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November 08, 2008


This is a joke, right? I'm supposed to let my daughter yell and scream at me because that feels "safe"? In other words, she is supposed to respect her teachers and other adults she comes into contact with, but not her mom?

I know this is the conventional wisdom, but it is dead wrong. So long as I didn't insist on my daughter speaking respectfully to me, her behavior at home got worse and worse. As soon as I did start demanding respectful interactions, her attitude and her behavior began to improve (slowly, but they did).

Do we want our kids to think that it is okay to speak abusively to those closest to them? What does that mean for their future spouses? In our house, our daughter can "vent" about whatever she wants - we don't deny her feelings. But she cannot do so by yelling, screaming, insulting us, etc. It just makes things worse.

Parents, insist on respect. You won't regret it. They can yell and scream in their rooms until they calm down enough to talk to you.

To point #3, Modelling, I would also add saying sorry. When I behave inappropriately, I say so -- and I don't make excuses. "I'm sorry. I overreacted, and it didn't help matters at all." I will do this with my children, but they also see my husband and I do this with each other, and with other relationships. That's just how adults behave, right? (RIGHT?)

As for the expression of anger...
When my kids were toddlers, I started in with "You may be angry, but you may not scream (hit, spit, kick, whatever)." I have the same expectations of my teens.

*Anger* is allowed. You someone is not going to stop feeling an emotion just because you tell them to. There will likely be some physical expression of intense emotion -- raised voice, tears, pacing. But there is a line that my kids were never allowed to cross, and that was being disrespectful of me.

I got distracted from my first response, which was positive. With that one corollary - you can be angry, but you express it appropriately - I thought this article was bang on. So often our children's intensity draws out a matching intensity in us, and then it's all downhill into chaos!

I also followed the link to Ms. Reese's website. A lot of interesting stuff in there - I will be back for more. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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