Responding to Back Talk

May 10, 2018
Responding to Back Talk

This week, our partners at the Seedlings Group focus on how to respond to back talk and rude behavior.

1. Praise positive dialogue to encourage respectful habits. 

Pay attention and praise (with some affection, too!) every time your child speaks to you calmly or with respect when he is tired, angry, or frustrated. It’s hard for children to control their words when they are upset, but practice helps. Reinforce respectful dialogue.

2. Identify back talk/rude behavior when it occurs, and respond immediately.

Rather than just labeling his behavior as “fresh” or” sassy,” explain what back talk is. Be specific about what your child said that you don’t like (e.g., the words, the tone, or his mannerisms). “When you say X, that is talking back. Talking back is not allowed.”

3. Be a good role model. Anticipate how you feel in situations and respond with intention.

React calmly and model verbal self-control with everyone (e.g., your child, partner, mother, nanny, etc.). How we react and respond as parents is important. If you want considerate, cooperative and problem solving kids, be their model.

4. Over time, add a consequence for using rude language or behavior.

Make this plan ahead of time, so your child knows exactly which behaviors will result in a consequence and that it will happen immediately after that kind of incident. For example, “When you chose to say X to me, then you chose to leave the play date.”

5. Give your child experiences and opportunities to feel in control, powerful, and heard.  

She is starting to gain more control over her own life (despite feeling powerless most of the time) while simultaneously realizing that her behavior and words can exert control over others. Let her plan a weekend activity, help cook a dinner of her choosing, or initiate the conversation at the dinner table. Make it explicit.


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