‘Kids don’t have the skills to manage those feelings’ – a psychologist reveals 3 reasons why your kid is being rude, and how parents can break the cycle

Actionable and practical solutions to reduce rudeness and make meaningful impact at home

Portrait of a young boy wearing a red top, with his mouth open as if shouting
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kids are great at pushing buttons and will no doubt cross the line at some point, but it turns out there’s more to their rudeness than just being defiant or answering back.

If your inability to stop yelling at your kid when they’re being rude to you just ends with your leg in the mum guilt trap, let us put your mind at ease. One of the main culprits of the ‘I’m not going to school!’ argument or bedtime battle is most likely down to where they’re at in the child development stages, so with the constant back-and-forth, the behaviour continues and your tolerance gets chipped away.  

The good news is, when we teach kids how to problem solve or express frustration in a healthy way, you can reduce rudeness and make meaningful, lasting change at home. Clinical psychologist and parenting expert Dr Becky Kennedy shares three reasons why your kid is being rude to you and her top tips to stop the cycle.

3 reasons why kids are rude to parents

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1. Disconnection

It turns out that adults crave attention as well as kids, so when we experience a lack of it, we feel disconnected and have a tendency to increase conflict – sound familiar? Dr Becky, who is also a number one New York Times best-selling author for her book Good Inside (£14.99, Amazon), explains: "Disconnection is the same reason why we're rude to adults in our life – we want more positive attention; we want them to listen and understand instead of judge, and so rudeness is a sign that we’re looking to be more connected."

2. Lack of skills

Kids aren't just mini adults – yes, they might be born with a full range of emotions but they lack the skills to effectively manage them. "Kids are rude when they’re disappointed or they’re angry and they don’t yet have the skills to manage those feelings so they explode out as rudeness," says mum-of-three Dr Becky.

Frustrated single mother talking to her rude girl who is ignoring her at home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Children always want their feelings to be heard and believed

Acknowledging your kid's feelings goes a long way, and by demonstrating how they can say their thoughts out loud will help with their emotional development. "All of us will escalate the expression of our feelings if we are met with invalidation or minimisation, so the more you hear out and believe your kid’s feelings the less often they’ll be rude," concludes Dr Becky.

So, the next time you're about to react to your child being rude, Dr Becky's parenting truth could help: "Before we intervene, we have to understand."

For more parenting tips, find out how to respond when your child says I hate you and discover 3 reasons why punishments don’t improve kids’ behaviour.

Daniella Gray
Family News & Wellbeing Writer

From building healthy family relationships to self-care tips for mums and parenting trends - Daniella also covers postnatal workouts and exercises for kids. After gaining a Print Journalism BA Hons degree and NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella started writing for Health & Wellbeing and co-hosted the Walk to Wellbeing podcast. She has also written for Stylist, Natural Health, The Sun UK and Fit & Well. In her free time, Daniella loves to travel, try out new fitness classes and cook for family and friends.