Well, here I was, blissfully chugging along the road of motherhood, feeling blessed – kid was being good, doing well in school, with many friends and indulging in activities that he enjoyed….. until wham! it seemed as if one day this sweet-natured kid went to bed and woke up with major attitude. What with the eye-rolls, and back talk and defiant ways, we are constantly at loggerheads, shouting at each other, which in turn brought on further displays of bad attitude – doors being banged, stalking away while I was talking to him and what have you. But since I have been down this road earlier with his older sister, let me some of the things that have worked for me, and hopefully will work for you.
1) Let them know that any disrespect that they show you will not be tolerated, and walk away from the scene calmly. Yes, this is very hard to do, but you as the parent have to walk the talk – it is very easy to pay back shout for shout and insult for insult, but then you will go nowhere. Say that you will continue the discussion when he is calmer; and then, set firm rules, explain that this attitude will not be tolerated and that such behavior will have consequences — tell your child what privileges will be withheld.
) Then, follow through. The bad attitude is a matter of testing your boundaries – your kid is trying to see how far he can go with you. Actions speak louder than words. I had told my son that next time he gave me attitude, he would not be allowed to go watch a match. He forgot about it, until I said he could not go on the day of the match. It was very difficult to stand strong against all the begging and pleading and the near-tears, but I held firm; I had done the same thing – withholding a big privilege – when my older daughter had given me attitude before, and it worked beautifully. Guess what? It worked beautifully here too!
3) Lastly, be firm, and stay calm. Sure, it is very hurtful to hear the things your kids hurl at you – they have lived with you all their lives and know exactly which buttons to push. It helps to develop a thicker skin and be a little more compassionate. The kids today are dealing with a lot of stuff, in a world that we ourselves sometimes find hard to navigate, let along them at their young age. Add to that the confusing messages and pressures coming at them through the media, their friends etc, mix it up with the raging hormones, and no wonder they are lashing out at the nearest object – and unfortunately, that object is often you.
If it is of any consolation, check with your parents about how you were at that age – I’m sure they will have some interesting things to tell you about yourself. And though you may find it hard to believe when you are in the midst of the eye-rolling and sarcastic back-talking, let me tell you from experience that this is just a stage they are passing through, and they will soon turn back into the lovely children you first knew!