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Rudeness in Children
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School-aged Kids >
Rudeness in Children
I have an 8 year old daughter. I know that she loves me but she
is consistently mean to me. I feel like making a recording of
her and playing it to her so she can see how mean she is. (At
times I have written the things she says down and then read them
back to her.) She consistently says things like, ''I hate you,''
''You're mean'' etc. I am very nice to her and never ever say
things like this. Also, she does not hear this kind of talk in
our house. She has always felt free to be mean to me. When she
was younger, she would sometimes hit me. She is extremely well
behaved at school, at friends' houses and just about everywhere
else. She can also be mean to my husband, but it is not as bad
as she is with me. I know she feels that I am the safest person
around to be mean to. When I say something to her about it, she
always says she is sorry but she can't seem to stop herself from
saying the mean things. Any advise is much appreciated.
My kids are too small for me to respond to this as a parent, but
as a new parent I have been thinking about this a lot in terms of
my treatment of my own mother. My brothers and I were horrible to
her for years and years. We called her stupid, we told her she
didn't know anything....Granted we were pre-teens and teenagers,
but with 5 of us in the house it went on for a long time! My only
advice is to stop this now. Find a system that works for you, and
fix the behavior the way you would any other misbehavior--by
discipline, therapy, or whatever your chosen method. I am now an
adult and (as backwards as it may seem) angry at my parents for
not making us treat my mother better. She was a wonderful mother
(as I am sure you are), and you both deserve to be treated as such.
sad I was mean to Mom
Take away tv, toys, ice cream, etc. Her memory and ability to
refrain will improve. Talk over substitutes, other words to
express her anger that aren't as hurtful to you.
You don't want your daughter treating people in her relationships
this way and she will, because that is what she is learning to do.
I love the idea that you have thought about your kid being mean as not
acceptable. There is no ''safe'' place to be mean as mean is not a
our society encourages. At 8 she can TOTALLY get it! You and your
partner ned to
jump in the game and it needs to go something like this. ''mom, you
around and in a very strong voice say, ''that is a mean and hurtful
thing to say, you
are NOT ALLOWED to speak to ME or ANYONE that way. Please go to to the
boring room in the house (your bedroom is probably more boring than
five minutes and when you come out we will have this conversation again
will speak to me politely.'' If this continues to be a problem please
expect to lose
some things you enjoy as I REALLY don't ENJOY being spoken to like
no brats allowed!
I have the same thing with my 8 year old son. Partly, it's
because Dad is fun and leanient. Partly, I guess because of the
close relationship. After confronting it, promises not to ever
do it again (until the next day), etc, I lost it. I put him in
the doghouse (his term). I met my obligations as a parent --
meals, transportation to school, help with homework and music
practice. All very friendly and supportive. What I did NOT do
was any of the things which make his life more pleasant --
playdates (including permitting them at friends' houses), TV,
computer access, making him something special for dinner
(though I didn't serve anything odious).
I told him that everyone has to contribute to our family by
being supportive to one another and by building a happy home.
The regular blow-ups and rudeness needed to be dealt with once,
instead of everyday. As a human being and family member, I
deserve respect. If you think I'm mean and don't understand the
extra effort I make for you, I may as well stop. When he asked
how long he'd be in the doghouse, I said I didn't know, but I
wanted it to be long enough that we didn't return to
regular ''this is not acceptible'' and ''I promise I'll never do
it again'' scenarios.
I had to time it when there were no upcoming playdates(and made
an exception when a mom needed us to take her kid -- but my kid
understood it was a favor to the mom, not him) and nothing fun
upcoming for the weekend.
After a week of stellar behavior and general helpfulness, I
asked if he understood that it was imperative to have a happy,
respectful home. We've been good since. It helps that he knows
I'll put him back in the doghouse, if need be.
Look, I tolerated it for a long time because I understand that
kids work a lot of things out with their moms. I still
understand the occassional meltdowns and why home is the safe
place for them. But, it just didn't make sense to let a kid
treat me disrespectfully. I also think it's a reasonable
message that no human being wants to put out for you if you're
not appreciative or treat them badly. I remained pleasant while
he was in the doghouse, so it fit with the ''happy home'' -- I
would just remind him that he was not receiving any privileges
(many he had previously assumed were inalienable rights).
