It seems the more people I speak to about parenting, the more I realise that actually we are all in the same boat. Working out how to make your child respect you is a real learning curve and sometimes it feels like you'll never actually figure it out.
In our family things are complicated. My daughter, who is six now, only met me when she was a year old. We started living together when she was three and she started calling me Mummy when she was four. At first I really struggled with being a Mum and getting the boundaries right. I expected too much of her and of myself. Over the last few years we've come to understand each other a little better. We don't have the perfect relationship, what mother and daughter do? But we do muddle through, and have learnt a few little tricks along the way to keep things running smoothly.
You know that whole thing of do unto others as you would have them do to you? Well, that goes for kids too.
If you are always shouting at your child they will assume that is an acceptable form of communication and will shout back when they are frustrated. It's a downward spiral from there.
Speak calmly and politely whenever you can, ask them to do things, don't tell them and always, always, say please and thank you.
You're probably thinking I'm mental right now. They are the child, you are the adult, it's up to them to be polite. You don't want to look weak and let them walk all over you, right? That's not going to happen. What will happen is your house will instantly become calmer, quieter. You will find your child accidentally being polite and tantrums will fizzle out quicker when you don't fight back.
Praise the good behaviour
Once you've started to show your child respect and their behaviour begins to change, make sure you reinforce that. If your child accidentally uses please or thank you, thank them for being so polite. If your child throws a tantrum, but it's over quickly, praise them for calming down quickly.
Whatever you do, try to focus on the positives rather than constantly picking out the negatives and you will feel the mood really lift in your home.
Keep them busy
A lot of the time boredom is the root cause of bad behaviour. Your child is stimulated at school by learning and playing, then comes home and has nothing to do except watch TV or argue with you. Try to keep your child busy from the moment they get home until the moment they go to bed. Think of things in half hour blocks (or however long your child can keep their attention for) and stick to a routine.
My daughter, for example, has half an hour to get changed and have an after school snack. Then there's half an hour of home study, half an hour of reading/writing/drawing on her own. Then it's helping make dinner, eating dinner, family time then bedtime routine, all in half hour blocks. Sticking to this means she knows what to expect and just does not have time to get annoyed or frustrated.
One of the most important things you can do is to give your child control. That is, make your child think they are in control. Let me explain. My daughter hates brushing her teeth, it's the main trigger for tantrums and disrespectful attitude blowouts. So when she was younger we let her choose her toothbrush and toothpaste in the shop, that was all the control she needed. As she got older she needed more control, so now we let her choose when in her morning/evening routine she does her teeth. She always does them last, but she does them. And yes, we do sometimes still battle over it, but most of the time, because she feels in control of the situation, it all goes without a hitch. Start to let your child to make their own decisions, within boundaries of course, and they will relax a little and start to behave better.
I know what you're thinking. How is this making my child respect me? The thing is there is no way to make your child respect you. You have to earn it. Following these tips will lead to a better relationship with your child and they will naturally learn to respect and admire you. Don't expect things to change overnight. It will take time and there will still be bad days, but you will get there in the end. I hope these tips help a bit and spare you from some of those stressful evenings us parents know so well!
Do you have any tips? Have you tried any of these strategies before?
Ali is a mum and writer, owner of a lifestyle blog and an all round good egg.
Blogs at: Bunn The Baker
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