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Respectful, authentic relationships.
When you should NEVER take the cellphone from your child.
It’s very upsetting, right, when your child/teen doesn’t speak respectfully to you and continues to do so after you expressed your disconcert/disagreement. As a response to unwanted behavior and feeling powerless and angry you probably have learned to take the phone away, saying: “If you cannot treat me with respect, you cannot have your phone. When you change your behavior and treat me with respect, you might get it back.” Guess what, a few hours later the behavior changed. You got what you wanted, more polite behavior. Polite yes, but that is NOT the same as intrinsic felt respect.
The love for the cellphone made him choose different behavior, not the love for you. The opposite is true: instead of feeling genuinely respected you alienate more from each other. If your child treats you politely out of fear for what can happen, that is hopefully not the relationship you want. If your partner is angry, and doesn’t talk to you in the way you like, do you take his cellphone away? No. How do you respond then?
If there is behavior from children what we interpret as “disrespectful” then there is a valuable moment of teaching and connection. Don’t you want to know WHY he behaves like that? WHAT causes his anger or nasty behavior?
There are a million reasons that could be the cause of that behavior. Don’t you want to know what’s going on in your child instead of only cutting them off? You could ask what is bothering them. You could say: “Hey I hear you are angry or upset, what’s going on?” You could listen compassionately. You could mirror the situation and explain how he would feel if you treat him this or that way. Being frustrated or angry, most of us tend to react to the people who are the nearest to us. Though, parents are often very sensitive for “disrespectful” behavior. The question arises: How do you teach respect as a parent? Do you live it? Are you respectful to the environment, others, not cursing at them, not judging, not gossiping?
If we only punish a child for behavior and don’t look for the cause and don’t look within ourselves we are creating superficial, polite relationships. Fear for punishment may never be the reason for kind, respectful behavior. It is a natural state, to be kind and loving, because that’s the primary bond between parents and children. A child that freaks out easily, who has a hard time to express anger in a normal way, needs to learn how to handle frustration. But always first we need to know the cause. That’s authentic connecting. The best way and first step is opening up and talk about it. Do not let your ego come in between you and your child by convincing yourself you are right and he is wrong. That’s not the entire story.
Respect comes from the heart, and should not be confused with politeness. Respect is a way of living, and is not created by force of punishment, by taking the cellphone, laptop or clothes away.