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Inside: Get easy and effective tips that will help you handle kids talking back in a positive way and put an end to the behavior. Understanding the reason behind the behavior and using these simple strategies will help you turn an angry reaction into a peaceful response, and handle these situations with calm and empathy.
When my son first started talking back to me I was so surprised that I didn’t even know how to react. I was looking at my sweet little boy and I couldn’t believe that he was saying those words to me!
For a while, I just tried to be empathetic and patient with him. I kept reminding myself that his behavior was probably his way of expressing some strong emotions that he didn’t know how to handle. I told myself that he needs my support and did my best to stay calm.
But inside of me, the anger was growing more and more. It felt harder to keep my calm and show empathy.
It didn’t take me long to realize that his disrespect was a big emotional trigger for me. This kind of behavior was completely unacceptable when I was a child so my first instinct was always to try to gain control of the situation and stop the behavior as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, this only made things worse.
I knew that I needed to find a way to deal with these situations in a positive way! Otherwise, my reactions would only damage our relationship and cause more misbehavior in the future!
So I did what I always do when I face a parenting struggle: I tried to get a better understanding of the reasons behind the behavior and I looked for ways to manage it better.
After a while, I finally discovered some effective strategies that helped me manage these challenging situations easier!
As I know back talk is a problem that many parents face, I wanted to share all these tips with you! Hopefully, they will help you handle kids talking back with more calm and empathy!
There is no magic solution to stop the behavior, but there are ways to handle it better and prevent it from becoming a constant struggle for your family!
Kids talking back: Why it happens
Children often talk back when they need more autonomy or control, or when their emotions are preventing them from formulating their requests in a more respectful way.
Kids need to learn respectful ways to communicate their opinions, so this is a skill that parents need to help them develop.
Understanding that back talk is just a signal for a deeper issue helps us focus on teaching our kids the communication skills they need.
As parents, we have a lot of power over our children’s lives, and sometimes our need for control makes the kids feel helpless and frustrated. Of course, we need to set boundaries and make sure that kids follow the rules that are important for us. But at the same time, it’s essential to assess our behavior towards the children constantly.
So, to get a better understanding of why your child may talk back, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you using a respectful tone when interacting with your child or are you setting a bad example of how communication should work?
- Are you allowing your kids to have enough control over their lives (in an age-appropriate way) or are you trying to control all aspects of their lives?
- Does your child feel like their opinions matter and are listened to? Are you flexible and reasonable when setting rules for your child to follow?
The answers to these questions may offer you a good insight into what may cause your child’s disrespect.
How to handle back talk using positive parenting strategies
The best way to handle kids talking back or acting disrespectfully is accepting the child’s feelings (while limiting the behavior) and teaching problem-solving skills.
⭐ Here are some easy ideas to use when dealing with back talk:
1. Respond calmly and avoid escalating the conflict.
If back talk triggers an angry response, we are tempted to put an end to it immediately. But this only brings more disrespectful communication and makes the child feel even more powerless. In the long run, this leads to more back talk and disrespect.
So before addressing the behavior, make sure that you don’t take it personally, and you manage to calm down.
2. Validate your child’s feelings and offer empathy.
Look at the reason behind the behavior and let the child know that you want to listen to their feelings.
Set a limit on the behavior but encourage your child to talk to you about how they feel.
e.g., “You must be very angry to talk to me like that! You can tell me what’s wrong without attacking me / being disrespectful. Let’s talk about what’s going on!”
If the child continues to be disrespectful, calmly let them know that you are there to help. Offer your support to help them calm down before addressing the situation.
e.g., “I see that you are still very upset! Let’s take some time to calm down so we can talk respectfully to each other about what’s going on.”
3. Take responsibility for your “contribution” to the problem.
If you notice that your approach contributed to the conflict, admit your fault and find a way to repair the situation.
e.g., “It seems like I sounded too bossy and disrespectful earlier. Let’s try this again!”
4. Work with your child in finding a win-win solution, if possible.
Showing flexibility and willingness to find a better solution will help your child calm down and work with you on this!
You can start by stating the situation and invite your child to come up with possible solutions.
e.g., “You want to play one more game before dinner. I want to make sure that we all sit at the table on time to enjoy the meal together. What can we do?”
After you find a solution together, show your child how having a respectful conversation helped both of you feel better. Offer them some phrases that they can use next time they get upset to replace back talk with a more respectful way to communicate with you.
Kids talking back: How to prevent the behavior
Here are some easy ways to avoid back talk and face fewer situations when your child acts disrespectfully:
⭐ Model respectful communication.
Children learn from what they live. If they see us yelling, threatening, or being disrespectful when we get angry, they are very likely to do the same.
⭐ Set clear expectations about respectful communications.
Let the child know that you are always open to working things out together, but in order to problem-solve together, both of you need to use a respectful tone.
⭐ Make sure that you are not over-controlling or you are not bossing your child around instead of interacting in a more positive way.
No one wants to receive orders all the time. No one likes to have someone nagging them or controlling all aspects of their lives.
So make enough room for connection every day. Find ways to make your child feel powerful and capable. Give your child enough control and replace orders with guidance to encourage more cooperation.
⭐ Pick your battles and don’t attend every power struggle you’re invited to.
Overreacting to a disrespectful comment from your child can quickly turn into a power struggle. Sometimes a calm and empathetic answer can defuse all the tension and help you and your child continue the day without an unnecessary conflict.
Hearing kids talking back to you can easily trigger an emotional reaction if you take things personally and let anger dictate your behavior.
Understanding the reason behind the behavior and using these simple strategies will help you turn an angry reaction into a peaceful response, and handle the situation in a positive way. And this can make such a big difference for the relationship you are building with your kids!
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