Many parents find themselves repeating the rules and implementing consequences when their child misbehaves, like this: “You know you are not allowed to talk to me like that! Go to your room until you can speak appropriately.”
Many parents also tell me that deep down they don’t feel satisfied with this approach, but they don’t know an alternative. I agree that there’s a better way, and here’s one option:
“Honey, I know you are aware that I don’t like to be spoken to that way. It’s not like you to be disrespectful. What’s going on?”
This strategy for addressing transgression is more likely to call forth the best in your child for several reasons: first, it gives him credit for doing well most of the time and makes it clear that you see this as a temporary glitch, and second, it communicates concern and connection and positions you as a resource rather than an adversary.
Whatever is beneath your child’s misbehavior can be most effectively addressed with your assistance — your empathetic listening and willingness to stay connected and help him through whatever is prohibiting him from being his best are more likely to lead to improved behavior than reminders and isolation.