To get to self-direction, there are a few universal caveats that apply to the described behavior. First, our children need to understand and agree with both the need for the rule and the consequence for breaking it. Only when they come to agree with our rules, through their own internal dialogue, will they become self-directed. Second, look to your own parenting strategy as the possible source of some of the problem. Are you over-controlling or over-protective? Either trait can elicit an externally directed response, as your children react to an unhealthy situation. Third, remember for all these parenting challenges how important it is for you as parents, to model the right behavior. If you're expecting your children to act one way and you act another, the double standard will throw a monkey wrench into their whole internal dialogue machinery.
And lastly, don't forget to laugh.
Arguing Disrespectfully with Parents
Why They Do It
Arguing inappropriately is often a way for children to test their limits or let off steam. Some feel over-controlled and argue to rebel. Most are still inexperienced in finding respectful ways to settle a conflict.
When your children argue disrespectfully with you, ask them to leave the room. You don't need to be subjected to any unnecessary rudeness.
Solutions Toward Self-Direction
Give choices or observations: "Brandon, it looks like you're angry at me for telling you to clean up your room. How do you think I should have handled it instead?" "It makes me feel angry and frustrated when you talk to me that way." "Tom, you can either tell me why you're so angry in a respectful way, or you can leave the room and try again when you've had a chance to cool off."
Use questioning: "What are our rules about arguing disrespectfully?" "Why do you think we have that rule?" "How can you get your point across without breaking that rule?" "What do you need to do to make amends?"
Use humor to defuse the tension: Place a sign on your forehead that reads "Kick me. If it's good enough for our little Johnny, it's good enough for you."
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