Sometimes kids get an attitude and talk back. Shocking, I know.
Occasionally our children are a little too big for their britches and like to correct every minor detail and get very persnickety about things we parents say. It’s surprising, indeed.
Once in awhile, our cherubs behave in ways that make us want to lose our shit. Or maybe that’s just me.
No? It’s not just me? You’ve been there too? Yes, of course you have.
If your kiddo is older than, let’s say, a newborn, I bet you’ve been ready to lose your mind with the sass, the I-know-everything attitude, the eye-rolling, disrespectful tone, and grumbling about doing anything they don’t feel like doing: chores, attending a family function, going grocery shopping, helping with dinner, going to a movie they didn’t get to pick, scooping the cat litter, eating dinner, being hungry, going to bed, getting up in the morning, going to their room, coming out of their room … it’s an exhaustive list, honestly–and it differs day to day, sometimes hour to hour.
If, by some crazy chance, your darling angel has not yet given you lip, surely there will be something, some day that will set off your precious offspring and spark some very undesirable behavior. I promise.
*Interestingly, I’ve found with the Boy that when he’s getting his way a lot, with fewer chores and responsibilities, living with more freedom, he seems to be less appreciative and expects more … which leads to the snappy and sassy behavior when he doesn’t have things just like he wants them to be.
I love those times. Honestly.
Well, in the moment, notsomuch. But after I’ve given the offending child the what for up one side and down the other leaving no stone unturned? Oh, indeed–I love those times.
How? Why? Am I crazy?
(That’s a definite maybe.)
Let me explain.
This is possibly my Most Golden Parenting Trick: I give them Opportunities.
Any time my kids are smart asses, give me shit about something, or act in ways that are rude or disrespectful, I give them Opportunities–to make it better, to correct their attitude, to change the way they’re interacting with me, to make it right.
When they give me trouble, they’re making my life more difficult. So, as reparations, I give them chores or things to do that will be helpful to me to make my life less difficult … and I call those Opportunities.
I give them extra chores or jobs, one after the other and they have to come see me after each one asking, “what else can I do for you?” to find out the next one. As this process starts, their attitude is still in full effect because they’re angry for having consequences. I make them aware of their tone of voice and body language that indicate they’re not yet communicating with me in ways that are respectful and acceptable. Then I tell them “I’ll give you all the Opportunities you need to get this right.” Then I tell them the next chore or job I’d like them to do for me. We repeat this as many times as necessary with one or two more Opportunities after they come back to me with an appropriately phrased “what else can I do for you?” to be sure they’ve truly taken advantage of their Opportunity to grow, learn, and make things right.
They’re always shitty about it at first, and ALWAYS end up sweet and kind by the end–and it’s genuine emotion from start to finish.
The physical work of the chores helps them work off their frustration and distracts them from their anger after being corrected and very fully put in their place. There’s some kind of therapy in cleaning for them–scrubbing away the attitude, dusting away the sassiness, sweeping up the disrespectful tone, clearing out the negativity making way for respect and appreciation for their nice and full lives in our family … and I get all kinds of things done around the house that are helpful for me.
Come to think of it, I’ve got a bunch of things that need done … it’s about time one of these kids gets lippy with me!
(This post originally ran on Real Life Parenting)
About the author: Jennifer Hicks is the writer behind Real Life Parenting. With sass, smarts, and a big mouth, she keeps it real writing what most people think but are afraid to say out loud. Tackling the good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes the very funny in life and parenting, she’s often inspired by her two teens: the Boy and Girl. She’s been featured on multiple sites on-line and went viral on The Huffington Post with her piece “Dear Mom on the iPhone: You’re Doing Fine” where she was named Best of Huffington Post Parents. Jennifer is the producer of Listen to Your Mother: Pittsburgh and is a contributing author in various anthologies. You can find her inspired hashtags on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.