My child is disrespectful. How should we react to this behavior?

When children have trouble communicating how they are feeling or what they need, they will often act out or display inappropriate behaviors. Therefore, the first step in minimizing these problematic behaviors is to identify the real reasons behind the behaviors. For example, is your child hitting you as a way to communicate anger or a need for attention? Rather than getting upset or punishing children for their inappropriate behaviors, help them find a positive way to communicate their needs and feelings. You can do this by simply stating that their behavior is inappropriate (e.g., “We don’t hit, hitting hurts”) and then teaching them to communicate with their words. At first, children may need you to give them the words to tell you what they need or how they feel. Once you address the underlying issue you will find that over time, you child will show less and less disrespectful behavior. 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

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