Lots of folks do “word of the year” selections at the outset of the new year. I’ve decided we’re doing a FAMILY word of the year and it’s RESPECT!
The triplets are now seven. They are good kids. They get good grades (at the ever challenging first grade, hahaha) and receive warm remarks from teachers and parents outside our home.
HOWEVER…it’s a different story at home.
An ever increasingly challenging story at home.
Bray and I have watched with frustration and despair at the sass and disagreement and general disrespect they are showing more towards us and also toward one another (and even relatives).
If I had said “no” in response to my mom, I would have gotten smacked. We’re not a “smack you” house, so I’ve tried an assortment of “we’re taking away this privilege” or “go to your room” or what-have-you in response to the attitude. It has not been effective. Plus, I readily admit, I am softer on punishment than their daddy is which makes me a particular target of the attitudes because they know they get away with more.
It’s going to stop! Or at least it’s going to slow.
The first line of attack is our family focus word for 2017: RESPECT.
I went over the plan on our way home from the farm on Monday. This year, we are going to focus on respect. Respect for your parents, respect for one another, and respect for all people in general. That means, you don’t get to respond with NO when we give you instruction. You don’t get to trash talk each other. You can ask questions but you can not roll your eyes, talk as though your fed up or bored, interrupt, or react defiantly.
We are setting up a 2017 word recognition board to identify when the behaviors are bad as well as when they are good. But I am still struggling with the appropriate reaction or disciplinary device(s). It’s obviously going to be a sliding scale based on the degree of behavior, but my biggest pet peeve is when one of us make a statement (“turn off the t.v., brush your teeth, go to bed now…”) and the response is NO.
Y’all, I’m not kidding. They look at me and say no. (My word for the year may have to be self-control.)
What do you parents do???
I’ve read lots of advice: ignore the attention seeking behavior (this is not always possible and doesn’t get them to do what they are supposed to), take away a privilege (which we do to minimal effect), state your limits and walk away (again, um, not exactly getting them to bed), avoid power struggles, coach your kids, yadayadayada.
But I want to hear from you personally. As your kids got older, and they began with disrespectful behavior or defiant attitudes, what was most effective? I fully recognize it’s different from child to child. My daughter takes discipline very seriously, and she’s growing some sass on her, while discipline seems to spur the baby into worse behavior.
I know particularly critical, on the parenting front, is to be respectful ourselves, even when dealing with the behavior. So I have to improve there. I also have to make sure I’m acting respectfully so they can model good behavior. But until they become angelic beings, I need some respectful kids tips.
So sound off my parenting friends – how do we make our 2017 Respect Rule work this year?
Monica Crane says
After years for trying to figure out consequences and realizing that taking things away really didn’t make much difference (and we ran out of things to take away and then what ???), we finally went to a a ticket reward system vs. taking away system – Bought a huge roll of tickets and when we see good behavior they get a ticket or tickets (you get to decide)! Then, for each kids, decide what they can use those for based on their own personalities – Extra screen time, friends over, time with mom or dad, , money … the possibilities are endless! We found out that they crave the tickets so their behaviour and help around the house and attitudes toward each other are getting better!
I thought it was interesting to see the follow up dialogue on FB too Monica – that you don’t remove tickets, but only reward them for good things. We really try to recognize positive behavior at home and not just call out the disrespect.
Hi, Gindi! You may be interested in the work by Alfie Kohn. He is well known for his work on — and against — reward systems in the classroom and at home. His focus is on intrinsic motivation over externally-driven compliance. I learned this approach in a student-reasearcher school setting well before I had children, and it is highly effective. As a mom, I do find that it requires more patience than I remembered : ) and I think it is fully worth it.
Thank you Allison – I’m not familiar with Kohn so I’m going to look into it. You always have such interesting insight.
I believe your answer is closer to you than you think. Respect starts with a respect for self and self control. You said it yourself so. I would look at your behavior first and how you treat situations and interact with people. No one is perfect but until you handle your own behavior and the dynamics with others, your children will continue to look to you as a guiding light. Look at that mirror hard and ask yourself how you’re contributing to their responses?
Yes I have faced this. Kids vary so clearly what works varies also but here’s my method. The broad outlines: I use natural consequences and most importantly, I treat my kid with a lot of respect. And he reflects that respect back to me. I don’t give orders. I talk to him. Like you talk to any thinking human being. (My theory is give orders to your dog if you like but not to your child. You wouldn’t order your spouse around, or your admin right? That’s disrespectful.). I do this because I want him to grow up to be a thinking adult. Sooner not later. And you know what- he generally agrees with what I say. He wants to please me. Because that makes me happy. Which makes him happy. Also he knows the reason for the rule. So, for the bedtime example, I don’t give the order brush your teeth and get in bed. I ask a question in a neutral tone ” hey kiddo, what time is it?” About 845 he replies. “That’s about bedtime then” I note. That’s about it. He stated a fact- the time- then I stated a fact. Pretty simple. He goes to bed. Do I sometimes get requests to stay up late and read one more chapter? Sure. Do I yell “I said get into bed!”? No. I talk. About why bedtime matters. Or why homework matters. Or whatever the issue is. And every now and then I let the kid stay up way too late as a lesson in natural consequences. Because staggering through a day exhausted is no fun for anyone. Or let him learn that turning in lousy incomplete homework and getting an embarrassing grade or staying after for make up work is not fun. Lesson learned.
I guess my point is that for some kids giving orders doesn’t help. Wow did the answer “because I said so” tick me off as a kid. It made me behave worse. It wasn’t a respectful, real answer. And you know what, I still feel that way. That is a stupid reason. I’d have behaved a ton better had I been given the real reason of natural consequences and a real explanation.
Interesting issue and I am l know there are tons of right answers this just happens to be the one that works for me.
One more thought on this. One of my favorite writers on happiness and happy family/home life is Gretchen Rubin. She writes extensively about how people respond to expectations (like get to bed or respect your mother) based on personality. I wanted to recommend her work because while it isn’t specific to parenting per se, it is great at getting you to see how others respond to expectations, which has certainly helped me parent. (Plus she writes about happiness in the home which I love.) So for example a kid that’s an Obliger (to use her term) responds well to external expectations. Sticker charts work great on that kid for example- it’s an external expectation so they meet it.
A kid that’s a Questioner (my son) responds well to inner expectations/things they understand and put on themselves, but poorly to external expectations, like an order to go the bed. Hence I talk to my kid about why sleep matters, and it becomes an internal expectation, and he gets himself to bed. Just wanted to pass along Rubin’s work as it has helped me, with myself, kids and coworkers for that matter! She also has a great podcast on happiness. Best of luck to everyone.
I love this and have found this to be so true – what works for one of my kids definitely does not work for another. And punishment for one makes him more belligerent while the other is immediately falling back into line!