10 ways to deal with back talking
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Nov 27, 2021
Facing “back answering” from a child is something all parents have to deal with at some point of time. It is painful, it shocks, embarrasses, and can turn your home into a battleground. We are on the receiving end when we tell our child it’s time to switch off the TV, and when we lay down rules he doesn’t like and dealing with a back talking child can be exhausting!
Why it Happens?
The reasons are varied. The child could be hungry, tired, or in a transitional period. Another major reason which propels a child to reply back is a continued sense of powerlessness. When they are told a “no” they feel something’s been taken from them. They often feel compelled to back talk to hold on to it.
This kind of behaviour isn't always a true expression of your child's feelings, and the reason might be rooted in something completely unrelated to you. Thus, figuring out the reason behind the snappy comeback can make it a lot easier for parents to understand and resolve the issue.
Back Talk at Different Ages
Common back talk by a toddler: “No” ; “Why?”
Your response: A back talking toddler is a sign that he is growing and understanding his own identity. Toddlers are at the brink of learning to assert themselves. If they observe you get irritated with this behavior, they tend to do it more. Also, rather than you saying a flat ‘no’ to the child, explain to him the desired behaviour. For eg: Instead of “No more watching TV now”, try, “You finish your lunch first and then we can discuss if you want to watch more TV”. So, keeping calm helps. Remember, children model behaviour they encounter regularly.
Common back-talk: "You never seem to understand!" ; "It's just not fair to not listen!”
Your Response: Children at this age are very conscious about what others think of them. The child here requires empathy more than anything else.
It helps if we are visionary enough to keep on top of the child’s "It's not fairs!” A child at this age also tests limits to see what he can get away with. But, we also need to dwell on the thought that often when a child talks back, what he's really expressing is anger, frustration, fear, or hurt and that grade-schoolers don't always share everything that happens at school. It could be that your child is being bullied or having trouble adjusting to a new teacher. Have a friendly relationship with him at this point so that he feels comfortable sharing his fears and feelings with you.
Common back talk: "What's the big deal if I stay up late?"
Your Response: Instead of taking responsibility, children at this age often put the blame on the parents. For example your daughter borrowed a pen that had a sentimental value and broke it. Your reaction would be, "How could you be so irresponsible!" Be on guard-- she'll most likely turn around and say: "Oh! as if you've never ever broken anything at all?” So here, a better response from your side would be to explain that we all need to take responsibility of our act and rectify our mistakes.
Common back talk: “Just Leave me alone!" ; "It's all your fault that you never seem to understand me !” ; “You will not understand!”
Your Response:The logical mind in teenagers is still not developed so they are not completely rational. Be a good listener.Make them feel you are on their side. If they say they want to be left alone, let them be. Be polite and affectionate. Writing a note without attacking might help here.
Ways to deal with Back-Talk at any age:
Let the child know what is and what is not acceptable. Some home rules to be clearly stated are:
1. Set Limits:
Remember, you are the authority in your house. Be firm in letting your child know what behaviors are off-limits. "It sure is disrespectful when I talk to you and you look the other way. Please don't do that.”
By a bit of understanding, self-control and keeping cool, parents can put a lid on talking back and reverse the habit.
2. Keep your calm:
Don't overreact to your child's verbal aggression or get into a power struggle over words and tone. Yelling, threatening, screaming and showing your authority as a parent does not help. "How dare you do that ? I'm elder to you!" will only aggravate the situation. Putting up a statement like, “I am sure you can think of a better way to say that” or “ I think you can say this in a calmer manner,” might help the child calm down. We need to make them feel that we care about their feelings, even if we don't approve of their way of expressing them.
3. Be a coach and help your child practice problem-solving skills:
When your child is not upset, is the time to help him try out ways to solve his problems. Questions like, “How do you think you can convey this in a better manner?”; “What makes you feel I am not on your side?” ;“What would help you feel that I am there to listen to you?”. Open communication helps the child get the confidence to share his feelings and thus come up with his own solutions.
4. Time outs and Rewards:
Timeouts work well with children younger than 7 or 8 years. For older children, you want to move to a system of positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviour—awards in the form of points or tokens towards something he wants. And, also after discussing the inappropriate behaviours and phrases, let your child know the consequences, if he /she crosses the line, and those could be losing certain privileges. Being consistent and sticking to the rules is the only way to show you mean business.
5. Recording the conversations:
Sometimes the best thing is to record and listen to your child’s use of words and the tone as well as yours, later. Sometimes we as parents might not realize that we made mistakes too by using the same dis-respectful tone, which is probably how the child learnt it.
6. Notice and praise Politeness
Pay extra attention to the positive behaviours instead of negative ones. Comments like, "I really like the way you waited for your turn to speak" or "You did a really well at explaining yourself without raising your voice” or “ I appreciate your respectful tone”; “That’s like a good child,”; “Keep it up,” encourage the child to keep up the good behaviour.
7. Remind yourself that this is a natural part of development.
Talking back is something all children naturally do as they grow more independent and assertive. When your child expresses his opinion about something, it’s actually a good thing, as he is trying to find his own ground. Respect that.
8. Monitor the content he is exposed to
Are you aware of the fact that he could be imitating an attitude he is watching on TV? Monitor the shows your child watches to make sure he's not picking up the wrong message, or undesirable attitude and language. A constant viewing of violent movies or serials can bring in such behaviour.
9. Monitor and avoid triggers
The trigger could be caused by being asked to do something they don't like, or to immediately stop doing something they like. Time warnings like "We're leaving in 15 minutes,” gives the child a sense of control and fulfillment. Also, break tasks down into one-step directions like “First eat your breakfast and then you can play,” help a lot.
10. Think of powerful leading questions and how to deal with them:
Does my kid feel powerless or not listened to?
Does he seem out of control?
Does the back talk occur because the child finds it the most
effective way to get attention?
Is my child irritable after school?
Is the negative behaviour exhibited more when the child hasn't slept
well or is hungry?
Am I aware of what happens in school?
Am I being a good listener?
Am I modelling good behaviour?
These questions will help you to be in control of the situation. And
remember our job as a parent is not to get our child to accept the
rationality of our decisions. We just need them to follow the rules that are well explained to them. If you feel the situation is beyond you, it might help to hire a coach and seek professional help.
| Jun 11, 2015
It would be nice to tell you that I actually stumbled upon this blog accidentally. But the name caughy my attention as I have been a informal teacher to teens for the past ten years. I have batches of just ten students yo teach Rnglish grammar and Social. studies for stds 8/9/10th. I have developedy own ways of dealing with yheir mood changes anf behaviour. But when it comes yo our vhildren there's nothing like being over-educated. So imlogged on n m in better position to understand them n deal with them. They are more of friends than students. Thanks a lot to the blog wtiters for making things simpler. Kudos. Cheers and keep writing.
| Sep 25, 2015
Hi, it's a nice article that we require as parent to avoid awkward situations in front of our relatives and friends. I have followed certain points mentioned in this article before, which is really useful. Yet,Our children are children to tackle their talk we should be cool headed and patience. happy to be a challenging parent.