Dealing with a kid who talks back

Parents handle a lot of child discipline issues, but one that stands out amongst them all is that of putting up with a child who talks back to them. Back talk can happen at just about any age, and may even begin as early as when children first begins to talk – the moment your child learns how to say his first “NO!”.

If truth be told, there are many different causes of back talk. It could be your child’s means of testing his boundaries and may even be triggered because he feels a bit on the grouchy end. Your kid may even start talking back because he wants to have more control over his life so he can choose what to do, what to wear and even eat etc. No matter the reason, back talk is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed as effectively and immediately as possible. As a parent, it is necessary for you to teach your child how to express his opinions and wishes in a constructive and respectful manner.

7 Don’t respond to him when he talks back particularly when you’ve set the limits

There are many parents out there who react to back talk even after they have won the argument. Why do they do it? I think it’s because they believe it is their job to respond to their children so as to train, teach and set limits on them. As their child continues to re-explain things after hearing a “NO”, the parents start talking back in order to re-explain things to the kid. Apparently, what the parents have in mind is, “If you truly understood what I was saying, you would just accept my answer instead of talking back to me”. Well let’s be honest – that really isn’t the most rational of mindsets, right? What it does is get parents into prolonged arguments, which they seriously don’t need to engage in.

At times parents see backtalk as a bit of a challenge to their authority. What they don’t understand is that as long as they accomplish their objective, there is nothing in the world that can impact their authority. Instead of going back and forth with arguments with your child, just stop. If your kid wants to pursue the conversation, ignore him. As long as you’ve given a reasonable explanation for a rule, your job is done.

Stop right there

You need to stop arguing with your child as soon as you give him a reasonable explanation. With it, you’ve won the fight and there is no need for you to go on and on with it. If you try to convince your child with arguments, he will continue to challenge you by talking back.

6 Stay composed

When your child starts mouthing off, don’t overreact to his statements or get into a power struggle with him because of the words he’s just spoken or his tone. Also, you should never answer in kind because in order to teach your kid to talk respectfully, it is necessary for you to do the same. To set him right, say something like, “I think there’s a better way to say that”. If you give him a knee-jerk response like, “Stop being a brat”, you will set a very bad example and may even add to his frustration.

When your child starts verbally lashing out at you, it is necessary for you to tell him that you care a lot about his feelings even if you don’t approve of the way he is expressing them. A major mistake that parents make is that they skip this step and instead start disciplining or scolding their child. It is necessary for you to tell your child just how much you love him and that you understand his aggression and frustration.

Focus on his message

If you make your child feel as if you don’t understand what he wants, there is a good chance that he may amp up his reaction to prove to you just how upset he is. For this reason, it is vital for you to acknowledge his emotions so that you can be removed from the adversarial role. To make things work, just focus on the message that he trying to convey by overlooking his tone. Talk about the situation as calmly as possible and make compromises wherever possible.

5 Draw the line

As a parent, it is necessary for you to correct egregious behavior, but any minor irritating comments need to be ignored at all times. Yes, I know how hard it would be for you, but you need to bear in mind the fact that kids at times talk back because they want their parents’ attention. As long as you give your kid the attention he wants, there is a good chance that his bad behavior will come to an end.

Sassing or talking back is a totally unacceptable action and this is something that you have to make clear to your kid. If the behavior continues, there need to be consequences too. The consequences can be anything from limiting favorite activities to even giving him a time-out. Your child needs to understand that if he wants you to treat him with respect, he needs to show a bit of respect, love and care towards you too to deserve it. However, your kid may at times want a bit of personal power and it is recommended for you to let him enjoy that power to a certain extent every now and then.

Don’t turn things into a power struggle

Instead of placing restrictions over everything, give your kid a bit of personal power every now and then. For instance, let him decide what he wants to wear every other day. If truth be told, a few small concessions of power can go a long way in terms of saving you from regular power struggles with your little one. So every other day, let him decide what he wants to wear and what he wants to eat to maintain a bit of peace and quiet around your place.

