Backtalk: How to Handle it Effectively

Posted October 16, 2015 by

Photo of rebeccawolfenden

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.

When we explain this Total Transformation concept to parents, we often hear a sigh of relief! 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.

Ignoring backtalk and disrespect isn’t always easy. Let us know if you need help! We’re here to provide as much support and guidance as you need.

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

About

Rebecca Wolfenden is a loving Momma to her son and a dedicated 1-on-1 Coach. She earned her degree in Social Work from West Virginia University and has been with Empowering Parents since 2011. Rebecca has experience working with children and families in home settings and schools, and has extensive practice working with people of all ages who have survived significant emotional and physical trauma.

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  1. Charity mom (Edit) Report

    I learned the hard way to.let my son accept.his.own consequences.he de ided to skip school.last week to.go.longboearding.he was sent to detention for 6 days.he says nownthat I was the one whe sent him to jail but then I wasnt tje one who.got locked up.I tjink deep down he understands, bit its easier to blame.me.Alanon is.helpful and also maybe your son is deptessed..,neeidng pshychological evealuation

    Reply
  2. Sadij (Edit) Report

    My 15 yr old son doesnt care about school. I try so hard to help him. I make him do is homework because if I don’t he won’t do it. The worst part is that he doesn’t care to fail.

    Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      midlomom
      Lying is a frustrating behavior for many parents to address.
      It may help to know that lying is a reflection of your child’s poor problem
      solving skills. Many kids lie as a way to avoid getting in trouble or as a way
      to get attention. While it’s not OK, it is fairly common. We have several
      articles that give great tips for ways of addressing lying in children and
      teens. One in particular you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-deal-with-lying-in-children-and-teens/. I hope you find this article
      helpful. Be sure to check back if have any further questions. Take care.

      Reply
  3. Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

    jnr20
    Many parents struggle with knowing how to effectively
    address behaviors that happen outside of the home, so, you’re not alone in your
    frustration. We wouldn’t recommend using physical punishments, birthday gifts,
    or other consequences to address the behavior. Instead, focus on helping him
    develop better problem solving or coping skills for the situations he is facing
    in school. It would also be beneficial to develop a reward or incentive plan
    that focuses on him behaving appropriately while at school. For example,
    perhaps he earns extra TV or video game time on the days he has appropriate
    behavior. We have several articles that focus on acting out behaviors in
    school. Two you may find helpful are http://www.empoweringparents.com/10-ways-to-motivate-your-child-to-do-better-in-school.php#ixzz3png2xd9d & http://www.empoweringparents.com/problems-at-school-how-to-handle-the-top-4-issues.php#ixzz3pngFyaXm. We appreciate you writing in. Be
    sure to check back with any other questions you may have. Take care.

    Reply
  4. maggieszpak Report

    Hi im new on this site my heart is torn I have a 14 year old son diagnosed with adhd I canstantly fight argue with him I tell him to do something he says your making me mad . And ive had professionals tell me let him be so I do but now it seems he uses or says im getting mad right now foe everything…if I push to get it done the doors get slamed things get thrown sometimes gets phisical. As of two days ago I sent him to group home I love my son very much I dont want to give up but its not healthy to live like that either. Im heart broken not knowing if I made the right decision can some one give advice or comments?

    Reply
  5. Charity mom (Edit) Report

    My 15 yr old son does the same kind of thing when I say the word “no”.same sense of entitlement.I have begun to charge him for things like rent and laundry and transportation in the former of chores which he used to refuse to.do because “I hate you and I’m moving out” after discovering that getting emancipated isn’t that easy he has become more appreciative of all he has and sometimes I stead of just saying “no”u say we’ll what have you done to deserve that

    Reply
  6. Cheryl Report

    I’m new here, but at my wits end. My husband and I have a 16 yr old daughter who believes that she is a lot more mature than she actually is. We live in a horrible school district, so she does school from home. This has been a great benefit to her mentally, but she doesn’ t have any chance to meet friends that aren’t already on drugs, we have tried. She is becoming increasingly disrespectful to both her Father and I and it has escalated to physical hitting on 2 seperate occasions.
    I worked very hard when I was younger, so I could give her things and opportunities that I didn’t have when I was growing up, but I had a TIA (mini-stroke) when 20 due to a rare blood disorder that went undiagnosed for almost 10 years and now I am on disability for various illnesses, including the rare blood disorder. My husband works, but we don’t have much income, and we struggle a lot for our basics….Somehow, though, we are still left with an entitled princess that has an all out melt down at hearing ” no”. I don’t understand and It breaks my heart. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Working the program (Edit) Report

