How Can I Get My Kids To Respect…and LIKE Me? (Episode 159)
Ah, respect. We know our children should be respectful, but how in the world do you get them to show it? There are many types of parenting styles out there, and we all have our different approaches. However, beyond the approach or style you use, the bigger deal is the connection. We may be parents, but we have our own insecurities. And, time and time again, parenting issues can end up boiling down to a common insecurity in parents: "what if my kids don't like me?"
Does your family care for and respect each other? Do you all truly LIKE one another?
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My Kid gives me No Respect
A listener we'll call June recently asked me this question:
I listened to the podcast you and your mom did on the 5 Pillars of Respect. Such a blessing at the right time! Any tips on how to start teaching respect? I’m a single mom, so our household is a bit different. I feel like I display respect, but my 9 year old son is having a hard time with getting the respect thing.
Now, this conversation went on a bit longer, and became fodder for this whole episode and post, as you'll see below.
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How Do You Choose to Parent?
The challenge when we're entering into being parents is, we often have romantic ideas of what it will look like, what our relationships will be with our children, and how our interactions will go. And too often, we will default to our past history - either trying to replicate or reverse what was done to us.
It can become a slippery slope when a shift happens. We have to decide if that path is really benefiting our child.
If we are frustrated and resenting our children due to the parenting we've done, it's time for a reset - a fierce conversation. Read the book Fierce Conversations - it talks about addressing these conversations with more rationale/reason - not reacting, but being strategic. Look a how can you help them vs. being their friends.
Nathan said, "My hope is they love me when they are grown - they see I cared enough to try even when it was the wrong thing to do."
If we don't show our own humanity in parenting,
how can we expect our children to learn it?
Are you Giving Respect?
So first things first, are you giving respect to your children? The biggest way to get respect is to give it - so first and foremost, are you showing respect for your child? Here are some examples of how we show respect to our kids:
- Knock before entering their room
- Give them space for privacy and honor it. Unless there is major cause for alarm, that means not snooping in their journal or stealing their phone to see their texts. (Remember these are tactics needed when communication is strained - so if you are regularly communicating with your child and are involved in their lives, it's not necessary to micromanage every thought they have).
- Ask their opinion or perspective...and hear them out.
- Treat them as active contributors to the family - we speak to them no differently than we would any conscious adult we respect.
Transitions, Screentime and Natural Consequences
As I talked more with this mama, I asked where the lack of respect happened more than anything, and, like many, she referenced a few biggies, one being transitions. Change can be a lot for anyone, and nothing like 2020 to bring that out!
When it comes to transitions, think about how often you let your kids know what's going on for the day, what to expect, etc. The more prepared they are for when a transition comes, the better. And getting to the root of WHY the transition is happening is important. If your children don't know why they are doing something, they are likely to resist, same as you would!
For screentime, which is another common issue...these are where those natural consequences can really play in. First and foremost, we bring things to their awareness. We talk on the podcast about our experience with screentime and how we shared our observations with our children first and foremost, and asked them to weigh in on it. Second, we established parameters - why do we need or want screens? What do they add to our life? How can we establish some clear boundaries so it doesn't take over?
And, when it does take over, what is a natural consequence? Well, unless your children are paying for their own internet, their own room and board, etc., you, as the parent, still get the final say. When something is abused, it's taken away. For example, a natural consequence for a child who acts out from a TV show is to stop watching that show. A natural consequence for playing video games past an agreed upon time would be not getting to play the video game for the amount of time they went over, or eliminating the game all together.
Bathtub Boundaries with an Ocean of Love
Sometimes as parents, we yearn to give our children the freedom to explore and test their limits. We allow them so much freedom that sometimes it can be a bit too much. It may be your child is acting out due to too much freedom, not because they are restricted.
I use the example of a bathtub and an ocean. Throw a toddler in a bathtub, and it's loads of fun - they can play freely and enjoy splashing around. Yet, throw a toddler in the middle of the ocean and it's a terrifying - there are no limits! The water goes on in every direction, and that child doesn't feel the safety of knowing where they are - without knowing how to swim, they will keep sinking until they finally hit a boundary of some sort.
What is Necessary?
Yes, an easy solution to get back into a reset is to cut out the screens. Screens aren't always the bad guy, but when they take priority over the relationships in the home, this is hands down the easiest to eliminate, and here is why.
Think about what is necessary in your life. When a relationship is abused and/or not respected, look at what interferences are causing the biggest conflict. Youtube, video games, music and TV are not necessary for survival. They are intended to add to, not take away from, your life.
So when they cause division, you can eliminate the person who divides you, or the thing that they are running toward. Keep your kiddo. Think long and hard about whether screens are adding to your child's life right now, or if they have become an element of control he can have over you.
