Disrespectful Child: What Kind of Discipline Should You Use?

Disrespectful kids are hard to deal with. Learn discipline techniques you should use to teach your kids to be respectful, on HealthyPlace.

Disrespectful children are frustrating and even hurtful, and many parents need help knowing how to discipline a child who is disrespectful. It often seems that nothing you do works, that kids become worse each time you try to end their disrespectful behavior. Dealing with such kids is usually heated and emotional for both kids and parent; therefore, beginning the correction process by intentionally choosing your mindset is an important first step in learning how to discipline a disrespectful child.

How parents view their child’s behavior is the foundation of discipline. Adina Soclof, author of Parenting Simply (“Disciplining Your Kids: Can Laughter be a Sign of Defiance?”, n.d.), explains,

    “It is how we perceive their behavior that sets the tone for how we discipline
    children. If we view their behavior as disrespectful and defiant, we will
    discipline in an angry manner. If we view their behavior with compassion and
    understanding, our discipline will be kinder and more effective.”

It might seem counterintuitive, but kindness and compassion are essential in approaching a disrespectful child. That does not mean, however, that you should excuse their behavior or give in to them when they’re being rude.

Once you’ve adopted the healthy parenting perspective that acting out of compassion for our kids is better than reacting to them in anger, it’s time to start the teaching process. Keep this crucial principle in mind: address kids’ disrespectfulness every time it happens. Rudeness can become an ingrained habit if it’s not extinguished. Further, it’s imperative to deal with rude behavior immediately in the moment, before it escalates.

Guiding Principles for Disciplining a Child Who is Disrespectful

Kids are versatile; they can be rude in a lot of ways. They can ignore parents, either not listening or pretending not to listen. They might be master eye-rollers. Sometimes they laugh at you. They talk back. Their tone can be scathing, and they often make rude comments or even put-downs.

Understandably, this behavior provokes parental anger, and it’s tempting to want to yell, threaten, name-call, and punish. These reactions, however, promote more disrespect from kids. Instead of negative, emotional reactions, there are much more effective ways to disciplining a child who talks back or laughs at you or is otherwise insolent.

See: How to Discipline a Child Without Hitting or Yelling

The most effective way to teach your child that you won’t tolerate disrespectful behavior is to keep it simple. These general principles—the five Cs— will help you approach your child when they’re ill-mannered:

  • Communicate respectfully, in a way that models the treatment you want from them.
  • Be clear. Make your rules and expectations transparent and well-known. Require certain responsibilities, and make sure your child knows what they are.
  • Consequences replace harsh and arbitrary punishment. They should be straightforward and related to the behavior. Sarcasm and eye-rolling when you ask your child to put their phone away for dinner might lead to the loss of the phone for the remainder of the night.
  • Consistency is important. Decide on your plan, including the consequences for rude behavior, and use it every time. Be consistent even when kids try to talk you out of a consequence. Remain calm, and stick with your discipline plan.
  • Be calm. Calm and steady is the most valuable way to discipline a kid who is disrespectful. You might need to step away to cool off. Tell your child that’s what you’re doing. It teaches them a valuable coping skill.

What Kind of Discipline Techniques Should You Use with Disrespectful Kids?

Let the above principles guide you in your specific interactions with your child when they act out offensively. How to discipline a disrespectful child involves planning ahead of time what your rules, expectations, and limits for behavior are and then teaching them to your kids. Also, develop examples of consequences they’ll face for insolence and, again, make sure your kids know what they are. Having this in place will help you remain calm and straightforward when you need to enforce them.

While you do want to deal with disrespect immediately, it’s recommended that you give kids a warning when they begin to get cheeky. This gives them a chance to reset. Give only one warning. More than that teaches kids that you don’t mean what you say and that they don’t have to listen. Leave the room briefly to allow kids to switch gears and save face. If kids continue to break the limits after you’ve returned, calmly give them their consequence.

How to discipline a child who is disrespectful involves, again, your perspective. Choose to be positive in your approach. Yelling and threats don’t work, but statements that tell kids what they can do once they talk to you nicely do work, and well. Positivity helps move everyone forward to the ultimate goal: teaching respectful behavior and maintaining a loving relationship.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 11). Disrespectful Child: What Kind of Discipline Should You Use?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: January 16, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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