      Don’t say no. Saying yes,as soon as,or right after . That way you both get what you want. If she wants to go out but hasn’t done chores, say sure you can go right after you do the dishes. Little job little time,big job more time or add money. You can go out for an hour and here is $5.

      Reply
  7. AprilStilesAvery (Edit) Report

    So what you are teaching them is that its ok to be disrespectful to your parents?  Sure, pick your battles.  But when you let backtalk slide I feel it gives them the wrong idea. That is why we have so many disrespectful people out there!  Of all ages.

    Reply
    • guest (Edit) Report

      AprilStilesAvery  You missed this sentence in the article: “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.”

      The key is ignoring backtalk *in the moment.* This helps to avoid knee-jerk reactions and saying things you might regret. Just because you choose to address the behavior later doesn’t mean you’re letting it slide. There are still consequences, you’re just not giving them in the moment.

      Reply
  8. Mom MS (Edit) Report

    Oliveleaf, you have the same situation as me. But if it is our children and our husband it means that we are the minority and they
    will always win!!!??? I think it is me that needs to be changed, so they will want to please me…. Can someone explain this to me?

    Reply
  9. MargaretGarcia (Edit) Report

    Would like to hear about situations where mom/daughter knock heads and “yell” constantly.  They love each other very much, but they are exactly alike.  My granddaughter is 9 and her mom is in her 30’s.  My granddaughter does very well in school, has many outside activities, but the minute my daughter arrives home, the yelling starts…shouting “did you do your homework, make your bed etc., instead of asking “how was your day, have daddy do this or that, I have to get dinner, bathe the 2 year old, etc.  Going to their house, I come out of there a nervous wreck.  My GD is on behavior management meds, whereas, seems like mom needs it more.  When I try to talk with my daughter, her comeback is “okay I am just a bad parent” and hangs up.  No reasoning with her.  Any suggestions.  mag

    Reply
  10. julie Report

    I get this a lot, not just from one of my children but my husband too. The other response is “sure” – but both ways the job isn’t done. I have tried many things, including leaving the mess but that ends up being an OH&S issue or stresses my other child as she feels she can’t have friends over. I am now finding myself constantly feeling worn out from the hours of daily cleanup. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      Oliveleaf
      It can be really frustrating when your child agrees to do
      something, and then doesn’t follow through.  Something that can be helpful
      in those situations is making sure that you are calm and clear in both your
      expectations, and how you will hold your child accountable if it is not
      complete.  For example, you might say something like, “It is your night to
      do dishes, and I expect they will be done by 7PM.  If they are not washed
      by then, you will not have electronics for the evening.”  James Lehman
      outlines some additional tips in his article http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Get-Kids-to-Do-Chores.php.  Please let us
      know if you have any additional questions!

      Reply
  11. MomMom2742 (Edit) Report

    My son is almost 15. If I ignore his back talk he keeps after me to answer his turn around questions!! Then he thinks he’s won!!! He argues like an impassioned lawyer who can’t see anything but his own point of view!!

    Reply
    • AdoptivMom (Edit) Report

      An older wise woman told me once that she tells her children that she loves them too much to argue with them. I have used it a few times on my 14 yr old son who strives on debating His opinions (which are quite ridiculous a lot of the time) The first time I said it, instead of arguing with him, I got quite the look from him. He didn’t know how to react, and he went to his room frustrated with me. The next time I used it, he tried using my words against me. I just repeated that I lived him too much to argue with him and left.

