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How To Stop Back Talk From Your Child

Many parents face this challenge. Backtalk may be annoying and sometimes maddening, but it is a commonplace symptom of gaining independence and growing up. Kids of all ages have a formidable sense of individual power on an emotional level. As soon as they can’t get it because they are commanded or everything is done for them, they retaliate by lashing out with words. Here are 5 tips on how to stop backtalk from your child.

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How To Stop Backtalk From Your Child

Shift The Power to Them

Look for opportunities where you can allow them to take some control, for instance, allowing them to choose their own outfit. When children feel their need for power is not adhere to, they start acting out. In most scenarios, children have the upper hand because you cannot physically force them to eat their cauliflower or force them to fall asleep.

We as parents also cannot regulate what they say. The best way to start seeing improvement in this behavior is through proactive parenting.  Where talkback is concerned, the more positive power that is given to them proactively, the less it will be necessary for you to react when they use power in a negative way. 


Take Your Role Seriously

Communication involves two people and you as the parent must own your role that you play in the power struggle. Mind the way you communicate and try not to direct, order, and correct the whole time. Parents often contribute to these power struggles unknowingly by bossing children around too much, subsequently encouraging talkback. If you place yourself in your child’s shoes would you be able to not say anything if you were told what to do constantly? Instead, dedicate time to intentionally play, listen, and engage with them. This is the best way to proactively avoid backtalk.

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Pay Attention to them

Children need constant attention. All humans have an elementary need to belong and feel like they matter, and for kids, the only way to meet these meets is by giving them your undivided attention. This involves three things:

  1. It must be centered around the child
    The child decides what happens. Giving them the opportunity to regulate this time spent with you, you are giving them attention and power.
  2. No interruptions are allowed
    This means putting away your phone, and stepping away from the TV, or whatever you were doing. It can wait until your time with him or her is finished. You do not have to allocate hours towards this time. I could be half an hour or fifteen minutes a day. But this means giving your undivided attention with no interruptions.
  3. Name it and Claim it
    These few minutes or half an hour is your special time with them. Involve them with coming up with a name and make sure they know that this time with them is significant and meaningful.

Name the Rules

Kids need a constant routine and structure to thrive. Power struggle soften occur with kids that are not sure of what is expected of them or that are unsure of what to expect. Backtalk is a form of pushback to a vague and unenforced expectation. There is nothing wrong with having a more flexible approach to parenting, but there must be some stability and consistency in a child’s life to reach long time success. 

Do not lose your cool

No matter how good of a performance they are giving, you need to remain unimpressed. As soon as you get upset and respond negatively, they gain control. Rather tell them that you are hurt by the way they are talking to you and as long as they talk to you like that, you are walking away. As soon as they are ready to speak to you in a respectful manner, you are ready to listen.

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19 comments

  1. This is very helpful as times are changing and we don’t want to make mistakes in bringing up our children the correct way. We have to accept we don’t know everything and can learn from our kids aswell. I think the respect line should always be there but parents have to understand and allow their kids to be human aswell. We should empower them to being their own individuals yet never loose sight that we are their parents and they should respect that yet not fear opening up to us. Here both children and parents should grow together.

  2. I appreciate this content !

    • This is a very helpful article… it’s not so much back talk as it is repeating every thing I say when reprimanding him, and it drives me absolutely insane!!! But I will definitely try doing a few things on this list to see if it works. I really hope it does. Toddler boys are a handful.

  3. Much needed advice… My daughter loves back chatting its like in her DNA no matter what you say she has a answer.

  4. Lee-Ann George

    I constantly remind my husband to not lose his cool…Kids these days are so advanced and so intelligent…we cannot always raise them how we were raised.I definitely agree with the point on attention …our generation parents have cellphones which our parents didn’t have to deal with and it easily turns into a distraction from our kids.Being self aware as parents definitely is a requirement..

  5. Thank you so much for this article regarding how to handle our kids when they talk back.i hve a 6 year old gal n a recently 4 month baby boy.my gal is just acting up all the time.its being a bit hectic.so thank you for this amazing advise.

  6. Thanks you so much this article is a must read.i have learnt a lot from reading this as a first time mom.

  7. So after reading this I decided to shift the power to my daughter for her room… and yesterday she was back chatting me and I told her go to your room and read and she went and was playing with her books and so I scolded her and her reply was didnt you give me power of my room so she can do what she wants… so in this case how do you deal with that, how do you address the situation with out taking power back?

    • I feel it is about finding balance Naomi, yes they must have some control but they are still the child and you are the parent that makes the rules. I would explain it to her, that yes she has the power over her room but that does not mean she can do absolutely anything she wants all the time. For example she can’t go and break her cupboards and smash her windows, explain to her that there are limits and you will set them.

  8. Thank you for covering this topic. The article is very informative. My 5 year old is starting back chatting and the article gives very useful information to handle it.

    • Good luck Jamie-Lee – it really is an ongoing battle when they reach that age! My kids are 7 and 9 now, thankfully its not too bad my side. I hope these tips help you 🙂

  9. Ashley Padayachee

    Great tips, thank you for this 🙂

  10. WONDERFUL ARTICLE

  11. Pieter Meintjes

    This will help a lot.

  12. My 5 year old loves talking back. He is the youngest & he just does not seem to listen. Will definitely make use of these tips. Hope it helps!

  13. This is very interesting, looking forward to many more!

  14. Great Tips Every Mom And Dad Would Read It

  15. Antonette Harypursat

    Thank you for this article. What stuck out for me was naming the rules in place and keeping your cool. It is so important as parents to remember that our reaction will determine whether we all go to bed with tear-stained cheeks or not. And to be honest, cutting them some slack at times really does not cost anything hence it is so important to pick your battles. I always say, it’s totally fine to be upset but it’s never fine to be disrespectful.

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