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Controlling Your Emotions and Behavior When Your Child Is Disrespectful

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By John W. Maag, Ph.D.

Combating "I-Can't-Stand-It" and "Condemning and Damning"

If you work first on reducing your demandingness and awfulizing, which are strongly interconnected, you'll have an easier time controlling the other two kinds of irrational responses: The "I-can't-stand-it" and "Condemning and damning." When you say "I can't stand this anymore," you're grossly exaggerating reality and increasing your chances for overreacting. As is the case with many demanding terms such as "must" and "should," saying "I can't stand it" is a fallacy. We are living proof that we have stood everything that has ever happened to us. Death is the only thing we cannot stand.

Finally, if you let the other irrational thinking styles take over, you are more likely to condemn and damn others, yourself, or the world. On the other hand, if you successfully combat the first three thinking styles - demandingness, awfulizing, and I can't stand it - you reduce your tendency to condemn and damn.

When you avoid irrational thinking about a child's behavior, your level of emotional upset automatically decreases, giving you the emotional control to figure out an effective response. As a result, you're less likely to feel hurt and disrespected, and to be overly punitive with your child. A child with challenging behaviors seeks the sense of power and control he gets when he can successfully "push your buttons." Recognizing and combating irrational thinking styles will help you handle any disagreeable behaviors your child throws at you - and reduce the likelihood of the child "getting your goat."