      Reply
    • m43154 (Edit) Report

      MomMom2742  What I find works for me is that if I keep my voice at just above a whisper and I make it very clear that I have chosen not to react to you because what you are doing and I know you are doing is trying to create an aggitated state in which you think you are in control.  In actuality, I am the one in control and while I may not chose to respond to you in the manner you think I should by responding to you the way that I am should be sufficient acknowledgement that I have heard you and that I will not engage in this behavior.  I am the adult and while you feel it necessary to push my buttons with your questions, attitude and back talk, I feel it is also necessary for me to let you know that you have but 2 questions you may ask.  Make them count.  Anything else that you might like to ask me, please put it in writing and I will get back to you when I have sufficient time to waste on these immature behaviors.

      Reply
  12. misswinn (Edit) Report

    Focus on what they do right and what you want to see more of. Well written. I like the idea of still adressing that attitude at a later stage. Maybe purposely commenting on their attitude when they DON’T back talk. Your weekly emails are great for keeping focussed. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Mom MS (Edit) Report

    This is happening every Christmas and new year dinner preparation and every holiday since my daughters became old enough to be expected to help me in the house cleaning.
    “We NEVER do anything fun around here. We ALWAYS have to clean up. I hate this family!”
    After they say this infamouse phrase they (including my husband) immediately starting texting and calling to see who is awailable from their friends to go out to hang out. And i am left alone to clean everything and bring into an order. After they return i am tired still finishing ‘last things’ anticipating that at least now we will be toghther. But they already had their fun. And have no interest in me or home.
    Sounds me being a looser, but unfortunately all decisions concerning our family are my responvibilty and no one take it when the time comes. Or they are making their our decisions and I am not a part of it:)????

    Reply
    • wkatch (Edit) Report

      Don’t do it, honey! Next big holiday, go out, enjoy the holiday as well! When they ask about their pie, or whatever is special to them, offer them the recipe! There are too many places open now that do it for you to put up with their crap! You are not a loser. Then, do something for you!

      Reply
    • Trinia (Edit) Report

      Sounds a bit like my sons. They are interested in their video games not me.
      I preach to them how important it is to have a good relationship and that I am more important than their games. Hopefully the message gets through.

      Reply
      • Epbead (Edit) Report

        Pull the power cord off game system and lock it up. They get to play after work and showing respect. I had years of giving in and then was so defeated and they were out of control. It’s hard to listen to the complaints at first but be strong. They will come along. We are all good parents. We just have been trained by our kids to react badly.

        Reply
    • Anna banana bobanna (Edit) Report

      Mom MS Why on earth do you think this sounds like you being a loser? Sounds to me like your family sure are acting like the losers. Do they actually tell you that you are a loser?

      Reply
      • Mom MS (Edit) Report

        Thank you very much for your support Trinia and all others. No they did not tell me that i am a looser:) you are right Anna banana and wkatch 🙂 I could feel it, but now when you put it that way it is accrually them, not me. It is their weakness and my strength. There were several years of separation and suffering before I finally learned to love my family the way they are and separate evil from my loved ones. Now I’d love to have the mess if only my house will be full again.
        Yes, i tried to go out with friends, but it did not feel the same anyway.

        Reply
        • wkatch (Edit) Report

          Mom MS
          Either way, you don’t have to have the big mess. You can go out as a family and enjoy dinner together the same as you can prepare all of the food and enjoy it together at home. You just don’t have to put up with them using you to have a family dinner, Sweetie. But it sounds a little more like learning to love yourself. You need to learn to be happy with yourself, and love yourself, before worrying about others. Give yourself a big jug, and tell yourself that you are worth a lot more than putting up with the way that they treat you! Happiness is a choice, Sweetie. Make that choice, now. Choose to be happy, and in whatever you do, don’t let them steal your joy!  Jesus died for you, and loves you no less than he loves anyone else, and he didn’t make ANY mistakes there! YOU ARE LOVED!

          Reply
      • Mom MS (Edit) Report

        Thank you very much for your support. When i asked my husbaeave, there were several years of separation and suffering before I finally learned to love my family the way they are and separate evil from my loved ones. Now I love to have the mess only my house will full again.

        Reply
  14. Candice E (Edit) Report

    I see your point & that might lower my blood pressure not to answer back.
    But I try to reason with my kids why we need to be respectful to each other. Your home is what you make it. It can be a loving or a war zone. Parenting can be tough and no one is prefect. It nice to hear everyone views & opinions. Thank you.

