Parents have been quite verbal recently with lots of concerns about their children’s backtalk.
This week I will talk back to those parents with some helpful information.
Backtalk is really a power-seeking and attention-getting behavior in school age kids.
This behavior is not to be confused with the toddlers who say “no” just to test out their independence and the use of that word.
If a child gets away with backtalk even once or twice, it will get progressively worse.
Does your child backtalk a lot? Here are some suggestions:
¯ Respond to the backtalk immediately but calmly. Keep your sense of humor and view this as another phase of your child’s development and not the end of the world.
¯ Set up a series of consequences that will occur each time back-talk occurs. Leave it to your child to make the right choice or suffer the consequences — such as losing a privilege, reducing their allowance, or adding extra chores that need to be done before regaining a privilege.
¯ Say something to recognize the feeling such as “I can see you are angry, but rude and disrespectful behavior like that drains me of any energy to do whatever it was that you were wanting me to do” — and then calmly walk out of the room.
¯ Model the behavior you would like to see in your children. Don’t backtalk to your children or it will just lead to them doing the same.
¯ Don’t forget to recognize their good behaviors your children demonstrate with hugs and compliments, especially when they do something you asked them to do, and they do it the first time.
¯ A great idea is to use a bedtime discussion, when your child has your undivided attention and you theirs, to discuss the fact that using backtalk hurts people’s feelings and makes them feel sad inside.
Hopefully, tips like these will be viewed as anything but rude when it comes to knowing how better to handle your child’s back talk if and when it occurs.
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Lewis First, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.