Inside this post: When it comes to raising smart kids who are kind and don’t talk back, it’s good to have these powerful tips in your back pocket.
It’s so easy to get frustrated when dealing with a child who is talking back when presented with a task, so how do we end the backtalk in your home?
The thing is, backtalk can happen at any age, usually when they learn how to say “No”, and it’s actually a very important part of their development, which doesn’t make dealing with the attitude any easier.
A lot of the time, talking back happens when a child is simply trying to gain control over their own life with a simple act of choosing clothing, food or activity.
Other times, backtalk happens if the child is tired, grumpy, or is simply needing to test boundaries.
Nevertheless, there are things you can do to stop the disrespectful backtalk, and manage these important growth milestones in a gentle parenting kind of way.
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Why Kids Talk Back
Backtalk is a very normal stage of life, and all children go through it. It is all about the disrespectful tone that your child responds to you with, and it can be very discouraging to a parent to deal with.
Backtalk can be presented with a simple eye roll, all the way to a full-blown shouting match, sometimes ending in profanity with older kids.
All children are looking to be more independent, and that’s what we want for them as parents. I’m constantly teaching independence with chore systems, routines and financial responsibilities too.
But this independence comes with a price, the price of backtalk.
Not all backtalk is needed to be corrected, however, if you were to experience the kind of backtalk you’re presented with in front of a coworker or friend, would you be embarrassed?
If yes, then you most likely need to be proactive in correcting this behaviour.
There are 3 main reasons that children talk back.
- Exercising their “power”
- They feel disrespected or “bossed around”
- They don’t know how to properly communicate their feelings
So whatever the reason may be for your child’s outburst, you need to make sure you understand why it’s happening so you can correct the behaviour before it gets out of hand later on in life.
Ways To Prevent/Minimize Backtalk In Your Home
This is the biggest factor in handling backtalk from your child. If you’re not calm, how can you expect your child to stay calm?
I totally get it, when listening to a child speak to you in a disrespectful tone, the anger boils up so quickly that you may feel like it’s impossible to stay calm.
But, it’s important that you try to be calm and collected in this situation.
Ultimately, your child learns how to deal with situations from you, so seeing you overreact to something, will tell them that it is also ok for them to overreact to situations.
We all make mistakes and overreact in situations, but having a conversation about it and apologizing, will help ease that tension if you do happen to yell back at your backtalking child.
Ensure Your Children Understand The House Rules
Do you have a set of house rules, and do your children understand what they are?
Sometimes children get frustrated if they don’t understand why you’re constantly telling them to stop running in the house. Setting them up with a house rule of no running in the house and explaining why it can be dangerous to do so, can help end the backtalk when you ask your child repeatedly to stop running in the house.
Imagine you are at work and your boss tells you to make copies of your work before you leave the office every day.
If you didn’t know this was an office rule, you might get frustrated with your boss and talk back to them, especially if you’re already running late to pick up the kids and another task is just frustrating to your situation.
The same thing applies to your home and your kids. Set clear house rules and expectations so that everyone is on the same page all the time. This will reduce any tantrums, backtalk and confusion in your home.
Create Daily Meaningful Connections
Making sure to connect with your child in a positive way on a daily basis can help end the backtalk in your home.
Time flies every day. Things are so busy and you may not even know it but before the day is over you’ve not spent more than 5 minutes of quality time with your child.
Happens to me sometimes and the mom guilt takes over. It’s a bad scene.
I set reminders on my Google home hub to make sure I plan special quality time with my kids on a daily basis. Sorry, I’m a little off track, there’s the mom guilt coming through!
When you are SO BUSY, commanding your child around with tasks they NEED to complete, will surely lead to eye-rolling and attitude.
If you spend five minutes on one on one attention with each child daily, you’re way less likely to experience attitude, and more likely to experience gratitude!
Try Not To Dictate And Order Kids Around
Talking to kids instead of at kids is a great way to create connecting conversations instead of dictations.
You can create these calm conversation by providing room for your kids to talk while you listen to their concerns and address any issues in a calm and collected way.
Believe it or not, parents can trigger backtalk and power struggles, without even knowing they are doing so, just by bossing kids around instead of having conversations.
Bossing your kids around will make them feel discouraged, and they may lose self-confidence, and no parents wants that for their child.
So take a moment and reflect, do you order your kids around, or do you have conversations with them?
Provide Opportunities For Kids To Do Things Themselves
Sometimes power struggles and backtalk are a result of not feeling independent enough.
Make sure you provide enough opportunities daily for your child to feel like they have control over their own life.
This can be as simple as picking out their own outfit if they are a toddler or having your teenager pick the restaurant for the next family dinner.
Kids need to have their “power” needs to be met, otherwise, they will express their powers in different ways, (tantrums, backtalk, disrespect) which could impact bedtime, dinner time, and any other routine you may have set in your home.
Providing your child with opportunities to be independent is a proactive way to prevent backtalk. It is far better to be proactive, than reactive.
Great Responses For Backtalk
Backtalk Response: I’ll Do It Later
Does your child ever tell you they will do it later and then never end up doing it?
This is a common way for children to get away without helping out around the house without directly saying no they will not help.
Instead of giving in to this response with an “ok, but make sure it gets done”, which is dismissive and they can still get away with their avoidance, try an “if and when” response.
Response Example: “No worries, If you do clean your room, you’ll be able to have a friend over later today”
This way, your child will understand that they aren’t cleaning their room for you, but for themselves, so they can have a friend over in a cleanroom.
Another Example: “Ok that sounds great! Unfortunately, you cannot use the cell phone until it is done.“
This works well because it is a way to motivate them to get their stuff done.
Backtalk Response: Whatever
The “Whatever” response usually happens when children have lost an argument and throw one last remark at you to make you angry.
The response to “whatever” is easy.
Just walk away. You’ve already won the argument.
What doesn’t work: “Don’t you whatever me young man.”
Backtalk Response: You Can’t Make Me
This is a power struggle response to your request that they just don’t want to complete. It’s never a great idea to say ” Yes I can” in response to you can’t make me because it sounds like you’re threatening them.
Example Response: “I know I can’t make you, but if you don’t follow the rules, then there will be consequences.“
Backtalk Response: Leave Me Alone
sometimes children will want to shut you out when they are angry. while it is alright for kids to take space if they need it.
When children are in this state of mind, you cannot force them to talk to you. Any sort of force will make the situation worse.
Example Response: “Alright, no problem, let’s talk about this at 7pm” or “whenever you are ready“
If your child still does not want to talk about it, that’s alright.
Follow up with a consequence, if this matter is serious enough that it warrants a conversation.
Example: You don’t have to talk to me about this right now, but there will be no more computer use until we have this conversation“
Backtalk Response: You Don’t Love Me
Well if this isn’t something that throws guilt directly into the face of parents… This form of backtalk is one of the hardest to hear.
However, you can reinforce the rules you have set and discuss that the issue is not about love.
Example: “This isn’t about love, this is about the rules we have in our family about screen time on weekends.“
Try to avoid responses that justify that you do love them because you did x,y,z for them lately.
Ending The Backtalk In Your Home
As we have discussed, backtalk is a very normal part of the development stage, and it is very difficult to avoid, even in the most well-behaved child.
Backtalk comes in the form of eye-rolling, shouting matches and sometimes profanity.
If your children are feeling disrespected or bossed around, needing more independence, or simply needing guidance for learning to express their feelings, you can expect to receive some eye rolls and backtalk from them.
Remember that keeping calm, setting house rules, creating meaningful daily connections and providing opportunities for your children to be independent are great ways to end the backtalk in your home.