    Reply
  15. Louise (Edit) Report

    Anyone got any advise please we are bringing our 10 year old grandson up since he was born and he always answers back and is also on and off badly behaved at school when we try punishment by taking things away from him he throws things and swerve at us and says I want to go and live with my dad who he has sees every 2 weeks and stays over but when I say ok I will take you he says no I don’t want to go he gets very angry very quick he has had counselling at school and still dose but we don’t get to know what is said unless thay have a bad thing said we don’t find out anything

    Reply
    • Cathy (Edit) Report

      @Louise   we are raising our grandchildren also and had a lot of the same issues with our grandson, now almost 9. the school was very helpful in getting him the help he needed as we didn’t realize he has oppositional defiant disorder and ADD. put him on meds after behavior modification didn’t quite solve the problem and he is a whole different boy! still has issues, but much more manageable. don’t be afraid of meds. Get the school psychologist and social worker to help you and have regular meetings and updates, they are a Godsend. Also, the best advice I can give is to get the Total Transformation Program. Even though our grandkids were young, the program was very valuable, and we still use it. Another piece of advice, lots of love. And he needs to see it in your home between you two.

      Reply
    • Kellie Report

      @Louise Hi Louise, I work in an elementary school and work with many children like this. I most of the time find that the behavior is communication because the kids do not have the language or experience to tell you what they are feeling. They just know something is not right for them and do not know how to tell someone and therefore are acting out. It is their way of feeling in control. I do not know your family or your grandson. I can only generalize. Boys especially tend to act out when having or feeling some sort of stress. Kids I work with range in age from 5 years old to 12. Average age for major behavior change is 10 – 15 huge transitions to puberty, huge changes around friends. 
      Kids need to feel safe and loved unconditionally ( and I am positive this is something you do) However, they also need rules boundaries and to know what expectations there are surrounding the home and their family.  Example, If a child/teen knows he is to always come back home straight after school and unload his lunch kit and planner/homework binder etc.  from his back pack, and then he keeps not doing it, one day tell the child if you don’t bring me the lunch kits and planner then I will not get them and you will have no lunch and maybe even miss a field trip because you don’t  bring me the form. I will cue you for the first week and then I will hope for you to remember. IMPORTANT is follow through. Start small, loosing his device for 1 hour, first time, then 3 hours, then the whole day, then three days. If after all of that doesn’t work, then taking his device away is not important to that child. You don’t brush your teeth, you miss out on dessert the next time. At school, you don’t do your work, sometimes you have to stay in during part of gym to get it done, or you miss out going to the computer lab. The best thing is to acknowledge the child’s feelings, “I can see you are really mad because you have a frown on your face and you are yelling at me.” The child will either be listening or he/she will yell back, ” Yes of course II am mad or whatever!!!” Believe them, ” I believe you honey…”
      BE CALM… easier said then done when your child is throwing a fit or yelling and screaming. when a child is peaking he/she is not capable of rational thinking or reasoning. The child wants to be heard. paraphrase to be clear. “So you are saying that your life is unfair because Sarah was able to go to the movies with her family and you didn’t?” ” I can see how that would be upsetting” Even if the child is at the other end of the room, I will stay back and start paraphrasing and asking if he wants me to leave. Structure give kids security. Rules and boundaries can be something you set up however they can be a part of and learn that they will have a chance to earn your trust back or the privileged.

      My son was diagnosed with sever to extreme anxiety, sensory disorder and two Learning disabilities in math and written output. I too have the same Learning disabilities and now that I am older I can explain and then take a guess at what the child might be dealing with. As we all know we are individuals,  the best thing I do for my son, who is now 13 is talk. He would be calm at school but completely resistant to anything. Transitions to something new, or event changed or cancelled, to name a couple, would stress him out and he would act out. Boy would he ever 🙂

      I am learning about boundaries at home and rules, The video with Empowering Parents about how to give consequences really works. Get support for yourselves. Join a group. I go to a parenting group for teens and it is very helpful. I also know that grandparents raising their grand child, is on the rise so getting support is probably close by. Hope some of this helps 🙂

      Reply
    • m43154 (Edit) Report

      @Louise   unfortunately, children always lash out at what they feel closest to.  In your case, your grandson is reacting to having something taken away from  him in the only way he knows how.  Saying I want to go to my dad’s is hurtful to you but he does not literally mean it.  He is saying something to you to try to get a reaction= sounds like he did not get the reaction he had hoped to get and that you basically called his bluff.  Maybe consider saying to him when you say that you want to go to your dads it makes me very sad.  I know you are saying it because you are upset over something but if you would talk to me about the bad behavior or … then maybe we can work out a solution and resolve the problem before it gets to this point.  I am here for you when you want to talk.

