Step Set a Stern Consequence If Fresh Attitude Continues

If you've been clear with your expectations and the fresh attitude and gestures still continue, it's time to set a consequence. Whenever your kid does display that attitude, call it on the spot by briefly describing what she did that was disrespectful—for example,"I've explained before that you may not talk to me in that tone of voice. Since you can't talk respectfully to your family, you may not use your cell or any other phone for the next twenty-four hours. Put it in the drawer, please."

There should be no discussion: just calmly state the consequence, then enforce it and don't back down. He needs to know that his attitude will not be tolerated. Here are a few other consequences for different ages that address fresh, flippant attitudes:

• Time-out away from activities. Younger kids who talk back and sass can be removed from the room until they can talk respectfully: "Lydia, that was sassing. Go to time-out for five minutes." Make sure the area is one where she may not receive attention. The simplest rule for determining the time length is one minute for each year of the child's age (five years equals five minutes, ten years equals ten minutes, and so on). Some parents call the location the thinking chair or cool-down corner.

• Apologizing. Comments delivered by fresh kids are rude but also hurtful, so make them accountable for their actions. Although they can't take back their spiteful words, they can at least ease the pain by apologizing. Even a four year old can say,"I'm sorry."

• "Fresh jar." Establish a "fresh jar"—any jar with a lid that's set aside just for fresh, flippant attitudes. Clearly define what the bad attitude is, and set a fine. For kids short on money, make and post a list of chores that can be done to work off the fine. Each time the child swears, he is fined and must put the set amount of money in the jar.When the jar is filled, donate the money to a charity of your choice.

• Removal from family. Older children who are fresh to you or any other family member could lose the privilege of being in the room where you gather most regularly as a family (usually for a few hours or the rest of the day, depending on the crime). If the bad attitude continues, you could establish a stricter criterion:"If you can't treat your family respectfully, then you may not see your friends."

• Loss of a privilege. Any child who uses flippant, fresh language on the telephone, including failing to answer the phone in a courteous manner, loses phone privileges for a set period.

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