When Your Kids Try to Boss You Around
Q: I am amazed by how I am noticing *already* eye rolling, sighing, attitude in general from my 5 and 3 year olds. We have zero tolerance at our house for disrespectful attitudes, and we also require obedience (“you obey Mommy the first time, with no sass.”). I am starting to notice especially with my oldest an attitude of entitlement (“Why didn’t you give me the pink plate? You know I like pink!”) or even thinking it’s okay to boss Mommy and Daddy around. Again, it’s not something we’ve ever tolerated, so I have no idea where it’s coming from.
I don’t know what else to do to squash the yucky attitudes I’m noticing. Is this an authority issue? Or is it just something that requires more heart training and consistency on my part?
Thank you so much for your insight! It is such a blessing to me, and my family.
A: At these ages, you are still in the thick of reinforcing their understanding of your authority.
So in our home this is how that exchange would look:
- Child: “Why didn’t you give me the pink plate? You know I like pink!”
- Me: “You don’t talk to mama that way. Put your hands on the green one and say, ‘thank you mom for getting me a plate and making me lunch.’”
- Child: “whine/whine/whine/fuss/fuss/maybe mumble something with a grumpy attitude.”
- Me: “Nope. You were speaking perfectly loud before. You can do it now. Speak at a normal volume and say, “‘thank you mom for getting me a plate and making me lunch.’”
- Child: may/may not say it the full way I want it said…
- Me: … so I keep at it until they do. Even coaching their face and general demeanor. “Now, say it with a not-grumpy face.” (I might even show them- “this is how you look right now–” show them grumpy face & slumped posture… “but this is how I want you to look”, face tilted up, eyebrows relaxed, with an at-rest agreeable face– note: I don’t make them fake a smile, but I do want to teach them to be pleasant and polite.)
After they say it the right way — (i.e., “thank you mom for getting me a plate and making me lunch.” with a pleasant look on their face– not faking cheeriness but being polite and agreeable), I’ll say, “that’s great. Thanks for changing your attitude. Ready for lunch now?”
And we move on with the day with no grumping from me or them. Normal, pleasant interactions after that.
Until we hit the next “pink plate” incident. 😉
Discipline and training our kids is an ongoing process. They won’t get it right the first time, or maybe even completely get it right the fourth time, but over time, you will notice that they are growing to be pleasant, agreeable, winsome children (even when things don’t go their way) who ARE receiving your training and benefitting from it.
They aren’t going to stop being rude on their own, but with time, and with your help and consistent training, they can grow to be children who respect you and don’t treat you rudely.
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