Tips on Parenting: Dealing with Back Talk

back talk

Summer is fast approaching which means schools close their doors and you get to spend a lot more time with your children! Of course this is a wonderful thing but it can certainly present some  challenges as you spend more time then usual together.

Is back talk a challenge in your home?  Do you deal with eye rolls or rude comments?  In early childhood kids start testing the limits trying to determine what they can and cannot get away with.  Children certainly need to learn skills to be assertive but you can help teach them do this in a more respectful manner.

Here are some creative suggestions to curb the back talk:

Preschool Age- at this age you may experience more non-verbal modes of back talk.  Or you may be dealing with a whole lot of whining and a mastery of the word “No!”

  • Play a game with it- tell your child their feet are glued to the floor and they cannot move until they repeat what they just said in a more polite manner.  This method avoids punishment and reinforces good behavior.
  • Are they pushing for independence? This is another development for this age so be mindful if they are trying to grow in this way.  Give them limited choices for example if snacks are a struggle give them two options to chose from that way they feel like they have more of a say.

School Age- as your child approach kindergarten and first grade they are trying to figure out who they are and start mimic those around them (parents, friends, tv characters).

  • Journal exercise- Let your child calm down if they are worked up.  Then ask them to write out what they can do differently next time.
  • Talk about it- kids can start to engage in dialogue better with you now.  When they are calm talk about their choice with them.  Ask them to explain what happened and strategize better ways for coping together.
  • Consequences- take this route last, if all other options have failed!

Tweens– at this age they certainly know how to push your buttons so look out, back talk can get a little nastier.

  • Time out- come up with a time out ‘signal’ that you both know about.  Use this when things get heated.  It gives you both permission to walk away before things get out of hand.  Remember, you always want to come back together when everyone has cooled off to talk about what happened.
  • Teach respect-Simply teach them how to say things in a nicer way, even if it is something about you they don’t like.  Trust me, it will happen!
  • Approach consequences together- together create a list of consequences that progressively get harsher.  It is important to have your child participate in this.  You then administer the consequences they came up with when back talk occurs.

This is an introduction to the many parenting tips that are available to you.  Do not hesitate to contact us and meet with one of our therapists to learn more about parenting!

*Adapted from “How to Put a Stop to Back Talk” by Shaun Dreisbach.