How to Handle Kids who Argue Disrespectfully

When children argue disrespectfully, it can cause even the most patient of parent to loose their cool.  In dealing with this type of issue, a parent needs to look at what they are considering disrespectful before they get upset.  If the child is not on the same page as to what you consider disrespectful they will not know they are doing anything wrong and continue down the same road, causing even more problems.  Parents also need to make sure they know the whole story to whats going on as sometimes thing are not how they appear.  Its defiantly better to ask question first, before getting upset.

Parents need to investigate the reason children feel they have to argue this way. Most children that argue disrespectfully feel they have a major reason for acting this way or may have not clue that the parent is considering what they are doing disrespectfull.  While the reasons may not always be the most logical to the parents or adults that have to deal with it, it is logical to the children.  This reason can be anything from not being able to deal with the frustration they are feeling or maybe they feel this is the only way left to express themselves that you will listen to.  

Defining what is disrespectful is another thing to look at.  If a child is using “I” statements and are getting frustrated because they feel like they are not getting any where it may not be a disrespectful problem it is a communication problem that needs to be addressed.  Always keep in mind that what you think may be classified disrespectful arguing could in reality, be a child crying out for love and understanding. Finding the underlying cause is going to go a long way to understanding your child and teaching them strong communication skills. If you do not define the core problem then these arguments are only going to get worse and leave both you and your child at odds.  How you handle your child in these instances is going to set up all your future communication or lack thereof.

 First, we need to look at what is being calling disrespectful.  If a child is tearfully upset asking questions that you cannot answer is not disrespectful, this is a hurt child that needs understanding and reassurance.  This child is crying out for help and may just need some soft words and a loving touch.  Never tell a child that they need to quit whining or being disagreeable when they are trying to tell you how they are feeling.  Just because you may not like what’s being said or the fact they are hurting does not mean you can tell them they can’t talk to you until they are in a happy mood.  This type of abandonment fosters an idea that they cannot share how they are feeling or the fact they are hurt because they are going to be rejected by showing their feelings.  It can even lead to children telling themselves that you do not care how they are feeling because you do not want to be bothered with it. This type of arguing is in no way disrespectful as long as there is not back talking or name-calling.  A child is allowed to be upset and express their feelings; they also have the right to share those feeling with the person that is causing them to see if they can work them out.

 Now if a child is name calling or actually talking back this argument needs to be handled in a different manner.   If a child is lashing out because they are hurt and angry, that needs to be treated differently than a child just being defiant.  When a child is lashing out because they are hurt and angry, while it does not excuse the behavior it does make dealing with it a bit different.  Stop the conversation with compassion saying “I know your upset but I need you to calm down and talk to me correctly” or “I will not listen to that kind of talk please repeat it nicer”. Most times, if the child feels like you care about what they are saying they will calm down because children have a huge desire to please adults, especially their parents.  If you can deal with the root problem of the hurt and anger you will be able build a stronger relationship with your child that will last into the future.

 If the child is being blatantly defiant you really need to ask leading questions about why they are acting like they are.  You need to keep the communication going to find and deal with the core issues.  Hanging up or ending the conversation leaves the child feeling they were right and you do not care about them and what they think and feel.   While sometimes, ending the conversation is the only way to deal with the children that are arguing disrespectfully these times are few and far between.  Other times it’s a matter of listening to them and explaining that there are better ways to deal with the issue they have besides being ugly.  Always be consistent in your communication with your children and they will learn quickly what is allowed and what is not. 

 So the best way to handle kids who argue disrespectfully is first identify the reason the child is upset.  Build a relationship that includes communication, compassion for their feelings/reasons and understanding.   With these three things, you will be able to have strong communication with your children and once they know they can approach you with all their problems.