Sounds like there is a pattern developing. If I was in your
shoes, I guess I would try to do something different from what
I've done before to shake things up. If she speaks to you like
that tell her right away that what she has said is hurtful to you
and that you are not going to stay in the room with her. If you
are in the car, pull over and say a few things to her.
Seems like she needs an outlet for her aggressions or hurt or
angry feelings and it should'nt be you!
Maybe you two should go to some family therapy.
Outrageous! Let me ask you this, would you let anyone else in the
world treat you like that? The mother is the one person who
should be treated with utmost respect in a child's life. Here's
the thing, you can sit around and analyze and sympathize with
your daughter, and obviously there's something there she needs to
express (though I'm sure it's not your fault!), or you can nip
this behavior in the bud, take charge of this 8 year old, and
make it stop. It doesn't matter what she's feeling, she can tell
you about it later when she learns some respect. By allowing
this, you are setting up the guidelines for your relationship
with her for the rest of her life! She will be that 30 year old
who blames you , in front of others, for her ....fill in the
blank, whatever she's unhappy about. My advice is to find a
counselor who, instead of helping your child, they help you. Help
you to grow some nerve and whip ( not physically ) that girl into
shape. She obviously can do it. She does it at school, other
places. She does it to you because you let her. Children push
because they want to know their limits. She probably gets more
and more angry, because she's scared of her emotions, they're
more than she knows what to do with. It's your job to tell her
what to do with those emotions, and it starts with speaking
respectfully. I'm sure you don't need to be pounded on during
this difficult time, but I will say this. You're the parent. What
happens in your house is your responsibility. Help her.
I think it's too bad that you're condoning your daughter's
behavior. She treats you that way because you have permitted her
to. It's time to set boundaries. Frankly, if you don't stop
this now, it's going to get a lot worse when she is a teen-
ager! Believe me! The time is now to nip this in the bud and
frankly tell her, ''If you're not going to respect me and
continue to be mean to me, then I don't need to be around you.
When you decide to treat me with dignity and respect that I
deserve as YOUR MOTHER, then you can have the PRIVILEGE of
having a relationship with me. Period!'' Walk away every time
she is mean to you so that she knows you mean business and she
can think about it but stay firm! It may seem brash to you but
you are doing HER a big favor by setting boundaries. Good
luck! p.s. Rent the movie FIRELIGHT to get a better idea of
what I'm talking about as I, too, am a mother of a difficult
child so I'm not judging you here at all!
Are you tolerating her behavior? How strongly do you feel
about this? She may need firmer limits and tangible
consequences from you to curb her more disrespectful behavior,
if you really want it to stop. This can be simply choosing
something she doesn't want to lose and removing if for a couple
days, consistently, each time she crosses a line with you. It
would be important to be clear on what behaviors (words) need
to stop, and to follow through with a said consequence. I
suppose you could do a reward system too for improved behavior,
though I don't think rewarding her for treating you well is
good on principle nor as effective. Kids/people often need
tangible consequences to stop a behavior (E.g. If I really got
a ticket every time I sped, maybe I wouldn't, assuming I'm not
rich - choose your consequence wisely. A cop coming to my
window and simply scolding me wouldn't do the trick.)
I think it is very common for kids to vent and take out their
stress on their parents, and does not necessarily reflect any
great issue, but as long as you let her unleash on you she may
very well continue. I also worry about the message being sent
about letting yourself be disrespected.
If you allow your child to hit you, or be disrespectful to you,
you are setting her up for life-long problems. If she treats
others the way you let her treat you, she will always be
unhappy. Children need rules and boundaries. Rules are an
expression of love. In my experience, parents who allow their
children to run wild are usually just too lazy or too self-
involved to provide boundaries for their kids. What is your
excuse? And what is your husband's excuse?
I'm sorry about this, but seriously - your child is mean to you
because you are LETTING her.
Who sets the rules in the house? You.
