How to Handle a Child Who Is Talking Back

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One of the biggest disciplinary issues parents have to deal with is how to deal with a child who is talking back to them. Backtalk can happen at almost any age, starting almost as early as when a child has mastered the “No!” Their first. It’s a normal part of child development, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

Repetition can be triggered for a variety of reasons. It can stem from a child trying to control his or her own life, such as what he wears, eats, or does. It can be a way of testing a child’s boundaries.Or it could simply be a groan from hunger or fatigue.

Whatever the cause, talking back is something parents should take immediate and effective action against. As parents, it is our duty to teach our children how to express their wishes and opinions in a respectful and constructive manner.

Always composing

How you react to your child’s retorts can set the tone for your interactions. Children can be extremely adept at pushing their parents’ buttons. So it can be tempting to respond to a 5-year-old who declares, “I’m not my boss!” quickly, “Actually me!”

If you don’t want your child to learn that wild trading or verbal warfare is a good way to handle conflict, don’t respond until you can speak in a calm and controlled manner.Breathe, go into another room, or do whatever you need to do to avoid escalation.

Children set an example for their parents, that’s why you have to set an example and show them how they behave.

Also keep this in mind when interacting with spouses, friends, family, and strangers — little ears often listen, even if you don’t know it.

Establish expected behavior

It’s important to be clear with your child about acceptable ways of expressing himself.Be specific so they know that barking or shouting specific words or phrases— “Yeah, that’s right,” “Give me a break,” “Fine,” “Whatever” — won’t fly. . The same goes for rude behaviors like rolling your eyes, puckering your lips, or staring at you.

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It may take a few reminders for young children to really learn what to expect, so give them a few opportunities to correct their bad behavior. In the meantime, call out when that happens (“Don’t say ‘You can’t make me’ when you ask you to put your toys away”) and tell your child to stop.

Consequence enforcement

Downplaying disrespectful behavior can often encourage much of the same behavior, so you have to stand your ground when your child scolds you or uses offensive words.Make sure to be informed about the consequences of backtalk in advance: By knowing in advance what it will cost them, children can see how avoiding it benefits them.

Consider age-appropriate breaks (aim for minutes equal to your child’s age), do extra chores, or take time away from watching TV or the computer. When enforcing consequences, remind your child of its connection to backtalk— “Once you decide to tell me that, you won’t be able to continue the game.” Don’t mess around; It’s hard to follow, but it’s the only way to let the kids know you’re serious.

Dig deeper

Note that often when children speak back, what they are really expressing is anger, frustration, fear, or hurt. Saying it again guarantees your attention, and negative attention is better than nothing.

These outbursts and other behavioral problems are often more common during the transition, such as a new baby in the house, a change in a parent’s work schedule, or something else going on. out at school.

Your child may feel ignored or neglected and use backtalk just to spend time with mom or dad. Figuring out the reason behind bad behavior can make it easier to understand and solve the problem.

Looking for patterns

Along the lines, keep track of when the back-and-forth exchange occurs. Does your son get cranky after school or after extracurricular activities? Does your daughter tend to exhibit negative behavior such as talking back when she hasn’t had enough sleep?

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Try to continue to monitor when your child talks back so you can take steps to change or eliminate those triggers and prevent problems before they start.

Of course, your child still has to learn to be polite no matter how he feels, but less talkative behavior means you’ll deal more effectively with inappropriate behavior.

Give and Ask for Respect

When your child expresses his opinion about something, it’s actually a good thing. In fact, research published in 2011 found that kids who have their own thoughts and opinions and aren’t afraid to express them are less likely to go with their peers who can experiment with drugs and alcohol.

That said, it’s important for parents to balance understanding with demands for respect. While children should know that they are safe to express their opinions and that parents are listening to what they think and feel, they must also know that cheeky backsliding and rough gestures loss is not acceptable.

Make sure to emphasize the message that you won’t listen to what they have to say until they can tell you calmly and respectfully.

Keep track of what your kids see

Many TV shows and movies depict children talking back to adults and often displaying sarcasm and sassy attitudes. While that can be good for comedy, kids need to know that mimicking that type of behavior isn’t funny – or acceptable – in real life. One way to see what your kids are exposed to is to watch what they watch so you can talk about what they see on the screen.

Praise good behavior

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, including children. When they communicate properly, reward their behavior with a hug, a thank you, or a compliment.

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Children who receive positive reinforcement are less likely to act to get attention.

However, make sure kids understand that simply asking respectfully doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get the results they want. You might say, “I love the way you asked if you could play another game, but it’s time for bed.”


It’s important to remind yourself that backtalk is a normal part of a child’s development. Talking back is something all children do naturally as they become more independent and assertive. This behavior can be frustrating for you, remind yourself that your child doesn’t talk back because you did something wrong or because he doesn’t respect you.

Looking for help

If your child repeatedly engages in the inversion, your efforts to curb the behavior are fruitless and you see other behaviors, such as anger, tantrums, and constant refuses to listen to or follow directions, talk to your child’s pediatrician. . Your child may have oppositional defiant disorder or ODD, which can be managed and treated with appropriate help.

A very good word

As frustrating and frustrating as backtalk can be, remember that your positive response will help keep this behavior under control. Also know that countless other parents are going through the same thing. Most importantly, remind yourself that the calmer you are and the less you allow yourself to be swayed by sassy statements, the more your child will learn to use positive ways to express opinions. his own.

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