"If; when your child does something "bad," you feel bad about it, your child won't. "

Nip Disrespectful Behavior in the Bud


I home school my 7-year-old son. We are working on obeying and being respectful. Often when I tell him something he responds disrespectfully. He will yell back at me or say something mean and then doesn't do what he was told. He will get an "X" in one of his boxes, but usually ends up losing all boxes because of the meltdown he has when I "X" one box. My husband and I feel that if he spoke like this in school he would receive a consequence immediately. Also, sometimes he says he doesn't know what he did that was disrespectful. So we are thinking that maybe he needs an immediate reaction/consequence when he yells or says something disrespectful. Would something like making him stand in the corner for 5 minutes be appropriate? Or what other consequence would be good? Usually, when he is overly disrespectful I send him to his room for 10 minutes to cool off. That often works well. But I need something immediate that sends him a message, "Oh, THAT ACTION is what is disrespectful. And one more thing, can I implement this "cold turkey?" Can I say, "This is going to be what happens EVERY time you are disrespectful" and then do it? I do make him go to bed after dinner on those bad days. But that doesn't stop the behavior.


I know from experience with my own five children that it can be frustrating and downright exhausting when a child speaks disrespectfully, especially if it has become a habit. Kids pick up stuff from everywhere and can be quite creative with their words. Somehow, they know just what to say to get underneath their parents' skin. I think half the battle is remembering that whatever your son says is not about you. Try not to take it personally, react emotionally, or worry too much about why he is saying the things that he is saying. The why is not as crucial as getting the behavior under control.

Beyond that, it sounds like you are on the right track by using strategies from The Well-Behaved Child. If you are using daily or weekly charts, you can implement an optional time-out for 10 minutes or so on the "free" boxes. It sounds like you are doing that by sending him to his room to cool off. If you feel like disrespect should result in losing more than one box, you can make it worth two boxes. With a five or six-block daily chart, that essentially gives him one warning per day (with a time-out), which I think is reasonable. After the "free" boxes are gone, he will start to lose other privileges, based on what you have decided to include on your chart (no TV, no outside play, etc.) If you choose to up the ante and cross off two boxes for every offense, make sure your son understands the new plan. If he is having a hard time understanding what disrespect looks like and sounds like, which is not uncommon for kids because it is a rather abstract concept, you could show him the difference between respect and disrespect with some role-play exercises. Just make sure to do that when he is calm and teachable.

Also, when he loses a box (or two) for disrespect, do not cross off more boxes if he gets upset about losing a box. Just send him to his room until he cools off. If he goes on his own, let him come out as soon as he calms down. If he refuses to go and throws a massive fit, tell him he gets to stay in there for the remainder of the day.

Hopefully, you will see improvement very soon.

Lynnette Sheppard
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

Subscribe To Get More From ParentGuru

Subscribers enjoy access to all questions and answers.


Return to Previous Page

View All Questions