- Keep your composure: Don’t overreact to your kids’
mouthing off or get into a power struggle over their choice of words or their tone. And, of course,
never respond in kind. The best way to teach your children to speak respectfully is to do so
yourself. So tell them, “I think you can find a better way to say that.” A knee-jerk “Don’t you talk
to me that way, you little brat!” on the other hand, won’t set a very good example, and will add to
your child’s frustration.
- Turn a deaf ear: If your children suddenly turned nasty, don’t
negotiate, compromise, or even discuss their opinion with them, which will only reinforce the
behavior. Showing your children that you respect yourself too much to be treated this way will both
model respect and earn it.
- Offer choices: If your children have some say about what they want
during the course of the day, they are less likely to feel the need to assert themselves in
offensive ways. So give them plenty of opportunities to make choices for themselves. “Would you
rather go to the park or the library this afternoon?” or “Do you want pasta or chicken nuggets for
- Get behind the back talk: When your children verbally lash out at you, let them know
that you care about their feelings, even if you don’t approve of the way they are expressing them.
You can focus on the message that is being conveyed: “Are you angry because you have to stop your
game to pick up your socks?” If your child can talk about it calmly, try to come up with a
compromise you both can live with.
- Draw the line: Make sure your children understand what is —
and isn’t — okay to say. Also remind your kids that they don’t have to give voice to every thought
that runs through their head.