9 ways to deal with junior’s bad manners

Annoyed with your mini-me’s impertinence? Wise up to strategies to stop his rude behaviour.


It’s almost a rite of passage for any parent to have to deal with a child who talks back or peppers his conversation with sarcastic remarks. Irritation aside, it gets especially embarrassing when junior’s bad manners draw disapproving stares from bystanders. So, it’s best to nip your youngster’s rudeness in the bud soonest. 

If your normally mild-mannered kid is suddenly behaving in a disrespectful way, observe if his misbehaviour is a one-off occurrence or a recurring thing. Focus on the Family parenting specialist Sarah Chua says that if it’s just the one time, check if negative emotions ― such as school-related stress or relationship issues with his peers ― are triggering his outbursts at home.

“As parents, our actions speak louder than words… When our children see us treating others with respect, they too will learn to do so.”

Your children learn appropriate ways to respond by watching and imitating those around them. Chua stresses that you should reflect on how you model respect when you are around your kids. “As parents, our actions speak louder than words. As we practise positive character traits, our children will begin to emulate them. When our children see us treating others with respect, they too will learn to do so.”

Leading by example by showing respect to others will set the stage for your kids to follow suit. Chua suggests that you observe if you have apologised for a mistake you’ve made or said thank you to the waitress who has brought you water.

Besides paying more attention to how you behave, Chua advises that you call a family meeting to discuss values. Be sure to point out that everyone in your family should say please, thank you and I’m sorry, with no exceptions. By the end of the meeting, you should have set some ground rules and consequences for not sticking to them. Remember to include your kids in the discussion as he’ll feel less compelled to be mouthy if his concerns are heard.

Even if you put rules in place, you shouldn’t expect an overnight a change in your offspring’s attitude or behaviour. Chua stresses that it’s important that you remain patient and loving when handling your tween’s bad manners. Here’s are ways to resolve your child’s rudeness, especially in public:

1. Be consistent If you want your kids to break old habits and build new ones, stick to your guns and mete out agreed upon punishment. The same set of rules should apply no matter where the act of disrespect has taken place.

2. Be specific Use specific words to describe unacceptable behaviour. Say things like, “We do not talk to each other rudely” or “I will not tolerate your sulking/you talking back to me”. So that your kiddo will know what is expected of him, be clear when you explain what the appropriate behaviour should be.