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When Your Kids Talk Back


angry boy

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 troublesome behavior!







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.