What Do You Do When Little Mouths Talk Back?
If your kids talk back, “mouth off”, or otherwise complain if you ask them to do something – do you ignore it, or do you correct it?
I must confess, I’m the kind of mom that picks her battles, and many times I just walk away from a back-talking kid trying to keep from spreading the drama. After all, sometimes the attention given to it will make it worse and they know I’m not going to back down from what I’ve asked of them anyway. But lately I’m realizing that dismissing the disrespectful nature of it may not be the best idea. I realized that if I want to raise respectful children, I not only need to display respectful behavior myself, but also show them how to express their feelings and differences in a manner that is respectful to others.
Let’s keep it real though: raising world conquerors is not an easy job, and their strong-willed nature is such a wonderful characteristic to have. Constantly asserting their opinion is NOT a bad thing. It’s our job to direct their will, not sever it. So, we must be careful not to break their spirit of leadership that naturally occurs within them. It’s certainly a gift and they can use it for good as they mature. However, crossing the line into a disrespectful, bad behavior should certainly be corrected into a better way.
That being the case, by reinforcing what we know to be true about correct behavior, there are a few ways to address back talk.
Be In Control.... At All Times!
Taking control of the conversation is crucial. Stay calm and don’t raise your voice. Clearly let them know what’s expected, and if they still insist on being disrespectful, let them know the consequences. Whether it’s not wanting to do their chores, or not wanting to put down the toy at the store, explain to them what the correct behavior is and keep reiterating it until they understand. Remind them that the good behavior will have a reward. For us, we use a simple point system that helps remind them that they can use their points that they’ve earned to do something or purchase something that they would like.
"We repeat to them that is not acceptable to ask to purchase toys each time we go to the store. We remind them that they have ten of that same toy at home and getting another would be a waste of money."
We repeat to them that is not acceptable to ask to purchase toys each time we go to the store. We remind them that they have ten of that same toy at home and getting another would be a waste of money. We explain to them that not obeying when asked to pick up their room will result in loss of privileges. We do not allow dessert if they do not set the table, after being asked, in a timely manner for dinner. Rewards go a long way with kids, and redirecting is crucial to behavior modification. Most importantly, be consistent with whatever you do to address the behavior. Fulfill the consequences for the bad behavior. Saying that you’ll take away their privileges and not actually doing it will open the floodgates to worse behavior.
Be The Adult In The Room!
It’s hard when our children say things that hurt us, not to react emotionally. After all, they are our babies and we love them! However, yelling at them will prove to be ineffective in the long run and cause extreme disrespect towards adults as they get down their own path in life. When faced with hurtful words, let them know how you feel about what they said in a very calm manner. Let them know that you are disappointed with their choice of words because they were hurtful. Then, walk away and do not engage in a back-and-forth arguing. This displays maturity and will help them understand your boundaries (which is a great lesson in and of itself).
The goal is to teach them to be empathetic and understand that operating out of their emotions is not the correct way to act. If we operate out of our emotions, and not our logic, we are teaching them to do the same. Besides, there is a certain amount of guilt that comes with overreacting and having raised our voice in anger. We want to not have that guilt as much as possible.
You Have To Be Proactive!
The first step to reaching any goal is to believe that you can achieve it. Without truly believing that things can change for the better, they probably never will. Believe that things will get better, and they will, largely due to our belief that it will come to pass.
Create a list of things that are acceptable to do, with limits. Let them know that they can go into the store, if their behavior is acceptable. Let them know that they can ride their bike, staying within certain limits. Let them know that they can play with their toys, if they clean up afterwards. Let them know that they can go to the park, if they stay together and near the adult in charge. Make the emphasis be about what they can do instead of what they can’t do. This helps to keep them motivated to obey and away from bad behavior.
Practice, during free time or at the dinner table, how to properly act. Create a scenario and ask what their response would be. Role play it if you can. This is a great way to teach them, beforehand, how to respond to their negative emotions and reactions. For example, pretend they’re playing with a toy and another child approaches them and wants to play with it too. Explain to them the best course of action for them to take in that situation. Any scenario will work, because really the result of what you’re wanting them to achieve is the same for each scenario: to apply self-control and empathy to their decisions. Knowing in advance the proper course of action will help them to apply it in the situation once they’re in it. It may take some practice, but eventually they’ll get it.
"Books, toys, snacks or whatever helps your littles cope with the anxiety of crowds, the boredom of long trips, or exhaustion of a full day of errands."
Have items handy that will assist you with the inevitable. Books, toys, snacks or whatever helps your littles cope with the anxiety of crowds, the boredom of long trips, or exhaustion of a full day of errands.
Be OKAY With Natural Consequences
I’ll admit it right now. I’m horrible about wanting to console my child after they’ve been disciplined. It’s SO hard to let them wallow in their regrets and sorrow. But it is necessary to teach them, and I’ve learned over the years that if I get in the way of that process, I’m not allowing the natural consequences to teach them. I can speak to them all day long, but until they experience a consequence firsthand, they never truly “get it”. As mentioned earlier, be consistent with discipline and allow the fulfillment of punishments or the revoking of privileges to take their full effect. Giving back games or lessening the declared punishment will have a major impact on their understanding of boundaries and will open the floodgates to worse disrespect and disobedience than before. They need to understand that your word is as good as gold and going back on your word is detrimental to progress.
The good news is, you have ample time and room for mistakes. Children are pretty resilient, and the journey is long because we need it to be long. We are learning too, and we have time to get on the road to more ideal circumstances if we’ve deviated from it. No one is perfect, but when our children see is make that effort to become better, they feel it. They know that the change means safety and security, and they crave that security and the boundaries that come with it because we are designed to require instructional boundaries.
(The material on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for knowledgeable medical guidance or care. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat any health complications or illnesses without referring to your pediatrician or family physician. Please consult a physician with any inquiries or concerns you might have concerning you or your child’s conditions.)
Thank you for taking time to read this article on children back talking. We at Best Mommy Life hope it was helpful, fun, and informative. If you enjoyed this article please make sure to leave a like and comment below to let us know how we did. We love to hear from our Best Mommy Life Community!
If you REALLY enjoyed this article please consider sharing it through social media down below so your family and friends can also enjoy it!
We truly appreciate your support and continued encouragement as Best Mommy Life strives to provide great ideas, tips, and suggestions for Mommies around the globe!