How to Deal with Disrespectful Children

There is a range of books out there by authors with Ph.Ds in child behavioral psychology that dish out advice on how to deal with disrespectful children. Some of these books claim that children are disrespectful for a variety of reasons. It could be because they are faced with a circumstance that they are not comfortable with or are facing certain issues in their lives. Others say that disrespect is an attention-seeking tactic or a ploy to test their boundaries. Whatever your take is on the matter, excusing the conduct of a disrespectful child would only lead to more acts of disrespect with the result being a child growing into a rude adult. This article will discuss how to deal with disrespectful children.

Dealing with disrespectful children

  1. Ignore

Ignoring disrespectful children when they try to seek your attention is a form of negative reinforcement that lets them know that you are in control. To do this effectively, you must keep as calm as possible to avoid overacting to disrespectful conduct. For example, if you direct your child to carry out a chore and he grumbles, instead of focusing on the grumble, ignore it and warn him of the consequence of not performing the chore.

If grumbling is a repetitive thing, after the chore is performed, you could bring it up as a topic of discussion. Ask him questions that lead him to realize that grumbling is disrespectful conduct.

  1. Provide reasons

Children are generally inquisitive. They always want to know and that is why it is important that when you lay down rules for them to obey, their curious minds want to know the rationale behind the rules. If you fail to provide a reason, their innate desire to know may override their need to obey you, thus, leading to an act of disrespect. So while as an adult/parent you have the right to make rules, you are bound to get the best result if you explain to your children in clear terms why the rule exists. For instance, you have told your kids to always use the pedestrian bridge on their way back from school but you have given them no reason why. If after school a bunch of their friend does not use the pedestrian bridge, your kids would likely be influenced to follow after the crowd. This situation could easily have been avoided by clearly explaining to your kids the dangers inherent in using the freeway.

  1. Follow through on Consequences

Always follow through on the consequences you have promised whether they are negative or positive. The fact is that if you fail to follow through on consequences, you teach your child not to listen to you as your words hold no water.


Dealing with disrespectful children is no walk in the park. It can be draining and exasperating. The trick is to be consistent. Use positive reinforcements when you notice progress and show by your example that you’re respectful. After all, children learn best by imitation.