How to deal with a backchat from your child

If your child constantly talks back to you and is disrespectful, it’s important that you take active steps to put a stop to it.

How to deal with a backchat from your child
 Remember that talking back is normal. It’s up to parents to avoid power struggles and to help children change negative behaviours.

One of the most difficult discipline challenges that parents face is how to cope with a child who constantly talks back to them. Backchat can occur at practically any age, beginning almost as soon as children learn their first words. While backchat is a typical part of growing up, it doesn’t make it easier to live with.

Talking back might be caused by several factors. It can result from a child attempting to take control over their own life, such as what they wear, eat, or do. It could be a child’s way of pushing their limits. It could also be grumpiness caused by hunger or exhaustion.

Whatever the source, parents should take early and robust action to address backchat. After all, our responsibility as parents is to teach our children how to express their wants and opinions in a courteous and constructive manner. Here are a few ways you can nip your child’s backchat in the bud once and for all!

Maintain your calm

The tone of your interactions can be defined by how you reply to your child’s retorts. Children can be very skillful at pressing their parents’ buttons. So it’s tempting to answer a five-year-old’s declaration, “You’re not the boss of me!” with a quick, “Actually, I am!”

However, if you don’t want your child to learn that exchanging barbs or engaging in a word war is a smart way to resolve a disagreement, don’t answer until you can talk calmly and clearly. Rather, take a deep breath, leave the room, or do whatever it takes to avoid escalating the situation. 

Kids imitate their parents, so it’s up to you to set a good example and show them how to act. Keep this in mind when talking with your spouse, friends, family, and strangers – little ears are frequently listening, even when you aren’t aware of it.

Determine expected behaviour

It’s critical to teach your children appropriate ways to express themselves. Make it clear that barking or yelling specific words or phrases (Yeah, rightGive me a breakFineWhatever) will not be tolerated. The same holds true for impolite behaviours such as eye-rolling, lip-smacking, or giving you the “death gaze”.

Consequences must be enforced

Overlooking disrespectful behaviour generally encourages more of the same, so you must be stern when your children sass you or use foul language. Consider an age-appropriate time-out (aim for the number of minutes equal to your child’s age), more chores, or less TV or computer time.

When imposing the punishment, remind your child of the connection between it and the backchat. For example, you could say: “When you choose to speak to me like that, you don’t get to go on the playdate.” Don’t go back on the punishment. While following through is difficult, it’s the only way kids will know you’re serious.

Watch out for triggers

Be mindful that when a child backchats, they are usually expressing anger, impatience, fear, or hurt. These outbursts and other forms of behaviour problems are more typical at times of transition, such as when there is a new baby in the house, a change in a parent’s work schedule, or something happening at school.

Your child may feel ignored or abandoned and resort to backchat in order to have some time with mom or dad. Understanding and resolving the problem can be made easier by determining the cause of the negative conduct. Similarly, keep records of instances of backchat. Is your son agitated after school or extracurricular activities? Is your daughter prone to backchat when she hasn’t had enough sleep?

Keep track of when your child responds so that you may take efforts to reduce or eliminate those triggers and avoid problems from occurring. Of course, your child must learn to be courteous regardless of how he feels, but fewer instances of backchat mean you’ll be more effective in dealing with those that do occur.

Keep an eye on what your child sees

Many TV dramas and movies feature children speaking back to adults, frequently with sarcasm and a sarcastic demeanour. While this is amusing, children should understand that emulating such behaviour is not amusing – or acceptable – in real life.

Recognise and reward good behaviour

Everyone, including children, wants to be valued. When they communicate effectively, reward them with a hug, a thank you, or a compliment. Children who receive positive reinforcement are less prone to act out to gain attention. Make sure, however, that children realise that simply asking respectfully does not guarantee that they will receive the desired result.