Disrespectful Children: How to Deal With Them?

Disrespectful children may have conflicts with parents, teachers and classmates. However, it's possible to implement certain guidelines at home to prevent these types of behavior.
Disrespectful Children: How to Deal With Them?
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The primary desire of every parent is that their children are happy. But, beyond this, it’s also likely that they want their little ones to show good manners, to have values and be able to relate properly with other people. It’s no secret that disrespectful children may suffer rejection and have conflicts with parents, teachers and peers.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts to educate children, they exhibit behaviors that are unacceptable. For example, swearing or making hurtful comments about others, interrupting conversations, shouting, disobeying or even assaulting others.

If you find yourself in this situation, try not to blame yourself. Parents do what they think is most appropriate and beneficial for their children. However, here are some guidelines that can help you identify where the problem lies and how to solve it.

Tips to dealing with disrespectful children

Boy yelling at his mother.

Set limits

Limits are a fundamental part of a child’s upbringing. They provide guidance and inform them about which behaviors are appropriate and which aren’t. Often, disrespectful children come from homes with a permissive parenting style, where limits are absent or inadequately enforced.

Sometimes parents believe that the child is still very young and that their disrespectful behavior is typical of their age, that it’s “kid stuff.” However, it’s important to remember that limits must be established from the beginning. Of course, always according to the age and capabilities of the child. This will lay the foundations for future behavior.

Moreover, there are many parents who don’t manage to stick firmly to the rules and guidelines that they themselves established. Perhaps because, when the child rebels, they don’t know how to react. Or perhaps because seeing their child get angry or cry causes them great discomfort. Therefore, it’s essential that these adults learn to tolerate the discomfort that sometimes comes with education.

Be a positive role model

Identifying one’s own mistakes isn’t easy, but if we see that our children are disrespectful, we have to evaluate to what extent they’ve been able to acquire these attitudes from us.

We can’t ask children not to yell while we yell at them, nor can we accuse them of not obeying if we’re the first ones not to listen to their point of view. To raise respectful children it’s essential to treat them with respect and consideration, and avoid acting like them when they behave inappropriately.

In addition, the way parents relate to each other and to other adults also teaches the child how to act. Try to set a positive example with your every word and action.

Teaching how to manage emotions

Sometimes we consider children to be disrespectful because they express disagreement, anger or displeasure. However, emotions are part of them and they have the right to manifest them. The solution, then, isn’t teaching them to repress their feelings and opinions. Instead, we can teach them to manifest them in an appropriate manner. Assertiveness with children is essential in these cases.

Finding the right moment

Finally, we must bear in mind that we can’t try to correct children’s behavior when they’re in intense emotional states. While they’re in the middle of a tantrum, angry, sad or upset, they won’t be able to listen to reason.

Therefore, it’s preferable to wait until they’re calm to analyze what has gone wrong on both sides and talk about solutions with the child. It’s clear that we adults are the ones who set the guidelines, but a child who feels listened to and respected is more likely to act with the same respect.

Girl yelling at her grandmother.

Disrespectful children also suffer

Sometimes we focus so much on the annoying and disruptive behaviors of children that we forget to look into their emotional world. Disrespectful children often behave this way because they don’t know any other way to express their emotions or because that’s what they get from the adults around them.

In addition, they may have frequent conflicts and social problems. Therefore, teaching them to progressively tolerate frustration and to be considerate of others isn’t only a matter of education, but an essential element for their personal and social well-being.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.