      Reply
    • Michelle (Edit) Report

      I loved Happy Kids by Cathy Glass, it helped us to stop our child running the house with her attitude and actions. Cathy Glass has raised many foster kids so she’s seen all kinds of acting out vs. only her kids or textbook learning!

      Reply
  16. manda (Edit) Report

    I have done this over and over to the point Ihave to walk away go to my own room and close the door. She follows me and stands at my door. It has gotten very bad. Yes I understand I am the adult but how long do I allow that before I blow up.?

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      @manda 
      You are right that sometimes walking away and
      even closing the door can be easier said than done!  It’s not uncommon for
      kids to continue to follow a parent and yell when parents try to walk away to
      end a conversation or argument.  In this way, your child is trying to gain
      back control of the situation by attempting to get you to reengage in the
      argument.  By not interacting with her until she is calm, you are
      maintaining your control and communicating the message that arguing, yelling
      and screaming will not solve this for her.  Sara Bean outlines this in more
      detail in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-to-walk-away-from-a-fight-with-your-child.php. 
      Take care.

      Reply
    • Trinia (Edit) Report

      Myself I have been trying various different approaches. With my ten year old son I sometimes start tickleing him and sometimes he snaps out of it and then the fight is over.
      I’m experimenting with some other things right now too.

      Reply
  17. Tracywake (Edit) Report

    Isn’t back talk bad behavior though? What are we teaching them in other circumstances then? What about when a teacher asks them to do something and they respond with back talk? Is that ok?
    What if a boss asks them to do something, and even if they do it…. and do a good jod, but respond with a bad attitude, or even a little backtalk, then what?
    I wrestle with this issue as well, being the mom of three teenagers. I pick my battles carefully. However, I also know alot of life lessons, and how to interact with people, especially superiors, is learned at home. ….
    I’ve seen some of the other comments where their children respond with agression and profanity. THAT IS NOT OK, and I don’t think – and I HOPE this article is not suggesting it is?? There is a line. …..

    Reply
    • misswinn (Edit) Report

      Tracywake Remember you have until they are 18 to teach them the lessons they need to succeed as an adult. I wouldn’t panic unless there is something that has got entirely out of hand and you have no idea what to do…then call in the professionals for some advice. As Dawn mentions, this article is aimed at the usual sort of amount of negative attitude, WHILE STILL BEING OBEDIENT so if that’s the case, you can let go of that negative and praise them for their positive.

      Reply
  18. Charity mom (Edit) Report

    When I ask my 15 yr old son to do his chores or simply yell him “no” his back talk is very aggressive usually containing many f bombs and things like “you are a horrible mom” .I realize these words are intentionally meant to hurt me but the problem is, is that they do hurt. They cut deep.

    Reply
    • AprilStilesAvery (Edit) Report

      Charity mom I totally understand wanting to be the best Mom.  When your kid says you arent that it really hurts.  Just remember that they dont really mean that, and remember you are there to parent and if they dont like you then you are doing your job.

      Reply
    • Trinia (Edit) Report

      My youngest does this to me: tells me I’m a bad mom ect. Sometimes I look at him and in carcasm say yes dear your right I am a bad mom. Then I have a good laugh.

      Reply
    • Amy (Edit) Report

      Charity mom  Those words are meant specifically to manipulate you into changing your demands.  Although they sound hurtful, it is not really likely he feels that way, he is just trying to get you to say he doesn’t have to.  Stick to your guns, and seek satisfaction elsewhere, God loves you!