Who decides the consequences of rule breaking? You.
Who ensures that consequences are followed through? You.
Lay out the rules clearly. Write them down on a poster board and
post them in the house. Be clear about the consequences for rude
or mean behavior. Take away her most precious possessions and
privileges if she breaks the rules. Take them away for a week at
least. If she continues her behavior, keep taking things away
until her room is empty except for furniture and she has no
If you do not do this, you will end up with an INTOLERABLE teen
who thinks she can get away with anything.
Boundaries are loving
You need to stop her. Tell her that's not acceptable language between
members, let alone a child to a parent. I have an 8 year old daughter
too, and she
gets mad at me when the situation sometimes isn't what she wants it to
be, but we
have never tolerated the kids hitting us or calling us names. When it
close to that, we've said, ''Hey, don't talk to me in that tone of
voice. I'm your
mother, and it's my job to make rules that keep you safe and teach you
how to be a
good person. It's ok if you don't like the rules and you feel angry,
but it is NOT ok
for you to say ______to me.'' If she continues the rude, disrespectful
punish her by taking away a privilege or giving her a time-out to cool
down, and tell
her she needs to apologize to you before she regains her privilege or
comes out of
You're the Mom--You're in charge!
While you should not have to tolerate being treated disrespectfully and
boundaries is important, as well as modeling intolerance for unkindness,
I think it's
important to remember what one child psychologist I consulted pointed
children DESERVE and parents EARN. That is, children should be able to
be loved and accepted unconditionally by their parents, parents EARN
children's love and acceptance (of course, children are hard-wired to
regardless, but don't you want that to last into adulthood?).
While I think getting some help with setting good boundaries and limits
lots of good books out there that can help you, I was surprised no one
recommended any), if you do consult a counselor, find one that will care
of your needs and feelings, not one that will create a dynamic of the
two of you
against your daughter. For crying out loud, she is only 8 years old! She
know, deep down, that you are on her side no matter what. Yes, her
CHANGE and you will help her find better ways to express whatever she
express. If your child doesn't believe that you are on her side, how can
expect her to be guided by you when she is a teen, and you have NO
Yes, you certainly need to do something, and your daughter needs you to
something, because it's not good for her to see you putting up with this
thing from her. She needs to see her mom as strong, powerful and ''in
feel safer that way!
Some books you might want to check out: ''Loving Your Child Is Not
Enough,'' ''1, 2,
3 Magic,'' ''Positive Discipline,'' ''Unconditional Parenting'' A
search on Amazon under
''Child Discipline'' will bring up many more books, no doubt, and the
likely have many of them, if you don't want or can't spend the money to
I recommend reading more than one, as no one book is likely to be
perfect in every way, but you'll get something from each one you read.
Best of luck to you and your daughter, you both deserve it!
Well, everyone seemed to think that strong discipline would work, and
that you just
had to make your daughter tow the line. I don't think this method
for every child. My son is four, so my comments don't carry the weight
experience with a child of your daughter's age. Still, he is a handful
in this regard,
and I have found that the tow the line idea works sometimes, but also
backfire. For him, I've found one thing that really works is to
what he says every time. So if he says, ''You stupidosaurus''--for a
while this was
favorite thing to say to not just me, but everyone--I decided finally
punishments that just increased his use of this word) to start saying,
''You're right, I
am (or daddy is) a stupendousasaurus. Thank you so much for noticing.''
this, and kept testing and testing my resolve to misinterpret this. With
a smile on
my face and seemingly genuine gratitude, I just kept thanking him and
what he was saying to what would sound nice. We did this repeatedly for
a couple of
days, and then voila, no more stupidosaurus comments to anyone. For him,
tactic works far, far better than the strong discipline techniques,
which he sort of
feeds on for some reason. Those techniques generally just make things
Anyway, it's worth a try perhaps.
