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Backtalk: How to Handle it Effectively

Posted by Rebecca Wolfenden, 1-on-1 Coach

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 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

“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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About Rebecca Wolfenden, 1-on-1 Coach

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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