A: I can collectively feel everyone’s left eyebrow go up when they read: “Where’s my dinner?!” Most parents who have parented a 6-year-old have encountered some of this sass. And, like you, most parents have sat there with this dilemma: On one hand, we understand that the child is hangry (hungry and angry) and is also facing the transition of in-person school after months of being at home; on the other hand, her bossy commands are not a communication trend that you welcome (i.e., this level of disrespect really makes parents mad).
Your primary question is excellent: Is there “general advice about how parents should talk and respond to young kids when they communicate in such a rude way?” Here’s some general advice: We parents talk way too much, and that, sadly, is the crux of many of our problems. Although peaceful and loving communication is almost always a good idea, there is a parenting tenet that should be kept in mind: Whatever you pay attention to grows. This means that, even if you are using positive parenting skills, all that “feelings” talk in the moment can grow the very problem you are trying to stop.
It goes like this: Gertrude stomps in and rudely requests dinner. You are annoyed/frustrated/angry/livid and say: “When you speak to me like that, I feel . . .” Gertrude’s brain lights up with the attention and, because she is hangry, she doesn’t care about your feelings, which leads her to double-down on the rudeness. This isn’t conscious; she is at the beginning of a meltdown. You feel more challenged, which leads to more talking, which leads to more rudeness, which leads to: “Get out of the kitchen or you will never eat again, Gertrude!”
Here are some other ideas that don’t require talking: Zoom out to see how often this is happening and when. If it’s always associated with hunger, she may need more or different types of food (more protein, good carbs) right after school. It’s okay if this ruins a bit of dinner; regulating her blood sugar is more important.