DISRESPECTFUL AT HOME

DISRESPECTFUL AT HOME

Jessica writes:

Dear Dr. Cartmell,

I have read most of your books as well as several other parenting books, however there is a situation with our oldest son that I would like your advice on how to handle. He is 10 years old and for the most part a kind, sweet, and helpful child. He does well at school and all of his teachers love him and speak very highly of him. However, he often shows a disrespectful attitude to our family, especially using his tone of voice towards us and his two younger siblings. Most concerning is that every couple of months, when he is being disciplined he will totally loose it and refuse his consequences, yelling, throwing things and saying rude and unkind words. He is always remorseful later or the next day, but these episodes seem to repeat themselves. I believe he thinks he is being treated unfairly or at least that is what he says. Any advice would be appreciated!
Blessings,
Jessica

Dr. Todd writes:

I'm glad that your son is doing well most of the time.  It sounds like there are a few times when his anger is getting the best of him.  Here is an idea that will help. 

Sit down with your son and reflect on the fact that while he is usually very respectful, every now and then his anger beats him and he chooses to talk/act disrespectfully, which hurts people in your family and gets him in trouble (e.g., loses privileges, etc.). Then, identify a few of the situations that he has gotten angry about, such as turning off a video game or going to bed. 

Next, figure out a few "flexible thoughts" that will help him in those situations--thoughts that he can say to himself that will help him make a good choice.  For example, when it is time to turn off a video game, he can think, "It's no big deal," and "I can play it again tomorrow."  When it is time to go to bed, he can think, "I should just do it," and "I can play again tomorrow." 

Help your son to memorize these flexible thoughts and encourage him to use them when these situations arise.  If he does, then they will help him make a much better choice with his words and actions.  If he does not use them, then he is more likely to act disrespectfully and get in trouble. 

Encourage him to use his flexible thoughts, practice flexible thinking with him (you might want to consider The Flexible Thinking Game), and give him appropriate negative consequences when he is disrespectful to others.  If his behavior gets too disrespectful, you can always consult with a good child therapist in your area.

Best wishes,

Dr. Todd

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