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. :-)