      Reply
  19. Sunny (Edit) Report

    I appreciated your article very much. However, are you saying you should ignore your child’s disrespectful attitude and words? I understand “waiting” but o am not all together comfortable in not addressing. I could be misunderstanding but appears your are encouraging “letting it go” if possible but if you want to revisit you can. Given that is my more comfortable route, would appreciate ideas on how best to approach or give consequences for their prior action.
    Thanks!!!!!

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      @Sunny  
      Thank you for your question.  I do encourage parents
      to wait until things calm down, and putting more focus on the behavior a child
      is showing.  If it is more minor forms of disrespect (such as grumbling
      under their breath, heavy sighs or eye-rolling) and your child is complying
      overall with what you told them to do, let it go and focus more on the fact
      that they are doing what is required.  If it is more severe forms of
      disrespect (such as verbal abuse, threats, swearing, intimidation) and/or your
      child is also not complying with directions, I recommend setting limits with
      your child when things calm down, and holding them accountable with
      consequences.  You might find some additional helpful information in our
      article http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-to-respond-to-disrespectful-children-and-teens.php.  Please let us know if
      you have any additional questions!

      Reply
    • Dawn (Edit) Report

      You need to re-read the article ….it says ” some” back talk!! Its saying ….you don’t have to get upset by every little thing that is mumbled out of your kids mouth!! Its only a piece of advice , not a total solution to a really bad behavioral problem!! Their not saying for you to close off everything that your kid says!! Its okay to let some small things go especially if they are actually listening , but just spouting off a bit!!

      Reply
  20. MichelleWhitney (Edit) Report

    This was very helpful. I find myself bickering over my 5 year old daufhter’s back talk more often than I like to admit. This has helped me realize, it really isn’t that serious.

    Reply
  21. yeahitzmee (Edit) Report

    What happens when it’s constant swearing and inappropriate and disrespectful language and they are still not complying?? I would say defying indtruction….

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      @yeahitzmee 
      This is a question that frequently comes up, and I’m glad
      you asked!  If your child is swearing, using inappropriate language and
      not complying with your directions, I definitely recommend setting some limits
      with your child during a calm time, and clearly communicating those
      boundaries.  Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner outline additional
      information on how to do this in their article http://www.empoweringparents.com/odd-kids-entitlement-and-verbal-abuse.php.  Thanks for
      writing in!

      Reply
  22. Vick S (Edit) Report

    Apparently, you must have been in our home this morning, because this would have worked so effectively! Thank you very much, because I am constantly responding to the backtalk and as the P Gilles Sieler reported below, ‘You know where it goes from there’, yes I do. Thanks so much. I’m going to focus on the behavior…..

    Reply
  23. KB (Edit) Report

    Hi Rebecca,
    I am seeing backtalk as a bad behaviour. I think my daughter certainly do that a lot at school with her peers – trying to out do one and another. It has become a bad habit. How can we break the cycle? Would ignoring it stop her from doing it? 

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      @KB 
      You make a good point that kids are frequently influenced by
      their friends and classmates, and it can seem like a competition at
      times.  If this is behavior that is happening at school, there may not be
      a lot that you can do to control that as pointed out in our article http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Control-Your-Kids-Outside-of-the-House.php In this
      case, I encourage you to let the school address it, and hold your daughter
      accountable if appropriate. If this type of behavior is happening while she is
      with you, then ignoring it in the moment may be the most effective course of
      action.  You can always come back later, address it with her, and hold her
      accountable if necessary. Please let us know if you have any additional questions!

      Reply
  24. P Gilles Sieler (Edit) Report

    Thanks a lot for this article. I find often that when one of my kids backtalks I respond to the backtalk, which then he responds to my rebuke, then I respond to his backtalk again, and, well, you know where it goes from there. It can escalate quickly. It is a good opportunity to teach him what “backtalking” is, as that was a new phrase for him. 
    But, like you suggest, it is much better to keep the focus on the behavior.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jane Simpson (Edit) Report

      Respect is important but my experiences in responding to back talk in the Heat of the moment ends up escalating. Most teenagers do not have the maturity to reflect on their behavior will cool down if met by zipped lips from the parent. If the teen does what was requested isn’t that the the goal. Later deal with back talk and give appropriate rewards for following directives as well as responding verbally with respect.

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