
  • Be consistent. Sometimes, we give out mixed signals to our children, especially if we have set some rules and boundaries and we don’t even respect them or permit them not to follow them.
  • Be a role model. We can’t expect our kid to be respectful if we are not and we can’t certainly expect them to stop screaming and shouting if that is the first thing we do when we get angry. Make sure you are a role model for positive behavior.

We will take a look more in depth on each of the rules we have presented previously so we can actually see some examples on how this applies in real life environments.

Disrespect spectrum

If your child tends to roll their eyes or ignore you when you give them an instruction but still follow through then it can be a bit frustrating you have to repeat yourself for them to do what they were told. However, there are kids that have more serious behaviors where you could be getting yelled at, physical aggression, being defiant  or incurring in name-calling. ‘What can I do?’ you ask yourself in frustration and desperation because of this situation.

Doesn’t really matter if your child is very disrespectful or just a bit disrespectful since we need to address the disrespect before it gets worse later on. We know from studies that disrespectful children are very likely to become disrespectful adults, and even engage in antisocial and criminal activities. So simply saying ‘oh, kids are just kids’ is not going to help your kid at all since they need to learn to respect figures of authority and their peers. This will allow them to have healthy relationships when relating to other people.

Three key steps on how to deal with an angry and disrespectful child

Here are three important steps according to Dr Paul Jenkins from ‘Live On Purpose TV’ on how to deal with your child if he/she is being rude and disrespectful.

Step 1:

The first step is maintaining respect for yourself. We know when someone is being disrespectful, no matter young or old, it can become very frustrating and challenging. It is important to find ways to maintain respect for ourselves. Try to take some slow and deep breaths, watch out for your tone of voice and try to relax your face muscles.

Even though our children are being disrespectful, we need to set the example and be respectful no matter what. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries, limits and apply consequences.

How to deal with an angry disrespectful child (Useful Tips)

Step 2:

The second step is teaching them how to be responsible. This will be related to having control over their life and maturity but you could think right away ‘how much control can they have over their own life if they are so young?’. However, let’s try not to think in terms of age and instead we will talk about stages. Subsequently, we could talk about stage 1, which is the least mature which will depict not enough self-control since most of the control is exerted by others in their life.

During the second stage they get to be more mature and get a bit more control over their lives. Finally, the third stage is where they can get the control/maturity peak and true responsibility kicks in. All they want is freedom but to give them more freedom they need to be in control of their own lives and you can teach them how to do that. 

Step 3:

The final step is, separating our emotions from the discipline. Be clear about the consequences for ‘x’ behaviour. This will be very powerful as long as you keep modeling appropriate behaviour such as remaining calm and having a respectful approach, so try not to give in to your emotions no matter how tempting it can be. Remember, we are teaching them self-control and how to deal with their emotions. 

Tips on how to deal with am angry and disrespectful child 

It is not personal

As we have mentioned, don’t take what your child says or does, personally. We know it is easier said than done but try to detach yourself from the situation. Moreover, some children won’t lose the opportunity to push your buttons and see how you lose control. However, let them know they are crossing the limits and boundaries by saying ‘I don’t like when you talk to me like this’ and then you can turn around and walk away. This will let them know what they did was wrong and for some it is even more painful than engaging into arguments with them.

Finally, if they have misbehaved, make sure to let them know there is a clear consequence. For instance, if they have punched you or said something offensive then take away something they appreciate for a period of time (try not to make it too long) and ask them to take the time to think about what they did wrong. 

Prepare yourself

You remember those days when your child was just a baby, when they depended on you, your choices about where they could go and what they could eat. When they start to grow, many things start to change and it is expected for them to test boundaries by being disrespectful or rude at times so prepare yourself for it. Avoid the power struggle because once you have engaged, you lose all control.

Evaluate if the limits and boundaries you have set are not working and restructure them. Additionally, be clear about the consequences and be consistent. 

Avoid power struggles

As we have indicated, once you go there, you have lost all control over the situation and your emotions. We understand it can be difficult when you are trying to prove a point in letting your child know you are the adult and they are the child so they need to obey but it doesn’t work like this all the time. Your child could end up just rolling their eyes and ignoring what you are saying is you would have wasted all your energy into it.

If your child has dragged you into a fight in the past, know that they will do it again in the future. Well, in this case plan ahead and set real expectations for the consequences of their behavior. Try to follow up with a discussion about what happened and let them give you the insights about their behaviour.

Be consistent

This is something very important and many parents seem to struggle with it. For instance, if you have told your child he/she can’t go out to the park if they don’t finish their homework but you end up agreeing to take them even if they haven’t finish their duties then what is the point of setting the consequences for not doing something they are supposed to if they are going to be rewarded anyway? And there are endless examples where we have tried to set consequences but failed terribly because we are not consistent.

Be a role model

Children are like sponges and they seem to imitate everything you say and do because you are their role model. If you lie and they have seen you doing it then they will learn to lie due to the consequences it has brought you. For instance, if you have called in sick but you are not, they can learn your intention is to avoid going to work or if someone calls in you ask your partner or spouse to pick up the phone and tell them to lie saying you are not home or you are nor available. They see and hear everything, that’s why it is important to set the example. 

Why is this blog about How to deal with an angry disrespectful child important?

As we have discussed on ‘How to deal with an angry and disrespectful child’ the main idea is not to engage into arguments or a power struggle because we will lose all the control we thought we had. Putting yourself at their level, screaming back at them and letting them push your buttons won’t teach them how to behave differently, on the contrary, it will become a never ending cycle. Remember not to take things personally.

By not giving in and displaying self control, we would model appropriate behavior and teach them how they should respond. However, showing self-control and being calm doesn’t mean there are no consequences to their behavior so it is our job to set clear expectations and be consistent.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

References 

Lehman, J. (n.d) Disrespectful Kids and Teens: 5 Rules to Help You Handle Their Behavior. Retrieved from empoweringparents.com.

Youtube.com: “How To Deal With A Rude Disrespectful Child”

Youtube.com: “Positive Parenting | Teaching Kids Responsibility”

Morin, A. (2020, Sept.) 5 Ways to Handle Disrespectful Behavior From Children. Retrieved from verywellfamily.com.

How to deal with an angry disrespectful child (Useful Tips)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.