LOVE AND LOGIC
Many parents and educators struggle with feeling disrespected by their kids or students. Does this resonate with you? Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Why does this kid think it’s okay to treat me like this?” or “I go out of my way to treat these kids well. Why do they act like I’m stupid?”
Disrespectful behavior (such as eye-rolling, arguing, defiance, lying, etc.) is often a way to test our limits. This is a young person’s way of asking this important question: “Do you love me enough to provide the caring boundaries required to keep me safe from myself?” When limits over respect are inconsistent or weak, disrespectful behavior increases. The child’s self-concept suffers when they lack a role model for learning how to set limits with their peers.
The ability to say “no” to peers starts with
experiencing “no” from one’s parents.
Those familiar with Love and Logic know limits are most effectively provided when we describe what we are willing to do or allow, rather than trying to tell others how they should behave. Describing our own actions provides an enforceable limit. Dictating the actions of another does not. The imperative, “Treat me with respect!” is unenforceable. In contrast:
“I’m happy to do the extra things I do for you when I
feel respected” is enforceable.
Is it okay for a parent or educator to calmly and consistently provide perks only when they feel respected? Absolutely! In fact, it’s essential. Although our children certainly won’t thank us in the short term, we can be assured that doing so will provide the type of limits and security they will need later in life.
A Love and Logic mom described to us how she began the process of gaining her thirteen-year-old son’s respect:
Son: “It’s time for you to take me to practice. Why are you just sitting there?”
Mom: “Oh, this is so sad. It’s just really hard for me to want to do the extra things I do for you when I keep hearing how dumb you think I am.”
Son: “I was just kidding! Why do you make such a big deal out of everything? It’s time to go.”
Mom: “Maybe by next week at this time, I’ll feel better about taking you. I sure hope so.”
She held firm and experienced the predictable onslaught of arguing, pouting, and guilt-trips from her son. “Over the past few months,” she reflected, “I see him becoming a lot calmer and more respectful. I think he’s realizing that I care enough about myself to expect respect. It’s really improved our relationship!” Although it was difficult in the short term, the long-term benefits of her holding firm will go a long way to teaching her son the importance of treating others with respect.
Thank you for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
Dr. Charles Fay