The S.T.U.C.K. Method

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being

STUCK on “Your Kid’s Got an Attitude!”

6 Comments

I was at a community event recently when I witnessed a teenager acting quite disrespectfully to another adult (who happened to have been a friend of mine).

bad attitude

I was struck dumb by this teenager’s audacity and impertinence.

How could such a child in our community speak back to an authoritative figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community deliberately roll her eyes and scoff at an adult figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community have such confidence to believe that he can even act this way in the first place?

I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

And, as I stood there incredulously, I found myself being stuck on “your kid’s got an attitude, and I’ve gotta do something about it.”

I didn’t “S” stop and pause and breathe.

I didn’t “T” tell myself what I was feeling.

I didn’t “U” see what may have been underneath this all.

And, I certainly didn’t “C” consider a different perspective.

I just reacted.

Automatically.

And, I got myself involved in something to which I wasn’t even invited.

I went straight up to that teenager and told him what I had just witnessed.

And that I saw him speaking to that adult in that way.

And that he had no right to speak that way to any community member.

In other words, I put him in his place.

And his reaction?

After a little huffing and puffing and rolling of the eyes, he just walked away.

And, in that moment, I felt really good actually.

I felt like I did a good deed.

The right thing.

That any other responsible parent would have done.

But later that day, when I finally did take a moment to pause…

And speak to my own child (who was there at the scene),

I found myself regretting my behavior.

That I didn’t just stop and pause at the time.

And recognize what I was feeling (frustration).

And acknowledge that probably what was underneath all of this was the struggle of living in a small community where there are some parenting styles which I don’t endorse (which of course leads to children’s behaviors which I don’t endorse).

And consider another perspective, such as:

  • Maybe this child actually has a real problem
  • Maybe his parents are dealing with this said problem
  • Maybe the response by the adult at the scene was enough
  • Maybe you don’t have to get involved in everything that you see
  • Maybe you don’t know everything

But, that was the past.

And, this is the present.

And, while I wish I had stayed in the framework of “S.T.U.C.K.” and avoided that confrontation, I can only be compassionate to myself and remember that it’s o”K” that I got stuck there in the first place.

And now that I’m in a different mindset, can consider whether or not the right thing to do at this point is make an apology.

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Author: Shira Taylor Gura

Well-Being Coach, Podcast Host, Author of the award winning book, Getting unSTUCK: 5 Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being.

6 thoughts on “STUCK on “Your Kid’s Got an Attitude!”

  1. Shira, I am reactive also, but learned that you are right… There may be other circumstances beyond what you witnessed they may have caused that child to behave the way they did. I’ve learned that medications, inherited or not diseases, and other outside fractures sometimes cause this. I believe that children are happy, self respective, trying to please people unless something else gets in there way ( not always asked for).

    • Thanks, Mar. Yes, I think children are generally as you described… Not sure about teenagers though. 🙂

  2. Hi Shira – I don’t know if you realize that I am following your blog but it’s really interesting. In this particular instance, I appreciate that you cared enough about the child to want to give some feedback beyond what the child experienced in the moment. If you now feel that you wish you didn’t engage, and it feels like you should apologize for the confrontation, what about talking to the child’s parents and learning more about their perspective? Ask how they would want you to behave if the same situation happened again? Perhaps that will bring you the peace you are looking for? It sounds like you have good instincts and are continually improving and reflecting – all good things. Hope that’s helpful – yom tov 🙂

    • Thanks, Elisheva. Your point is well taken. I am totally going to do that. I actually considered approaching the parents (initially) to say how disappointed and frustrated I was in their child. But, you helped to realize a different approach. Thanks again!

  3. Shira, I think you did what her parents should have done if they had been there. It must have been an embarrassment to the child, but if the child was not told how crude he or she was, how is he or she going to learn what was done is not acceptable and that the child should show respect to adults. I think you did a good deed. One day the child may want to thank you for teaching him or her to learn to respect. My love, Mom-Mom

  4. Maybe, Mom-Mom. Though, I’m not 100% sure she’d thank me one day, or just remember for her entire life how I embarrassed her on that day. What I am learning, more and more often from this practice, is the importance of just pausing before reacting. Thanks for responding!

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