I am having an issue with my almost 6 yr. old daughter - she is
incredibly rude to adults outside our family. She is otherwise a
fun-loving joyous kind child but in the last month I have been
getting feedback from our carpooling family that she does not
speak when they ask her a question - she instead looks out the
window and ignores them - the 4th grader we carpool with (who
picks her up at her classroom to head home) reports that my
daughter is reluctant to go with her and drags her heels and
pretty much makes people wait for her to be ready to go. Today
in her classroom after school her teacher asked her to help her
with something and my daughter said flat out ''no''. It seems she
has entered the self-centered zone where she believes that the
world will wait for her and that it also revolves around her.
There is no change at home or at school (that I can discover)
that would make her so reluctant to be polite. She seems to
have become entrenched in this behavior almost as a result of
our discussing it at home. I want to help her overcome this
problem - we have tried taking away privileges, playdates, extra
fun stuff, etc. and are about to embark on a sticker/incentive
plan to get her to change her behavior. She is very precocious
and smart and is aware that her behavior is hurting people's
feelings. Help! any advice out there?
nice mama rude daughter
Your daughter's behavior doesn't sound that unusual to me for a six year old. My
son is seven and I work in his classroom a lot and the not answering thing is BIG.
Not that I accept that but it just isn't that unusual. Also dawdling is the number one
complaint among my friends. I did notice however that is does seem to be around
the carpooling in particular that this is coming up. Any possibility she is
by the other children she rides with or in any way doesn't feel comfortable with
them? It could all relate to one incident that would seem minor to an adult but left
her nervous. And kids her age can't always articulate what is bothering them. My
son would not want to carpool with anyone he didn't know exceedlingly well and I
find that is not unusual among his friends.
That said, my strategies for coping with not being answered is to state the answer
(and I often will make the answer something I know my son would not agree to just
to get a response)... ''I assume you don't want french fries since you didn't answer
me.'' For the dawdling I will use a timer. I used to set a timer while my son put on
his shoes. I didn't hang out and I didn't say anything..just set the timer - worked
great. I also will often make it a race (which I always let him win) to go places,
change clothes, etc. That also works well.
Don't be too hard on her, annoying as it is, it is typical of this age. She hasn't
suddenly turned into some rude child that will forget all her good manners. Heck if
that is the worst you get at this age you are doing well. It does seem to be an age of
lots of testing. They go out into the world and try to make sense of it and it can be
scary. Elementary school is a very big deal and comes with lots of huge changes and
expectations. It is a time of transition and lots of parents find 6 a challenging age.
Does anyone out there know what is ''age-appropriate'' rudeness (if
there is such a thing) and just plain old unacceptable rudeness in
a seven year old? Our daughter is very polite in public, or with
teachers and strangers, but at home, she is very rude to us. Her
responses to what we believe are resonable requests (granted, they
usually involve transitions, which is another issue all
together!), seem curt, rude, and disrepectful. I am talking about
such responses as growling, ''Fine!'' (and stomping off to execute
the request, such as teeth brushing), or eye rolling and the like.
Also, we are interested in what works best for this age group--
loss of privileges or a reward system of some kind in order to
curb this behavior?
Boy, do I know this one! My (almost) seven year old was really getting rude.
Mostly by the tone of her voice, which I was ignoring until I realized that
was NOT the way I wanted to be spoken to, by anyone. So I sat her down and
told her that we had a new ''politeness policy'' in our house. I was very
about the behaviors that I wanted her to change, and that violation of the
policy would result in loss of video/TV watching time (this is highly coveted
and somewhat sparsely given in our house). We had been through the need for
behavior change when she was four, and we found that rewards for good
behavior weren't ANYWHERE near as effective as what we term ''loss of
The main thing (for us) was to find something she really loved and would miss.
She had to lose privileges (i.e. video time) only 2 or 3 times in the beginning
and now still responds beautifully to just the threat of loss of privileges
(counting to five is the signal), three years later. It's important to be
about what you're asking, and perhaps give a warning the first time or two (but
your kid will have to really lose privileges to get the point that you're
a happy mom
I have to ask what makes your daughter polite in public? Is it the
knowledge that she shouldn't be rude, and/or that being rude would
upset you? Does she know you would find that unacceptable? If yes to
any of the above, then there is no difference to how she should be
treated at home. So many parents nowadays try to reason with their
children as if they were adults. We seem to forget that they are children.
