Whether you have great or mediocre parenting skills, children are sometimes going to be less of a joy to be around.
After all, they too are human. And as parents, it can be difficult to help them develop properly, especially when they’re being little devils from time to time.
Mother and educator Dr. Chawanna B. Chambers – also known as “Dr. Chae,” shared a parenting story from her own life that offers a wonderful example of how to teach a disrespectful child to behave more appropriately.
For Chambers, her 6-year-old being rude to her was an opportunity to teach her a valuable lesson.
She wrote the following:
“I noticed that my 6-yo was being a lil rude/curt w/me, so I asked her what was up. At first, she just looked at me, so I reiterated that I can’t help her if I don’t know what’s wrong.
Then I asked, ‘Why are you being unkind to me? What happened?’
She looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know,’ and started crying. I told her, ‘It’s okay. Sometimes mommy just doesn’t feel happy too. You’re not in trouble. I just needed to know how to help.’”
Even asking something as simple as, “Why are you being unkind to me?” can encourage a kid to start thinking in a productive way that does not put them in a space of fear or defensiveness.
And having a mother that understands how it feels not to be sure why you’re sad and shows that she wants to help her child to come to understand this, is crucially important.
“She said, ‘My brain tells me to be rude,’” Chambers continued. “I told her that’s sort of how it happens for lots of people. When our emotions aren’t happy, sometimes we take it out on others even when they don’t deserve it.
She asked, ‘Wait. Your brain does it too?!’ I told her yes, and then I asked her if I could teach her something that might help. She said yes, so I told her, ‘When you aren’t quite feeling right but don’t want to be mean, you can say, “I’m not feeling my best self; I need a min.”‘”
“So, we practiced saying that over and over again until she felt better. She gave me a hug and stopped crying. I think about all the ways I *could’ve* responded, particularly a power trip bc ‘I’m the adult,’ but she needed to process something not even about me.”
Very often when our children are bringing out their frustrations, they have little to do with us as parents.
We are simply serving as a person they can vent on, and they might not even understand the reason. But that does not mean we should just let them walk all over us. It means that we can use that space to help them work through their frustrations and help them find a way to express themselves differently.
“Trying to be slower to projection or anger has really given me an opportunity to coach my children on emotional maturity,” the mother said. “Even at 6, she can learn how to challenge her own thoughts. She can learn how her brain works and the best ways to engage w/others.”
Chambers may have an advantage over most parents due to her background in education when it comes to understanding child psychology, but that does not automatically mean that we cannot all do whatever we can to focus on empathy and education in our own parenting.
Apart from helping children how to manage their emotions, this approach also strengthens the relationship between child and parent.
When your kid knows they can fully trust you to be of help and not hurt them, when they are reassured that their feelings are natural and they can learn to keep them in check, when they see that their parents are also going through the same things as them, they know you’ve got their back.
As parents, it is our duty to teach children to grow in a humane way, not to train them like obedient animals. And foremost, we must teach respect by being respectful ourselves. When a child misbehaves, it means that they are struggling somehow. And nothing is more respectful than being a good listener, empathizing, and helping others when they’re going through a rough time.
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