Backtalk: How to Handle it Effectively

Found this article interesting and not really sure what to make of it.  What do you guys think?  John

Backtalk: How to Handle it Effectively

October 16, 2015 by Rebecca Wolfenden

Halloween is coming and your house looks like a tornado blew through it.

Tired of wading through pumpkin seeds and candy wrappers, you tell your daughter it’s time to stop playing her game and help clean up the kitchen. She responds with,

“We NEVER do anything fun around here. We ALWAYS have to clean up. I hate this family!”

Whether it’s Halloween, Christmas, or just an average day, this kind of behavior happens in a lot of families. Parents try to work their way through the chaos of a busy home, and kids respond to simple requests with backtalk or a bad attitude. We understand how tough this can be – nobody likes to be talked to this way.

While you might feel like it’s your job to change your child’s attitude, responding to backtalk in the moment can actually feed bad behavior. Instead, try and focus on your child’s actions. Did she stop playing the game? Is she picking up her mess even though she has a terrible attitude?

Focus on the behavior you want to see. You have the power to choose your battles – in the heat of the moment, it’s okay to ignore some backtalk.

Even if your child is swearing, mumbling, or resisting every time you give them a chore, their acting out, complaining behavior won’t change the rules.

In the moment, taking the pressure off yourself to respond to every little thing can help you parent more calmly and effectively. This doesn’t mean you’re not setting limits around your child’s behavior – if it feels appropriate, you can follow up with your child later to discuss consequences.

Take care!

Rebecca W., Empowering Parents Coach
Learn more about 1-on-1 Coaching

“In order to get a handle on backtalk, we need to focus on our child’s behaviors instead of responding emotionally. When we’re able to do so, we become our children’s limit setters, teachers and coaches, promoting the kind of behavior that will make them successful in life.” – Janet Lehman, MSW

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2 thoughts on “Backtalk: How to Handle it Effectively

  1. Good article…I like the part about it’s ok to ignore the backtalk and deal with the child/youth when things are calmer. Focusing on the “good” stuff in the midst of the backtalk, such as stopping an activity, etc. would work for me as well.

  2. Though I agree with the concept, I am wondering by not correcting the back talk, is that somehow getting the message that its okay.

    If we, as parents, are teaching our child skills that they will need to have as an adult, then I wonder how many ‘bosses’ will keep them hired if they back talk everyone.

    however, for me, it all depends on the age. I feel if its a younger child, then the backtalk need to be addressed. It’s a teaching moment. But for a teenager, then that is just part of the course and I would ignore it. If they already learned that it is unacceptable in their younger years, then it’s a phase and will just go away as they get older.

    IMO of course. :)


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