Quell the snotties with a back-to-basics discipline primer.

How to Deal With Rude & Snotty Kids

by Kathryn Hatter

If the rude and snotty behavior from your kids is reaching epic proportions, it may be time to lay down the law. Toddlers and preschoolers often learn and develop rude behaviors from lack of parental guidance and limits. In short, your kids just haven’t learned the proper way to interact with others. It’s not too late to deal with rudeness and you’ll be doing your kids a huge favor by teaching them appropriate ways to connect.

Insist that your kids say “please” when asking for something, “thank you” when they get it and “excuse me” when necessary. Check your own interactions as well to make sure you’re setting a good example and saying the magic words yourself.

Teach your kids not to demand, whine and complain when they’re unhappy by turning a deaf ear to it. You might say, "What's that? Oh, sorry! I can't hear a word you say when you whine. Try again without whining and I bet I'll hear you." Whining is a learned response when a child is unhappy or thinks something isn’t going right. Instead of getting snotty and whiny, suggest alternatives like talking about what’s going on without that annoying “tone.”

Give your child your focused attention to reward constructive talking about issues, but only when she doesn’t whine. Stop what you’re doing and really listen to hear what she’s saying. You may not always be able to solve or resolve an issue, but by listening, you show you care.

Coach productive communication for your toddler or preschooler to use when he’s upset. Dr. Ruth Peters, clinical psychologist, suggests that people start with an “I message” when talking about something that bothers or annoys. Teach your kid to talk about an annoyance by saying something like, “I feel mad when you take my doll. Can I have it back please?” This technique will effectively lead your child away from meltdowns, yelling and lashing out at others in a rude way.

Praise polite behavior when you see it. Get really excited when you hear your preschooler say “please” and “thank you.” When you notice these behaviors and make a big deal out of them, you encourage her to give you repeat performances because she wants to please you.


  • If your kid is melting and you can’t bring behavior under control, it might be time for a timeout. Preschoolers get hard to deal with when they’re tired, hungry or sick. Separate your child from an upsetting situation and help him feel better so he can behave more politely.


  • Stay dedicated to reinforcing and insisting on polite behavior. Although it will take effort to instill polite habits, after the initial work of creating the habit, your kids should start behaving more politely and less like barbarians.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

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