It can be tough for parents to calmly approach their children when they are being disrespectful and taking their bad attitude out on you. I completely understand the feeling of looking at your child being disrespectful and thinking, ‘I literally provide you with everything, and this is how you are going to treat me?’
But, if you want to help your son reach his potential and become a successful and happy adult, you’ll need to put those feelings aside and work patiently with him to correct his disrespectful attitude.
Talk To Your Son About His Disrespectful Attitude
One of the first things you will need to do is talk to your son about his attitude. While most kids know when they are being disrespectful, they may not realize the impact it is having on their loved ones. Even teens who feel like they have outgrown their parents still hold their parents upon a kind of pedestal, not believing that their words and attitudes can really affect their parents.
Also, some teenage boys consider being disrespectful to others is funny. Often, these boys will be disrespectful to their friends, egg each other on to be more and more outrageous, all while believing that everyone is enjoying the joke.
So, when you talk to your son about his behavior and attitude, keep these things in mind, especially if all you get back is puzzling responses like:
“I don’t really see what the problem is.”
“I didn’t mean it, so it doesn’t count.”
“Everyone else does it.”
While these kinds of responses are frustrating, it can help you gauge where your son is coming from and help you determine how serious a problem it is likely to be to help him overcome his disrespectful ways.
Set Clear Expectations About Your Son’s Behavior
Children are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is allowed, and if your son is taking a disrespectful attitude with you, this can be just one more way of expressing that boundary pushing.
So, after you two talk about his attitude, it is time to set clear expectations about your son’ attitude and behavior. Things like no name-calling, being required to answer verbally when asked a question and not just shrugging are good places to start with setting your expectations.
When your son disregards these behavioral expectations, focus on practicing positive discipline. It is best if you outline the consequences of being disrespectful before the outburst, but it is not possible to anticipate all circumstances. If your son behaves disrespectfully, make it clear to him that what he did was disrespectful and that you will be talking to him later about the consequences.
Not only will this response give you time to cool down and consider fair disciplinary measures, but it also gives your son to consider his actions and attitude and see that he was in the wrong.
Model The Respectful Behavior You Expect To See
As the father, your son will model much of his behavior on your example. Even if your son tries to pretend that he is nothing like you, scholars have seen that fathers play a critical place in shaping their children.
For instance, my father is a pretty sarcastic man. When I was younger, I thought he was the height of wittiness and modeled a lot of my own attitude on what I thought was his cool disregard of “boring, dumb people.” Thank goodness my high school track coach sat me down and made it clear that far from being cool, I was just a jerk that most people didn’t want to work out with on the team.
So, it may take a bit a soul-searching, but you may find that some of your son’s disrespectful attitude was learned from you and it is essential that you model the behavior you expect to see.
Bring In Professional Help
Reaching out to professional resources can help enormously. Many of us parents are trying to figure out parenting as we go, and having a trained therapist assist can be invaluable. Depending on your son and your family’s needs, a combination of family therapy and individual therapy for your son can help him overcome his disrespectful attitude and help the whole family become more harmonious.
If your son isn’t able to overcome his disrespectful attitude at home, and it is leading him down more dangerous paths, it may be time to consider a boarding school for troubled teens. At a good school, he can receive more concentrated help and enjoy a supportive environment that will help him make the changes he needs.
Hold Onto A Sense Of Humor
As you help your son outgrow his disrespectful attitude, keeping a firm hold on your sense of humor can help you keep things calm. So, the next time your son snaps back a sassy answer, you can find the humor and stay calm enough to say, “Wow, kind of rude there. Did you mean that to be a rude answer?”
By not allowing your son to unravel your calm and sense of humor, you are providing him with a chance to reflect on his attitude and understand that his behavior is out-of-line.
Working with your son to help him overcome his disrespectful attitude won’t be easy on either of you, especially as you manage your various roles besides being “just dad”. But by doing this work while your child can still change easily, you can help set your son up to be a better-adjusted adult who is more capable in his interactions with others.