Angry, irritated, tone of voice
Q. My ten-year-old daughter speaks with an angry, irritated, tone of voice most of the time.
We have discussed it with her. And she says she does not want to talk to us this way--yet
the habit persists. We feel we talk to her with respect.The things we have tried include,
discussions in family meetings, and having her try it again, i.e., say it again respectfully. Still very
little progress.In fact, it seems to be getting worse. She is an extremely polite, kind spoken, and
sweet child to her friends, other parents, teachers, etc. But with my husband and me and my
seven-year-old son, she is nasty in her tone of voice.Any suggestions please.
A. I have two suggestions: 1)
Decide what you will do instead of what you are going to
get her to do. For example, decide that you will leave
the room every time she talks that way. Be sure to let
her know in advance. This is a case of "less is more" or
of "actions speak louder than words."
2) Give her a nonverbal signal. Every time she
speaks disrespectfully, pat your hand on your heart as a nonverbal signal that says, "I love you." This may sound like a crazy one, but it is
what Rudolf Dreikurs called, "doing the unexpected." You are modeling respect and the "bottom
line" of your relationship instead of getting hooked into her behavior.
Actually, I have one more suggestion. The book "Positive Discipline for Teenagers" is full
of other ideas for dealing with children who are going through the individuation (rebellious)
process. Your daughter is already going into the pre-adolescent stage. Get ready now.
By the way, the fact that she is
well behaved outside the home is a good indication of
what a good job you are doing. You have taught her well
(as indicated by her behavior away from you)--and she
feels safe to experiment with her individuation process
at home. Children who experience too much control,
disapproval, and/or punishment rebel away from home
instead of at home. Count your blessings. :-)