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Dealing With Your Child's Bad Attitude

How To Deal With Your Child's Bad Attitude

If your child's behavior is within acceptable limits, but her attitude is sulky, negative, or outright rebellious, welcome to the club. Pre-teens and teens often express their need for independence and self-sufficiency by sighing or slouching through the day.

Attitude is a slippery thing to get a handle on, but if you're hearing "You can't tell me what to do," more than you'd like, it's time to set limits. Pre-teens and teens tend to act as if "having attitude" is something to be proud of, and it's your job to set the record straight.

The key, say experts, is respect. Tell your child you expect to be spoken to respectfully, and set consequences for speech and behavior that's disrespectful. (Of course, respect is a two-way street, and you'll get better results if you model respectful behavior toward your child as well.)

Don't be fearful about coming across as too hard-line, says Madeline Levine, a child psychologist and author of "The Price of Privilege." Parenting is 50 percent warmth and 50 percent discipline, and today's parents, she says, tend to err on the side of too much warmth.

"The fact that you won't tolerate eye rolling or door slamming doesn't mean you don't have a good relationship," Levine says.

In fact, refusing to tolerate bad attitude will pay off for the whole family by making your home a safe sanctuary from the disrespect and conflict your child probably experiences at school.

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