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How To Not Raise an Obnoxious, Rude Kid

Lori Freson


Most of us agree that children and teens these days are more obnoxious, bratty, spoiled, and entitled than ever before. Take one look at social media and you will see hundreds of comments about how disrespectful our children have become. If you Google the words “kids disrespectful”, thousands of articles and images come up confirming this long held belief that this generation of children is like no other.

But what if we’re all wrong? What if we are all making a big deal out of nothing? Are kids these days really that much worse than we were? Didn’t our grandparents think the same of our parents? What about the generations before that? Here’s an interesting quote I found while perusing the Internet. “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” Guess what? This was Socrates who lived 470 BCE to 399 BCE.

How can it be that parents felt the same way about kids thousands of years ago as we do today? Maybe, just maybe, it is normal. Call me crazy, but I actually take comfort in knowing that parents have faced the same struggles and dilemmas for thousands of years. Maybe we’re not such failures as parents after all. Maybe it’s really just part of being a kid to be disrespectful. Maybe all kids feel entitled and have bad manners. Is this part of their development? Something they need to go through to figure out who they are and how to be a successful adult? Perhaps we’ve just become too nit-picky as parents that we just care more about everything little thing our kids do? Perhaps we’ve gone too far and just have really unrealistic expectations of how kids should behave. Of course, no one really knows the answers to all of these questions, but it’s certainly worth pondering.

Here is what we do know. Nobody wants an obnoxious kid. Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure that yours isn’t.

  1. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. From the earliest age, children need to know that they cannot just do whatever they want. And they need you to set the guidelines and the boundaries. It’s not always easy, but it’s your job. Did you think parenting was supposed to be easy? It’s not, but you signed up for it, so do it well.
  2. Be a parent, not a friend. Your kids need friends, but it’s not supposed to be you. You need to be the authority figure, and don’t worry so much about upsetting your child or making sure they like you. Sometimes they won’t. Deal with it.
  3. Don’t over indulge your child. Don’t but them a Mercedes when they turn 16. Sometimes, make them save their own money to buy something they want. I’m all in favor of giving them nice things and going to nice places, but not all the time and not just because they want it. Make those moments the exception, not the rule, and make them special. A nice gift and/or meal for a birthday or holiday can be appropriate. But if it’s Mercedes, new iPhones and filet mignon all the time, your kids will be in for a rude awakening when they leave home and actually can’t have all of that whenever they want.
  4. Do not allow your child to be disrespectful to you or others. That means you call them out on it every single time, and have consequences for them doing so. Do not ignore this behavior or you are telling your child that it is acceptable, which it is not. Lying, talking back, rolling eyes, and breaking rules are all forms of disrespect.
  5. Make sure your child understands the difference between needs/rights and privileges. There are very few actual needs. Don’t be afraid to take away privileges when they haven’t been earned.
  6. Be consistent. Remind yourself that all of this will pass, and your job is to teach and guide your child into adulthood.

Most importantly, don’t dwell on the bad behavior. Do what you need to do, and then move on. Remind yourself that this is what children do, and it’s what they’ve done for thousands of years. It probably won’t change any time soon, so just hang in there. If you do this right, one day, your child will be all grown up and a light bulb will go off. He will remember everything you taught him, and be a respectful, productive and respectful adult.

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Lori Freson

Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.