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Key Takeaways:

  • Children and parents who respect each other have more open, nurturing, and empathetic relationships. They can freely express themselves to each other.
  • A child might demonstrate disrespect by defying the rules, being physically aggressive, mocking their parents, and refusing to take responsibility for their actions.
  • You can teach your child respect by modeling respectful behavior, using positive reinforcement, and seeking professional help when necessary.

Respect is a vital aspect of parent-child relationships. When a child doesn’t respect their caregivers, it can jeopardize future relationships and hinder their academic and professional success.

If you notice these signs your child doesn’t respect you, it may be time for an intervention. The sooner you address the behavior, the easier it will be to develop a nurturing relationship.

The Importance of Respect in Parent-Child Relationships

Respect between parents and children is a give-and-take relationship. Mutual respect fosters healthy communication, as both parties feel comfortable expressing their emotions and voicing their needs [*].

While parents may naturally question some of their children’s decisions, it’s equally vital for them to understand why a child might act in a certain way. Parents who demand respect from their children without teaching them about it tend to raise children who don’t respect authority. Thus, a parent needs to avoid making their children feel inferior.

When parents observe and listen, children feel safer confiding in them. They develop empathy and compassion and are more likely to be honest.

10 Signs Your Child Doesn’t Respect You

Some disrespectful behavior goes beyond what most consider “normal” rebellion. Here are a few signs your child doesn’t respect you.

1. Ignoring or disobeying your rules

Children who don’t follow rules don’t respect your authority. They may pretend not to hear anything when you provide instructions or actively defy your boundaries. When they break these rules, they may not take responsibility for their actions.

In this case, setting stricter rules may not be effective, especially if your child doesn’t fear the potential consequences. Instead, parents must communicate the importance of how rules protect their children’s well-being and safety.

2. Persistent talking back

“Talking back,” might include interrupting you when you’re speaking, arguing, or being disrespectful in front of others. These behaviors indicate that a child doesn’t value your thoughts and opinions, as they are constantly dismissive about them.

When a child talks back, it’s important not to respond with anger. Find ways to encourage open communication by listening actively, even when it may be challenging to do so.

3. Ignoring personal boundaries

A child who doesn’t respect your boundaries might invade your personal space by entering your room without knocking or taking things from you without your knowledge. In addition, they may not apologize when they do something wrong.

Show your child the importance of boundaries by respecting their space and explaining why consent and permission matter.

4. Lack of politeness

Impolite children typically aren’t afraid to disrespect their parents, even in public. They might roll their eyes, make sarcastic comments, or do something to hurt their caretaker’s reputation. While this can be embarrassing, scolding a child in public may reinforce this behavior.

Instead, take your child somewhere private and explain why the behavior is unacceptable. Illustrate that being impolite in front of their friends would embarrass them, and that they may not appreciate the behavior from you.

5. Ignoring your feelings

Kids who ignore their parents’ feelings may have a lack of empathy. They may not apologize for their rude behavior or understand that they did anything wrong.

Reinforce empathy by putting yourself in their shoes—what might’ve caused them to believe their behavior was acceptable?

6. Refusing to take responsibility

Children don’t like to be wrong, especially when they behave unacceptably in public. They might know their behavior will hurt or inconvenience others, then do it anyway. Unapologetic children might feel they deserve special treatment or should be excused because of their age.

Curb this behavior by modeling what it means to follow through. If you promise to help with their homework, take the time to do so. If you can’t follow through, apologize and explain why you couldn’t honor your commitment.

7. Mocking or ridiculing you

A child who doesn’t value your hobbies or interests might make fun of you. They might even belittle your career or show disinterest in your opinions.

The key to addressing this behavior is working on the communication aspect of your relationship. Encourage your child to express their opinions, interests, and passions, strengthening your relationship.

8. Physical aggression towards you

A child who is verbally abusive toward their parents may become physically abusive. They might hit you in an argument or when they don’t get what they want. Physical aggression can become extremely dangerous and should be addressed with the mediation of a professional.

9. Dismissing your contributions

When children dismiss their parents’ gifts and contributions, they may see no end to what they feel they deserve. Ingratitude can make a parent question whether their efforts are appreciated or even worth it.

Dismissive behavior can significantly impact a parent’s self-esteem and make it difficult to want to do nice things for their child. Try to reinforce good behavior by praising your child when they show appreciation or explaining why you appreciate them when they do things for you.

10. Seeking validation outside the family

External validation is normal until a child no longer appreciates the love and care they receive from their parents. Perhaps they aggressively seek validation because they don’t feel they receive it at home. Other times, children desperately seeking to be affirmed outside of their family circle may feel suffocated by their parents.

Whatever the case, providing a good balance of affirmations can make your child feel good without feeling smothered.

How to Gain Your Child’s Respect

Adolescent mood can change in a second, but this shouldn’t excuse disrespectful behavior. Here are some tips for handling questionable behavior and gaining your child’s respect:

  • Be calm and patient. A child met with anger, aggression, and disrespect will reflect these very behaviors. Reacting calmly will bring your child’s explosive moods back down and put them in a better headspace to talk.
  • Don’t resort to punishment. While negative reinforcement may occasionally be necessary, research shows that positive reinforcement may be more beneficial [*]. Children appreciated and rewarded for good behavior are more likely to develop good habits.
  • Call your child out. Just because your child may respond better to praise doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call out their disrespectful behavior. Tell them when they are acting poorly and explain why this behavior is unacceptable.
  • Model respectful behavior. Young children learn by observing their caretakers’ behavior. If you’re rude to others, your child will follow suit. Lead by example. Thank people when they do something nice for you. Apologize when you’ve made a mistake or done something wrong.
  • Have regular conversations about respect. A child may not be respectful because they don’t know what it means. Teach your child all about respect and what it looks like to respect others.
  • Relationship building through one-on-one time. There is a saying that goes “Kids spell love, T-I-M-E.” Time spent connecting with your child is one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship. When children feel a strong connection to their caregiver they are more likely to trust and respect them. Turn off electronics, remove distractions, and give your full attention to a one-on-one activity with your child. Try for one hour of undivided attention per day.
  • Seek professional help. Especially if your child actively hurts others, it may be time to seek professional help. Speak to child specialists with experience in behavioral therapy.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with a disrespectful child can feel disheartening. However, understanding why they may demonstrate these behaviors can put you on the right path to making them more communicative and empathetic.

Use our character education posters to better understand what your child may be experiencing.

Sources:

  1. Gadsden V, Ford M, and Breiner H. “Parenting Matters.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016.
  2. Schieltz KM, Wacker DP, Suess AN, Graber JE, Lustig NH, Detrick J. “Evaluating the Effects of Positive Reinforcement, Instructional Strategies, and Negative Reinforcement on Problem Behavior and Academic Performance: an Experimental Analysis.” Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 2019.