Perhaps one of the most common things that parents talk to me about is disrespectful behaviour. Whether it's backchatting, eye rolling, pulling 'that' face, muttering or even swearing - it can be extremely frustrating and tricky to deal with.
What's this all about?
There are various reasons for disrespectful behaviour. Sometimes, it's about an attempt to assert independence. At various stages in your child's development, they will test the boundaries which you have set out. Essentially, it's about wanting to grow up. On other occasions, it may be simply that they are looking for a reaction or seeking your attention, perhaps because they feel that they are being treated unfairly or ignored.
Finally, it may just be that they are copying the behaviour of others around them.
How should you handle it?
You need to handle this sort of behaviour as even-handedly as possible. For example, in some instances it can be really hard not to laugh. But if your child sees you laughing, you are positively reinforcing their behaviour.
However, on some occasions, rather than laughing, you'll be struggling to keep your cool. Obviously, it's really important not to lose your temper. Instead, try to remain calm and give a detailed explanation as to why their behaviour is unacceptable.
Bear in mind that children learn by imitation. Therefore if you want them to behave respectfully, then you should set a good example. Behave respectfully towards them and others and make the boundaries clear. Dr Victoria Samuel from the Parental Support Service suggests that you should tell your child what you want, not what you don't want. Rather than "Cut the backchat!" say "I heard you being rude to me under your breath. I don't like that kind of behaviour. If you're feeling frustrated please tell me directly."
Play & pretend
At Perform we use a game called Telephone conversation in order to encourage the children to express their feelings, but in a respectful way. Why not try it at home?