5 Steps To Put the Brakes on Backtalk


You’re not alone. You are not alone. Backtalk is one of the most common parenting complaints that I hear from the hundreds of thousands of parents I have worked with. Does knowing that backtalk is common make it less frustrating? No, of course not!

Backtalk can be frustrating and even infuriating at times. But it is a normal side effect of becoming an adult and gaining your independence.

Kids of all ages need to feel a sense of emotional power. They lash out in anger when they don’t understand why we are ordering them around and doing everything for us.

This is a classic “fight or flee” reaction. Since they can’t move into their apartment (flight), they will fight back and test limits to see if they get a response.

There are several reasons why kids speak back. It’s important to find the cause of the problem to determine the best strategy.

Give our children the personal power that they need to stop backtalk. We can encourage independence while still keeping our limits. This will help them to grow and limit backtalk, arguments, and whining.

Here are five steps to stop backtalking:

1. Give Kids Power

You can give your children some autonomy by letting them choose their clothes for toddlers or plan an activity for teenagers to do on a family trip.

When kids aren’t given the power they crave, they’ll use it in a variety of ways. They’ll fight at the dinner table or prolong bedtime. Or refuse to cooperate with the morning routine.

Kids have legitimate power in each of these situations. We can’t FORCE THEM to eat broccoli. We can’t FORCE kids to sleep in bed. We can’t force them to get up in the morning. We have no control, however much we might wish it otherwise, over what they say.

As a Positive parenting educator, I teach parents how proactive parenting is most effective in changing children’s behavior. The more power you give to them, the better.

2. Do not play a role

Parents must “own” their role in the power struggle.

You should be aware of the way you communicate with your children (and your spouse).

Parents who boss their kids around too often unknowingly contribute to power struggles and backtalk that produces backtalk.

Imagine yourself in your child’s shoes. Would you be able to hold your tongue all day if your kid told you what to do? It’s like working under a micromanager who is a boss. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and, most importantly, DEPRESSING.

You will discourage your children if you spend most of your time correcting and directing them. Spend time with your children playing, engaging, and listening to them. This will help you prevent backtalk.

You’ll be surprised at how much more cooperative and less backtalk your kids will become by engaging them more and ordering fewer things.

Take the Parent Personality Test in Step 1 if you are a member of Positive Parenting Solutions to find out how your personality affects your parenting style.

3. Pay Attention

Your children have a similar need to fill their attention basket every day as they do for power.

Children need to belong and be important. This is best met by giving your child your undivided focus. But wait before you start saying, “But I give them PLENTY of attention!” They get a LOT of Attention!” Let’s take a look at this systematically.

I encourage parents to spend at least 10 minutes a day with their children. We call it MIND BODY SOUL TIME (r) at Positive Parenting Solutions because of its incredible effect on your child’s mind, body, and soul.

For the 10 minutes of routine to meet the child’s need for Attention and to be a MIND BODY SOUL TIME (r), it must fit into the three categories below:

1. Child-centricity: The child is in charge. You’re giving your child the full run of how you spend this time. This will fill both the attention and power buckets.

You will be happy to oblige your child’s request to dress up, play a favorite game, dance to their favorite songs, read a book they love, or build a LEGO Castle.

2. The Uninterrupted Time: Leave the remote control, the calendar, and the book behind. They can all wait. Your children must receive our full Attention at this time.

Find something else that the kids can do during this time so you can spend more time with each child.

3. It’s identified and claimed: Give your 10 minutes together a name. “Mommy’s and Daniel’s special time,” or “Our Togetherness Time,” or whatever you and your partner decide. Your child will be able to recognize this time as significant by naming it.

This time is also credited to YOU in the emotional bank of your child. It may seem silly to take credit for the time you spend with your child. However, this is a way to remind your child of your consistent investment in their lives. After you’re done, say, “Wow, we had a great time together.” I’m excited to do it tomorrow !”

You’ll notice a reduction in backtalk if you invest the time upfront.

Your children will realize that everyone is on the team when you spend quality time with them.

Note: Positive Parenting Solutions’ members should refer to the first step in the online course and to the Ultimate Survival Guide – “MBST: Your secret weapon for better behavior” – to learn all there is to about this life-changing resource.

4. Refer to the Rules

Structure and routine are good for children. It may seem counterintuitive, but power struggles are more common when children don’t know what to expect. Backtalk can be a simple pushback against an expectation that isn’t clearly stated or enforced.

Consistency and stability are key to long-term success. Flexibility is sometimes necessary, but consistency will help you achieve it. Set clear expectations and consequences for children who test your rules.

It’s not necessary to be harsh or rigid, but you should stick to the limits that you set.


5. Keep your cool

Your job is to remain unimpressed as your children put on a performance that would win a Tony Award.

They score a power reward when you respond to an with “you will not talk to ME that way, young boy!”. Don’t let your kids get the satisfaction of talking back to you so that they can make you angry.

Say, “Your way of talking to me hurts me.” When I hear this tone of voice, I will walk away. You can come back to us when you respectfully speak to me.”. Then, walk away.

The next time, you don’t need to warn anyone. Just leave the room. By leaving the room, you’re sending a message that you don’t want to be involved in a power battle. When there is no one with whom to fight, there will be no fight.

Final Thoughts

With the right tools, you can eliminate backtalk in no time.

Do not be surprised if, once you have mastered the art of backtalk, you begin to see other power struggles erupt. This is why I created a parenting course to help parents deal with all of their power battles, not just the one.

If you would like to find out if Positive Parenting Solutions are right for your family, I invite you to join me for a free class. I will give you more tools to help your children listen without nagging and yelling.

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