Disrespectful Child? 5 Best Ways To Deal With A Disrespectful Child In 2023

5 of the Best Ways to Deal with a Disrespectful Grown Child

Dealing with adult children requires as much tough love as dealing with younger ones. It just looks a bit different if the child in question is old enough to get a job, move out, and pay their own bills.

The following tips will help you put your relationship in perspective.

1. Stop trying to be your kid’s BFF or savior.

What kids expect from their best friends is different from what they expect from their parents.

And while it’s natural to want to save your kids from every disaster they seem determined to dive into, it’s not your job to save your grown-up children from themselves.

You can’t be the eternal buffer between them and the real world.

You’ve taught them all you can up to this point. But you can’t help thinking, “I owe them a better foundation for living in the real world. I haven’t done enough.”

The problem? It will never feel like you’ve done enough.

Every time your adult kid gets ready to do something stupid, you’ll want to stop them and steer them in a better direction.

But sometimes you have to let them find out what happens when they do what they want.

2. Notice disrespect and call it what it is.

When your adult kid is criticizing you, complaining about something, or constantly pestering or arguing with you, ask yourself what you would do if anyone but your own kid treated you that way.

  • Would you recognize the manipulative nature of their words and actions?
  • Would you call it what it is — abusive or disrespectful behavior?
  • And what would you do to correct it?

It’s no surprise that your adult kid wants to be independent.

They want to be allowed to do what they want, even if what they’re doing is self-destructive or harmful to others.

And if they can use your parental mistakes against you to get what they want, they will.

None of this means you don’t have a right to call them out on their disrespectful behavior and spell out the consequences for it.

3. Clarify the real-world consequences of your kid’s behavior.

Here’s where you’ll make it clear what consequences your adult kid will face if they persist with their disrespectful behavior toward you.

Depending on your kid’s level of independence, those consequences might look like the following:

  • Loss of driving privileges (if they rely on your vehicle)
  • Loss of internet privileges (you can block them from the household wifi router)
  • Inability to get to work (if they rely on your driving them to their workplace)
  • Donation of hoarded items taking up too much space in your home

They’ll test you, of course, to see if you’ll keep your word. And if you do, they’ll use everything they’ve got to punish you for it.

But their survival and well-being depend on what they learn from this experience.

4. Get on the same page with your partner.

Make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page regarding how to react to your adult kid’s disrespectful behavior. Have each other’s backs when the kid tries to manipulate you into fighting each other.

Share notes. Get the real facts about what happened and who said what.

Then approach your adult child as a team — modeling the kind of respect you expect from someone claiming to be an adult. It’s not too much to ask.

 Try confronting your kid without the united front, and they’ll probably say something like, “Well, Dad said…. “ or “Well, according to Mom….”

Better to know ahead of time whether those statements are true or not.

5. Be respectful when correcting your child.

You want a relationship based on mutual respect, but your adult kid just isn’t mature enough for that, yet. Still, when you come together to talk about something, you’re far more likely to reach them if your language and tone are calm and respectful.

Because even if they’re prone to drama and quick to respond with emotional outbursts, they want to be treated with respect.

They want you to try to understand where they’re coming from.

Young adults typically have a harder time expressing their thoughts without becoming emotional. You remember how that was, right?

It takes years of conscious effort to learn to balance those emotions with wisdom.

And as condescending as they can be in their approach to you, you won’t get far with them if you demand respect without showing them what that looks like.

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