4 Don’t take it

You will get rudeness if you accept it, which is why you shouldn’t take it in the first place. A majority of parents just shrug things off when their kids start being rude. They say things like, “He’s just a kid”, but this isn’t the appropriate way for a kid to act. Because parents keep accepting their behavior and dismiss it, kids keep behaving bad with them. Parents who put their foot down and refuse to tolerate rude behavior and backtalk tend to have children who aren’t rude. When their kids make a comment that they believe is unacceptable, they call their kids on it right away. They tell them when something they say is not OK and then ask for an apology after correcting their language.

The one thing that you need to bear in mind is that no matter how well-behaved your child is in general, putting an end to his snark remarks is going to require a bit of an ongoing effort. What you need to do is decide what’s most important to you and then tell your kids about the house rules. When the rules get broken, react appropriately and tell them where they went wrong.

Don’t have further discussions

If your child misbehaves or talks back, you must not offer him a second chance – there shouldn’t be negotiations. Here, you honestly need to avoid using the word ‘if’ (“If you do that again, I will…..”) because it is going to make you sound weak – you need to sound decisive if you truly want your child to pick up on it.

3 Do you have a plan?

When things are good, you should sit down with your child and discuss some basic house rules with him. The reason why these discussions should be held is because these are critical to good communication and may even get your child to cooperate with you in the long run. The best part is that when you set ground rules and your child follows them, you are going to feel like a wonderful parent. Instead of trying to achieve your child’s acceptance, you will then be able to focus on following the ground rules.

One of the first rules that you should set is, “I will explain something only once and I will not talk to you anymore after that. If you start arguing, I will walk away. If you continue arguing or start following me, there will be consequences for you”. This way, you will be able to set limits on backtalk without giving it any power whatsoever. Also, you could allot a time of day in which your child can say whatever he wants to you. For instance, you can set a time to re-explain all the house rules to him, listen to any and all questions that he may have, answer them and settle a time for the discussion to be over.

Don’t let your kid get his way

If your child exhibits disappointment, there is no need at all for you to get upset about it because if you do, there is a good chance that he will use backtalk once again to get his way. As a parent, you need to know that your kid will not always be happy with your decisions. Just set the rules and enforce them for the sake of your child’s development.

2 Offer choices to your kid

Giving your child a bit of control over the course of his day will go a long way in making him feel valued. The best part is that he will be less likely to feel the need to assert himself in ways that are outright inappropriate. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to give him plenty of appropriate opportunities to make choices for himself. Say something like, “Would you rather go to the library or the park this afternoon?”

Here, what you need to make sure is that you offer acceptable choices and when he makes one, respect it.For instance, don’t give your child a choice between fresh fruits and ice cream for dessert if you just want him to eat the fruits. Also, if your child becomes overly nasty, refrain from negotiating, compromising or even discussing his opinion with him. If you do any of this, it is just going to reinforce his behavior. Apart from that, if you are faced with back talk in public, there is no reason at all for you to get intimidated into being a pushover. Just let your child know that he is being nasty and such behavior in public is just not acceptable.

Other considerations

If you are in public when your child starts misbehaving, it is highly recommended for you to take him to a quiet spot and tell him that if he doesn’t stop behaving this way, he will have to face consequences. The consequences can be anything from canceling an upcoming sleepover to missing his favorite TV show.  

1 Set a code

Having a prearranged signal will make it possible for your child to know that he is nearing the disrespectful zone as you will show him the red flag. This way, you will give him a clear warning that you will follow through with more drastic action is he doesn’t stop what he is doing. In a public setting, he will be able to save face in front of his friends and he will probably become more compliant too. You can use things like a catchphrase that you an utter the moment you think your child is behaving inappropriately.

For many parents with kids that talk back to them, the basic knee-jerk response to an inadequate comment is to toss one back at the offending child so they may see how bad it hurts and feels. If anything, this isn’t the best move because it goes on to condone the behavior. What you instead need to do is bite your tongue, refuse to engage with your child on that level and just stay as calm as possible. With comebacks, you may just hurt your child and it may even go on to escalate the conflict. So keep sarcasm at bay and model the perfect response so your child can learn from it too.

When things get rough

If you’re finding it hard to control your temper, let everyone calm down first and then call a family meeting to discuss things. To ensure that your child doesn’t get defensive, just tune him out and use ‘I’ statements. So if you want to make your child feel your pain, instead of saying, “You’re rude”, say, “I haven’t been standing up for my self-respect by letting you talk down to me”.

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