After calmly and quietly disciplining my four-year-old daughter one day, she gravely stated, “Mommy, you forgot to ask for forgiveness.”
I had to think a minute before I realized that recently I had corrected her a number of times using harsh or angry words. And, each time I had repented immediately, asking for her forgiveness for my unkind reaction. Her young brain didn’t quite understand that when I corrected her respectfully and kindly, I had no need to ask for forgiveness. The asking had been a little too much a part of the routine, and she was growing to expect it. I was tremendously humbled as I tried to explain to my darling young child that I was responsible for my words and, sometimes, I got it right.
Have you asked for a re-do lately?
Our children need to know we do not consider ourselves to be above the law of our homes. (This does not include hiding dark chocolate!) Establishing the habit of asking for a re-do when you have reacted instead of responding to your children, creates an atmosphere of respect.
Will you take the challenge and practice asking for a re-do? (Click here for more information about the re-do for Moms.)
If you have begun to incorporate this habit concerning your behavior toward your children, you can begin to expect the same from your children. In this scenario, in addition to the re-do, the compromise is introduced. A compromise can be requested by the child and is designed by the parent, if the parent agrees to grant a compromise. As a child matures, he can offer design ideas, but the compromise is either accepted or rejected in a kind way by the parent. Examples are included in the scenario below.
The IDEAL response when your child talks back rudely to you.
The actual words your child says may or may not be disrespectful or rude. The tone in which those words are said is as important as the choice of words. Even “Yes, Ma’am” or “Thank you” can be disrespectful if spoken in a snide or sarcastic tone. How you receive the message is subjective because the hearer’s state of mind also makes a difference. You may have misinterpreted the tone because you are remembering past offenses.
Are you unfamiliar with the IDEAL1 response? Click here to learn more, then return to the example below.
Here is an example script:
Your child replies, “Whatever.” after you have given brief instructions concerning her chores.
I – Respond Immediately
- You stop and…
D – Respond Directly to the Child
- Making eye contact, touch her gently to get her attention. Your direct response ensures she knows she also has your attention.
E – Response is Effective and Measured
- With a smile, playfully say, “Oh, my, could you use more respectful words? Please use a respectful voice and words to let me know what you would like to do.” or “…what you need.”
A – Response is Action-based
- Still smiling say, “Let’s have a re-do, and you use a respectful voice and words. You may ask if I have time to help you, or you may ask for a compromise.”
L – Level the response at the Behavior, Not at the Child
- After the child has successfully accomplished the re-do say, “Good job using a pleasant, respectful voice and words! I can help you for five minutes, and if you work diligently, maybe we can get it all done.”
- If your child asks for a compromise, you could offer, “Would you like to play for five more minutes, and then finish your chores without my help, or would you like for me to help you now?” Then let the child decide. If she opts to play, be sure she will have time to finish her chores after five more minutes.
…specifically in this example of talking back rudely to you.
R – Relational Tension
- Has there been relational tension between us today? What is the source of this tension? Have I been the cause of it? Did I speak disrespectfully to my child? What could be done to relieve this tension?
E – Unrealistic or Negative Expectations
- Have I been unreasonable in what I expect of my child?
- Has my child been pushed from one thing to the next all day with no time for a break or to do something she chooses to do?
- Should I have considered how tired she would be, or should I have scheduled the day differently?
- Did my frustration and mental pressure affect my child’s behavior?
S – Sensory Overload
- Is the environment causing difficulties in my child’s sensory processing and integration?
See the Homeschool Mom’s Survival Guide about behavior struggles for more help in this area.
T – Training Required
- At a peaceful time, I need to give my child examples of respectful words and tones and help her practice using them.
- I need to teach my child about the importance of showing respect. (For example: What would happen if your dad said, “Whatever.” the next time his boss gave him an assignment or project to do?
- I need to engage her in a more friendly way while we work together.
- What are some ideas that will help me be relevant and fun in the current training need?
- When can we engage in role playing, take turns being each other, or make a game of practicing the proper behavior?
After working through REST, you will begin to see the causes of the misbehavior in this situation, and it will likely help you understand the causes of misbehavior in other situations. You will discover remedies to prevent similar types of misbehavior in the future. Continue practicing the IDEAL response and thinking through your child’s misbehavior with REST.
1Karyn, B. Purvis, David R. Cross, Wendy Lyons Sunshine, The Connected Child, (New York: McGraw Hill, 2007), 96.