Back talk can be one of the most frustrating behaviors for parents. It's hard to
keep cool and clear headed when kids are being disrespectful. The angrier we
become, the more backtalk our kids dish out. You can control this vicious cycle
if you follow some of our tips below. Don't despair. Taming back talk takes
practice, but if you stay calm and consistent, you can get a hold of this
First and foremost, don't overreact to your
child's disrespectful ramblings. Stay calm and even tempered. The more we
escalate as parents, the more our children escalate. We want to avoid an
angry shouting match so if necessary, take a short time out from your child
if you find yourself becoming too angry. Then, address the back talk when you
feel calmer. Or, tell your child to take a short time out and let him know
that you will discuss the disrespectful talk when he is less angry.
Next, be a good role model. We can't expect
our children to speak to us respectfully if they hear us speaking
disrespectfully to our spouse, coworker, or another family member. Our kids
will model our behavior. Keep this important point in mind when
communicating with others.
Have a consequence set up for back talk. Give
your child a warning and a chance to change her behavior. If she chooses to
continue back talking, consequence her appropriately. Younger kids respond
well to time outs. Older kids often respond to a decrease in a privileges
such as less computer/TV time or losing a chance to go out with friends.
Behavior charts work well for rewarding positive behavior. Set up a behavior
chart reward if your child refrains from back talk for a certain number of
days. See our printable behavior charts for older kids and younger kids.
Use "I" statements to let your child know how
his backtalk makes you feel. You might say, "When you speak in a
disrespectful tone, I feel hurt and frustrated. "I" statements help us to
stay calm and communicate clearly. In addition, we are modeling positive
communication skills to our kids. The book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen
and Listen So Kids Will Talk is an excellent resource for learning "I"
statements. Many times, if we stay calm and let our kids know how we feel,
they will calm down too. Backtalk is angry, impulsive behavior. When we calm
down and give our kids a chance to think about what they have said, they
will often feel truly remorseful.
Remember, if you stay calm, communicate
clearly, and have clear consequences set up, you should be able to keep a
firm handle on back talk in your home!