If screens, music, friends, etc are influencing your child toward something negative, what are you going to do about it? Let it happen? Bring awareness to it so they recognize it?
Again, unless your children are paying for their own electronics and internet access, you have every right to take it away. Freedom to explore is one thing. Freedom to exhibit poor choices made by their influences right now may be slight when they are young and just want to cuss and act like a punk, but the older they get, the more adult their consequences will be. Violence and aggression may start as a simple video game. But when testing boundaries means then trying out that cool kick move on a real person, the lines can get muddied and whatever expression is allowed will continue to take root.
What can you truly take ownership of? What can your children set their own parmeters on? Think about how you learn to set your own boundaries and get things done, and how you hold yourself accountable without a parent around - your child may be young at the moment, but they are looking at you to build the skills to self-regulate.
When we give our children power in some things, it helps them step up and take ownership and responsibility for it. If you can shift so they can see the "why" behind what you're asking, and, better yet, you can get them motivated to see/understand/want that bigger why, then you'll have a kid that doesn't fight you on everything.
But What If They Don't Like me?
If you're at this point in the podcast or this post and you're still saying "yes, but..." I have a feeling this may be a bigger part:
"What if...they don't like me? I'm scared they'll hate and resent me."
When I asked this mother about screentime, she stated,
"It causes division, influences negative behavior, and interrupts family connection ."
Remember, dear one, that this isn't just about your child. What type of home do you want to live in? This also means respecting yourself enough to not allow someone to walk all over you. Respect can be shown in our awareness of other's needs, but it can also be in allowing for space to process, honoring different curiosities and interests, and also exhibiting self-love and respect.
If I am worthy enough to be treated with consideration, then, out of respect for myself, if someone abuses this, I will draw a clear boundary around my time with them. Earn the right with your children, and have them earn the right with you.
Flip the Script
We all create reactive scripts for life. Sometimes they aren't beneficial, or they are outdated. Relearning new scripts takes time and also commitment from everyone.
It's human nature to desire, and we want things to go smoothly. But sometimes what worked in the past won't work anymore as new insights and cultural shifts happen. Are you willing to let go of what you are tolerating now in order to get where you want to be?
If your script is fear of rejection, missing out, not being liked...you'll pave the way for it happening. And...
If you don't tell people how to treat you,
you give permission for them to experiment any way they want.
Pay attention to your own self-respect. If you want your kids to love and respect you, it starts within. It is a personal investment that acknowledges that you are worth it being treated with love and respect, and drawing clear boundaries when it doesn't happen.
It takes work to be a parent. It means not always having warm fuzzies and really getting into it with our kids. It means messing up, getting things wrong, losing our temper and saying we're sorry. And it means recognizing we don't always have to like someone to be commited to love them through it.
Some additional resources for you
- Namaste – On Truly Hearing Each Other (Episode 149)
- True Parent Struggles: Screentime (Episode 90)
- Connecting, Screen-time, Challenges and Overwhelm (Episode 72)
- Mom-to-Mom with Joanne Miller: The Five Pillars of Respect (Episode 145)
- How to Nip Parenting Struggles in the Bud (Episode 76)
- True Parent Struggles: TRANSITIONS (Episode 92)
- Bathtub Boundaries with an Ocean of Love (Episode 15)
- The Steps For Emotional Resilience (Episode 150)
- Self-Love, or Self-Sabotage? (Episode 152)
- Parent Styles – Are they helpful or harmful? (Episode 102)
- How do I equip my kid to “adult”? (Episode 89)
- 10 Essential Lessons In Life: Natural Consequences
- Natural Consequences, Discipline…or Punishment
- 10 Essential Lessons for Life: Pick Your Battles
- Learn more about DISC Personality Styles
- Life Long Learners Come In All Personality Styles
- How can I be both teacher and student? Reach for the sun yourself! (Episode 74)
- Your Credibility as Lead Explorer, Not A Teacher (Episode 42)
Your Weekly Challenge:
Think about what script you're playing in your head about you as a parent. Do you truly believe you are deserving of respect?
If we don't believe we're worthy of it, we won't get it. Take a hard look at what is going on in your home. What are you tolerating that is not adding to your home life?
This is always a process - and you'll continue to grow, tweak, define, and pivot as you - and your children - grow. Give yourself some grace that it won't always be perfect, but when you give in once....don't let that become the new precedent. If you mess up and lose consistency, don't follow through, etc., just let it be the exception vs. giving up. You can do this, and the more we stand strong in what we will allow that builds us and grows us, the more we can celebrate how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste.
Questions or comments?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
Or, hop on over to the Mama Says Namaste or Unschooling Families FB groups and ask your question there!
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