Responding to Back-Talk and Rude Behavior

December 14, 2017
Responding to Back-Talk and Rude Behavior

Reduce back-talk with these tips from Seedlings Group.


1. Praise positive dialogue. Pay attention and praise specifically (with some affection too) every time your child speaks to you with respect or calmly when he or she is tired, angry, or frustrate. Reinforce respectful dialogue.

2. Use helping language. “I see you’re upset. Please find a way to tell me so I’ll want to listen,” “Kind words will get my attention more than name calling,” or “I won’t listen to yelling. You need to find a way to calm down.”

3. Be a good role model. Try to respond calmly and model verbal self-control with everyone in your life. How we react and respond as parents is important. If you want considerate, cooperative, critical thinking, problem solving kids, be their model.

  • Think before you speak. What were you upset about? Be clear.
  • Validate feelings. This doesn’t mean you agree, just that you hear.
  • Be non-judgmental. This sets the tone and is positive for modeling.

4. Define what back-talk/rude behavior is immediately after it occurs. Be specific about what your child said that you don’t like (for example, their words, tone, or mannerisms). “When you say _____, that is talking back. Talking back is not allowed.”

5. Don’t label your child’s talk or behavior. Saying, “Don’t be sassy,” doesn’t tell your child what about their words or behavior was sassy and it also sounds engaging.

6. Define your expectations and be specific, brief, and concrete. Tell your child that back-talk/rude behavior is not allowed in your family because it isn’t nice or hurts or is disrespectful, and also isn’t an effective way to argue.

7. Respond immediately when back-talk/rude behavior occurs. Give specifics and describe the behavior your child used. For example, “When I tell you that it’s time to put away your magnatiles and you aren’t ready, you need to ask me if you can continue building. Don’t roll your eyes when I ask you to put them away, and use angry words like, ‘you’re not the boss of me.’ Rolling your eyes isn’t an effective way to argue.”

8. Empathize with your child. It’s hard to control what you say when you’re angry or frustrated but the more you do, the better you get.

9. Over time, add a consequence for rude language or behavior. Make this plan ahead of time, so your child knows exactly what behaviors will result in a consequence and that it will happen immediately after that kind of behavior. For example, “When you chose to say _____ to me, then you chose to leave the play date.”

10. Engage in problem solving conversations.  Think and talk about what you both can do differently to reduce conflict and face challenging situations and moments as a team.


For more information on helping children to learn manners, click here.


Content created in partnership with Seedlings Group