My Child Doesn't Respect Me: What to Do?

If you're having trouble getting your child to treat you with respect, don't despair. Establishing clear limits and practicing understanding will go a long way in improving the situation.
My Child Doesn't Respect Me: What to Do?

Last update: 21 August, 2019

All parents hope to have a good and harmonious relationship with their children. Nonetheless, sometimes in the day-to-day tensions that can arise, you can become overwhelmed and frustrated thinking “my child doesn’t respect me.”

Sometimes we feel that things escalate out of control. If this feels like something you’ve experienced, here we’ll give you some advice on how to reverse the situation.

Teaching respect through discipline and love

Contrary to what we might think, children’s respect for their parents isn’t something innate. It’s a value that needs to be taught and molded from when they’re very young.

A child’s personality may be a contributing factor (some children may be temperamental by nature). However, the key to creating a strong bond of respect are discipline and love.

Although they seem like opposite concepts, being firm but also loving can and should be complementary elements of a child’s upbringing. Children need clear limits and coherent norms to guide them in how to act. A child without these guidelines will grow up in surroundings that are chaotic and it will be difficult to regulate his or her behavior.

Nonetheless, it’s also indispensable for our relationship with our children to be based on love and understanding. It will be difficult for your children to learn to respect you if they don’t get the same consideration from you. Children are less likely to challenge you if they see you as a source of love and security.

My Child Doesn't Respect Me: What to Do?

Does my child really have no respect for me?

More than anything, it’s necessary to figure out if there really is a lack of respect. Sometimes we forget that children are human as well, and when it comes to their emotions they have good and bad days.

Like everyone else, children have moments when they feel tired, irritated, and they can become overwhelmed by their bad mood. They’re just learning how to manage their frustrations.

If it’s just on a certain occasion that your child acts out or gets in a bad mood, try to put yourself in his or her shoes. Talk to your child and try to understand what’s going on. Try to be your child’s sounding board so you can help him express his feelings in another way.

In contrast, if this type of behavior is recurrent and of significant intensity, it’s necessary to intervene. Examples of the kinds of behavior that might require more attention are listed below:

  • Your child defies you constantly. He deliberately disobeys you to test your authority, creating a power struggle in your relationship.
  • Your child demands that you satisfy his wants immediately. He ignores your reasons for not doing it.
  • Your child has temper tantrums and throws things and breaks objects in an effort to get his way.
  • Your child yells or uses hurtful words against you if you try to impose limits or assert your authority.

What should I do if my child doesn’t respect me?

Be an example

The key is to encourage respectful conduct in your children and to be a positive role model. However, this isn’t easy to do. It requires a lot of willpower and patience in addressing the conflicts that arise between you.

It’s indispensable that you stay calm and collected with your children. And you should never threaten them verbally or harm them physically.

In addition, we need to exercise integrity and to react in a measured way when our children make a mistake. We want to show them that it’s okay to be human and to make mistakes from time to time. They’ll see that regret and forgiveness are valuable virtues and important aspects of human relationships in their own right.

Establish clear limits

It’s really important to establish behavioral norms as parents. Children need to have a clear understanding of what kind of behavior is completely unacceptable and what kind of behavior is unwelcome yet not as serious. In the same way, they need to know that crossing such a line will have consequences.

My Child Doesn't Respect Me: What to Do?

When putting these norms into action, it’s important that you do so in a coherent way. That’s to say, we should assure that we always follow through on respecting the limits and applying the consequences for trespassing them. If we make exceptions, then we lose credibility and we show them that we lack consistency.

Likewise, it’s important that we quickly follow through on the punishment for crossing boundaries so they learn there are real consequences. In that way, the association is established more quickly for them.

My child doesn’t respect me: Listen and talk

The consequences don’t need to be a form of vengeance or punishment. You need to find a loving way to transmit that such acts have an impact.

Always try to be present and available for your children. Ask them about their feelings and express your own emotions as well. Try to negotiate compromises and to discuss when you disagree on something.

The best path to building a healthy relationship with your children is giving them unconditional love and respect. Although this is far from the quickest or easiest way, it’s the one that will build a healthy emotional bond between you.

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.