One of the most frequent issues parents face with a child is back-talk. It can be frustrating, embarrassing, and can test even the most patient parents! So what can be done?
- First, understand that children of different ages use strong language for various reasons.
- Second, remember when children talk back oftentimes it may be a result of another issue they may be facing. The goal for parents is to help our children define the real issue, then help them learn to express it constructively.
- If we model screaming and shouting, that’s what we’ll get in return.
School-Age: “It’s not fair!”
- By the time children are five or six years old they have the ability to understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior and why. They also have the ability to manipulate and love to get in the last word! This is also the beginning of intense peer relationships and they care more about what their friends think than their parents. Some of the most common phrases that school-age children use are, “But, that’s not fair!” and “Everyone else’s mom let’s them!” Don’t fall into this trap or allow them to bait you into losing your cool. Let your child know that you understand their position but if they continue to argue and use a disrespectful tone they will have to go to their room until they can calm down and talk with you rationally. Set your limits and stick to them. Limits help children develop inner control- the ultimate goal!
Preteens: “What’s the big deal?”
- Instead of taking responsibility, this age group often puts parents on the defensive. Parents will frequently hear, “What are YOU getting so bent out of shape about?” or “I was just..or maybe, “What’s YOUR problem?” During this stage it is important that parents teach their preteens to take ownership of the problem. Try not to attack or blame. State your feelings in concrete terms and use restraint and respect. Try, “When you (forget to call, borrow my things without asking, or complain constantly), I feel....”
Teens: “Leave me alone! Get off my case!”
- Teens think differently than adults! If your teen says he needs some space, try to give it to him. If the subject is a volatile one, you might try writing him a note or email instead of direct confrontation. Listen to what he has to say and let him know that even if you disagree, you want what you think is best for him. Remember, you are the authority in your house and you set the limits.
No matter how hard you try, you cannot avoid disagreements with your children, but you can learn how to fight fair. Following is a list
of suggestions that each family member should adhere to during an argument:
- Don’t attack.
- Don’t belittle or make fun of the other person.
- Never use shame as a tool for guilt.
- State clearly what the problem is.
- Work towards finding solutions together.
- Figure out what can be done to prevent the problem in the future.