Calm/Assertive Procedures like this one give kids two choices and two choices only. Kids can either:
1. Be cooperative
2. Suffer the consequences of not being cooperative
Either way, we can be calm and empathetic because we do not allow this third option to exist:
3. Do whatever you want, develop bad behaviors, and become a person people don’t want to be around
The possibility of allowing choice C is what makes us angry, excitable, and sometimes irate because we love our kids and we know where kids who get to use choice C often end up.
Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedures like this one take into account all possible ways that kids will try to get to choice C. We stop those channels to C and reroute back to either choice A or B. We do this all without ever trying to control that which we cannot control.
Here We Go…
How often do kids experiment with seeing how rude they can be to their parents? Some level of Kid Experimentation with unkind words to their parent(s) is common, if not inevitable. The key to making rude words not work for kids is to quickly use a simple intervention. If that does not change the behavior, the below consequence will be necessary.
What Not to Do
Never deviate from the script described in Intervention #1. NEVER. In fact, the interventions are so simple, and so effective that you should never deviate from them. Any deviation will make it more complicated than it has to be.
Also, do not accept any way of speaking to you that is not perfectly polite, according to your personal standards and value structure.
What to Do: Setting the Limit
Apologize to your kid for any anger, lectures, or threats that you have used when dealing with this issue in the past. Let him know that you won’t use any of these hurtful tools anymore. Also let him know that you will be taking better care of yourself from now on and that you will only be talking to him when he uses kind words. Keep in mind- there is no possible way that this alone will stop him from using rude words.
What to Do: Intervention #1
As soon as he inevitably uses words that are not PERFECTLY polite, say the following:
“I talk to people who use kind words.”
Say this ONE TIME PER LIFETIME PER KID. Don’t ever repeat this. If he then speaks with kind words and continues to do so, you’re done. If not, or if he shapes up but then goes back to being rude, simply ask the following question:
“Who do I talk to?”
From then on, this question is the only thing you are allowed to say until you just can’t stand the sound of your kid’s obnoxious voice and have to move on to Intervention #2. Repeat this as much as you would like, but NEVER deviate from it!
What to Do: Intervention #2
If you just can’t deal with the obnoxious language from your kid, and you are tired of asking your one question, say the following:
“Oh, drat. I am going to go to my room, lock the door, and read my book. It’s more pleasant in there. I will have to do something about the way you are speaking to me sometime in the future. Don’t let that ruin your day, though.”
What to Do: The Consequence
Later, let your child know, with sadness and empathy, that he is currently struggling with using kind words. Let him know that you love him too much than to let him go through life thinking that he will be able to be happy and successful if he continues to use rude words. Let him know that you will take your time and energy to train him to use kind words instead of rude words.
Let him know that from now on, he will only leave the house to go to school. This includes any sports, activities, dates, etc. While at home, a significant of time will need to be in your presence, practicing not using unkind words. This can simply be spent not being rude. Just being quiet can qualify. If you would like to add having pleasant conversations as part of these practice sessions, simply initiate these conversations. Your kid refusing to practice the pleasant conversations is a sign that he still needs more practice, and you can let him know that at the moment of the refusal. The same goes for any rude talk. Any rude talk or actions during this consequence should be met with the following words EVERY TIME:
“Oh, drat. Looks like more practice is necessary.”
The longer your kid continues to be rude, the better. With these actions, he is saying the following to you:
“I need more practice in order to be successful in life. Train me.”
“Oh, drat” is merely a place holder. You can substitute any word or sound that you wish to show calm sadness. Don’t leave this out though (it may stop you from saying or doing something that you regret).
Do what you need to do to keep your kid and house safe. If you have a kid who is small enough to carry, you can have him go to his room instead of you going to your room. His room should have no technology in it and be “tantrum-proof”- it needs to be totally safe no matter what kind of tantrum-oriented behaviors your kid uses.
If your kid is bigger, and you are worried about him tearing up the house, have a “Replacement Parent” on call. If you have a belligerent kid, make the call, have them come over, and leave and go get dinner, go to the salon, or do some kind of self-care ritual. Ask the Replacement Parent to act in a minimally engaged way with your kid, while still monitoring and ignoring him. The trick here is that your kid isn’t angry at the other adult. He is angry at you. Chances are, the other adult coming over and replacing you will curb the tantrum. As always, if a kid is so belligerent that he is dangerous, a call to your local police station may be necessary.