Parents need to be adamant and say NO when necessary. I have a four
year old niece who can be as wild as any child at home, but she always
knows when to say ''please and thank you'' anywhere - including at
home and she knows how to behave outside the home. There were
never any exceptions to this. There was no reward system or privileges
- just a very serious ''No, we do not act like this towards anyone, esp. to
our elders.'' She is also allowed to state her feelings but she knows her
boundaries - adults are still the authority and must be treated with
respect, not as peers.
There's no ''age-appropriate rudeness''; rudeness is
inappropriate at every age. I had a similar problem with
rudeness in my kids, and found a fantastic book that changed
how our family functions: ''Backtalk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude
Behavior in Your Kids'' by Audrey Ricker and Carolyn Crowder.
It's recommended on the parents of teens website, but covers
all ages from three to adult.
Basically, you need to stick to a response something
like: ''The way you're speaking to me is not respectful. It
makes me less willing to do something for you, so I won't be
able to ...[drive you to the mall, make your lunch, let Alex
sleep over, take you ice skating, etc.] Very calmly. For 7-
year-olds, the recommended consequence is often instant removal
from family activities; for adult children it could be instant
termination of financial support. You need to have appropriate
It can be a little terrifying at first -- I used it on a 16-
year-old who is physically much larger than me and was
simultaneously dependent on me for help with math homework and
also very abusive during the help. When I told him, the
morning after reading this book, that he was treating me
disrespectfully and so I would not be able to help him with
that day's homework, he begged and pleaded and got angry and
more abusive and begged some more. I stuck to it, and he
stomped out, violent and furious. But he came home like a
different kid -- treated me like a human being, was cooperative
and cheerful in every way. His brother, who was also pretty
rude, only had to see this happen to do some serious shaping up
himself. Highly recommended.
Yes, I do mean it.
As the mom of a 6 1/2 year old girl, I am soooo familiar with
this behavior! At school, my daughter is a polite, somewhat
quiet, studious child (or so I've been told!). However, at
home, she frequently feels comfortable behaving in a
manner as you describe -- rude, rolling eyes, deep sighs,
growls. We have decided that she is trying on ''a new hat'' so
to speak and testing these new behaviors. That is fine, but
we also decided that these behaviors are not acceptable
and have sat down with her to explain that although she may
be frustrated, as a member of our family, we have certain
expectations from her. One is that she respects the others
in the family and treats them as she would like to be treated.
The other is that she can use her words to express her
displeasure or anger in an appropriate way -- growling,
sighing , etc ... when asked to do something is not allowed.
When she does this, she is sent to her room for a 15 minute
time out (she doesn't like this at all). It seems to work.
Although she wants to try these new behaviors, she is also
seeking out what her boundaries are regarding them, so we
feel that we need to be quite clear -- so far it has worked!
Not Sure What I'll Do at 16!
I have the same thing with my foster daughter from time to
time. I have been breaking her of the habit, so I feel some
justification to respond to you here.
I am kinda old school, I think my kids should always show
respect to adults, especially their parents unless they are
just harmlessly fooling around. The nasty tone and negative
attitude when I have done nothing to warrant it really gets me
Here are some steps that I actually have gone thru, but lately
just number one is necessary -- it is all really sinking in.
(1) I tell ''jenny'' to please act nice and I point out that
her negative attitude is not appreciated.
(2) I explain that being nasty with me will only result in me
being nastier back and I ask if she would like us to be nice to
each other or screaming at each other.
(3) Still acting rude, I calmly and quietly send her to her
room to stay there alone until she wants to be nice, but I
decide when she is ready to be nice, not by her just blurting
out ''but I am going to be nice!''
(4) The last straw is actually giving her a time out in her
room for x-number of hours, or canceling any TV or outings for
''Jenny'' does better on just about anything when she knows
of time what the consequences are going to be. Sometimes I
have to remind myself of this and have a little meeting with
her to set down my expectations and what the consequences will
be for breaches.
Good luck. You sound like a great mom and your daughter is
just doing normal kid stuff, testing the boundaries.
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