Ever wonder how a child gets away with disrespect? Whether it’s with peers or adults? Smacking teeth, talking back, rolling eyes, making mean, demeaning remarks, using profanity, bullying? Rebellion is an act that most if not all children have experienced or will experience at least once in a lifetime. The same goes for disrespect. Although, the two may go may go hand in hand, they are not the same. A child may show short termed rebellion in moments of passion or frustration with no real intentions of hurting anyone or he/she may show a repetitive pattern of disrespectful behavior with the intent to harm emotionally or physically. Both are learned behaviors and behaviors that should be checked immediately but before you go flying off the handle, stomping, yelling and chastising, take a minute to evaluate the child’s environment. What are their parents and home life like? Do the adults/authority figures in the child’s life model similar patterns?
Parents, here’s a chance to do a quick self examination. What are your standards? How are your mannerisms? How is your home life and relationships with those in your home and with others ? Are there patterns of love and affirmation in the home, as well as discipline and vice versa? Is respect something that you exemplify even towards children? Yours and others? I think it’s safe to say that many of us usurp our authority in our children’s lives in attempts to set the tone in our homes and even with other children and yes, we are indeed the authority figures rightfully but at what point do we acknowledge our children and others as human beings with feelings as well as our children? Do their thoughts and opinions matter or should they just comply with whatever we say and whatever we say goes because we’re the adults?
These are all questions I had to ask myself as a mom of 3. I was taught at an early age to respect my elders and others. I was extremely shy but always smiling and wanting to experience the good out of life. Then came real life. Not everyone cares about your feelings, nor is everyone moved by the cheesy smile on your face. Kids are cruel and so are adults. Not knowing that the behaviors of others had nothing to do with me, I became withdrawn and eventually got to the point that I didn’t care to be that smiley, cheesy little person that attempted to start corny little conversations with everyone that walked by. I became just as cold hearted as the mean people I encountered. Deep inside, that warm hearted little girl wanted to emerge but my feelings and the impact of other people’s negative words and actions weren’t worth the risk. After growing up, becoming a mother myself and feeling the challenges of trying to raise respectful children, some moments I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to sit them on the side of the road or lock them in their room for 6 months. Instead I would revert back to those childhood experiences of mine to reflect on triggers or things that may have caused me to rebel in the same or similar ways. I realized that behaviors that stemmed from mine and my husband’s childhoods had subtlety crept their way into our family. We had to re-adjust and balance maintaining our standards and establishing boundaries as their parents.
However a parent reacts to situations around or involving a child will effect how that child reacts and responds to situations and people. As parents, we are our child’s first role model so whatever we model, they mimic. Whatever we allow to go unchecked will not only effect their behavior and relationships with others but it will eventually make its way back to us so although you may think it’s okay or cute to be rude, mistreat, show disrespect to others for whatever reason, remember that a little innocent bystander is picking up every habit that we form. If they see us arguing or being disrespectful to our spouses, people we encounter and even authority figures, they will follow suite. Even if we are not verbally or physically disrespectful to others, what we say around the child about others will have the same effect. That’s how easy it is for a child to be disrespectful or react to others based off of what they’ve “heard” about them so we must be mindful of what we sow around our children. It is not okay for any child to be disrespectful towards an adult or a person for that matter and as a parent, if we catch it, check it immediately. Don’t shrug it off, make excuses or act like you don’t see it, check it. Allowing this type of behavior not only effects your relationship with the child(again it will come back to bite you) but it reveals why we encounter so many rude and disrespectful adults. These experiences as a child, follows them into adulthood, shapes their personalities and effects their relationship with others. They have no filters or regards for anyone’s feelings but their own and it creates a sense of entitlement which can be unhealthy. A more suitable term- “outspoken” has become a part of society that it acceptable. “Just because I feel like saying something, I can. Who’s going to check me?” becomes the mentality but just because you “can” doesn’t mean you should. People are still entitled but all things have consequences. Law of Attraction will become your friend until you begin to show responsibility and take ownership for your actions towards others.
There’s not much we can do about the behavior of an adult besides deciding whether we will tolerate it or not but there’s alot we can do to mold a child and make sure that they don’t take certain behaviors into adulthood and become the nuisance to others that you try to avoid. That is the God-given authority and responsibility that we as parents and guardians have been given by the creator himself. To train our children in the right way so that you both will reap good things now and in the future.
Maybe you don’t have any children of your own. There are other ways that you can be influential in the life of another. Some child, somewhere is in need of love, guidance and structure, whether it’s a niece, nephew, friend of the family, neighbor or child in your community; there’s an impact to make. What a privilege it is to be an asset in the development of a child in a positive way. In order to do so, we must all self reflect to make sure we are leaving a POSITIVE impression on others and not a negative one. Have you ever thought or even cared how a child feels while in or after leaving your presence? Are you encouraging or discouraging? Affirming or belittling? Even in your approach to give structure or discipline, are you harsh or mild? Attitude and delivery are critical to how well a child receives and responds to your advice or correction. We owe no apologies for disciplining a child but remembering that they are human beings with feelings is key to their perception of us. Think about how you receive constructive criticism from others. I can only speak for myself but I’ve never been fond or quick to accept instruction or counsel from someone who is belittling or insensitive to my feelings. In adulthood I’ve learned how to not allow the actions of others to effect me but this is not so easy for a child. There are positive ways to instill discipline without corrupting a child or their view of those in authority but It is nearly impossible to be influential and negative or insensitive at the same time and reap a positive outcome. Many times in my own life I’ve experienced behavior from my children that wasn’t taught to them directly but rather something that they picked up by my actions towards them and others. I had to learn to identify and correct those behaviors immediately. As far as what they experienced from others I had to teach wisdom and ways to deal with criticism and how not to allow others lack of empathy effect them. This has taken time, but not wasted time. It is absolutely worth it! In that sense, it is possible to allow hurtful treatment from others make you better and not become like the offender. Teach your child how to lead and they could be the one to win even those who hurt them!
Even if they don’t, It places them in a position for blessings to flow in their lives in other ways!