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.


3. Don’t interact with junior when he’s sulking or talking back You should never tolerate rude responses from your child. Give him a specific warning beforehand and only respond to him when he communicates politely to you.

4. Don’t discipline out of embarrassment or anger Chua notes, “Bear in mind that discipline needs to always be done [with] love and out of love. Parents should also be mindful of not embarrassing your children just because you feel embarrassed.”

5. Take them to a quiet place, instead Your kiddo can then listen to you without distractions or feel pressure that others are watching him, Chua notes. It also lets you calm down, so that you can speak firmly to him. Any punishment should also be carried out away from the others’ watchful eyes. Shaming your child is not the right way to correct his misbehaviour.

Shaming your child is not the right way to correct his misbehaviour.

6. Whenever possible. give them the freedom to choose, Sometimes, your child may act rudely as he resents being told to do things he doesn’t want to do. So, minimise frustration by offering him a choice. Try, “Would you like to pack your school bag before or after dinner?”

7. Mind your reactions When calling your child out on his misconduct or handing out punishment, talk to him like you mean it. Be mindful of your reactions: Use a firm and authoritative tone of voice. You will confuse your child into thinking you may be joking if you smile or speak in an animated voice.

8. Avoid exposing junior to negative behaviour on media Keeping a watchful eye on the kinds of information your child has access to is just as important as you modelling good behaviour. Exposure to swear words on TV or in the kind of music he listens to can influence the way he expresses himself.

9. Show approval when he does the right thing Every time junior behaves in a suitable manner, praise him. Say, “I noticed that you asked permission before taking the tablet from your little sister — that’s very nice of you!”

Photos: iStock

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