Monday, April 5, 2010
5 ideas to tame back talk
It was interesting that I had more conversations with friends and clients these past weeks about back talking than any other parenting concern!
Sometimes the use of seemingly disrespectful tones and attitudes is a reflection of their inability to ask for what they need: to be listened to and/or treated respectfully. Our children are negotiating the world around them and don’t always have the appropriate tools to do that.
Here are some ideas for you to consider if you find yourself angry on a regular basis and wondering if you are raising a juvenile delinquent:
1. Teaching your child proper manners is a way to start at an early age to show them what behavior, tone and language is expected of them. Showing your child that it is courteous to say “thank you” when someone gives them a gift or that it is polite to wait until you are off the phone instead of pulling on your shirt or yelling at you.
2. One step you can take to start changing the back talking situation is by setting clear limits and boundaries as well as consequences for transgressions. Let your child know clearly and lovingly what behavior is not acceptable and make those your “family rules”. In our home, we have the rule that if you “hit you sit”, making it clear to even the smallest child that there are clear and definite consequences if she decides to use her fists instead of her words. Kids need to know what is expected of them but they also need to know that the rules apply consistently!
3. When you are correcting your child’s disrespectful behavior, make sure to watch your own tone and body language: it’s much easier to be respectful and polite when our kid hasn’t pushed our buttons! Use a firm but respectful tone and tell your child what you want from him instead of what you don’t want. It is most helpful to say: “I see you using your fighting words. I need you to lower your voice and use respectful words” instead of “you better watch that mouth or I’ll wash it with soap”.
4. Make sure to take the time to be a detective and find all the times when your child IS using his manners and choosing to act respectfully. The more you do that the more they learn that you “see” them in their wholeness as a person, not just as the brat that you are always nagging at. You encourage more of the behavior you want by focusing on what is already working!
5. If you notice that your child’s behavior and backtalk seems to be aggravated by the company of certain friends or after watching certain TV shows or listening to certain music, you may have to make some hard choices about what your child listens to, watches and the people they are allowed to hang out with.
Trust your mommy instincts: if you feel hurt and angry, check in with yourself first. You have what you need to decide if the situation is or is not backtalk. I trust you!