How To Stop Kids From Talking Back!

By April Tisher

We have all seen them. Teens talking back to their parents with rolling eyes and a rude disposition and think to ourselves, “I would never allow my child to behave that way.” It’s hard to imagine our sweet little babies with their cherub cheeks ever giving us back talk like that, now or when they get older. They are so eager to please when they first begin to communicate; until they aren’t. Two year olds are notoriously known for their terribleness; still we are often shocked the first time they talk back to us.

It can be a simple request previously complied with no hesitation that changes the game. “Let’s go put on our shoes” or “Come sit at the table for lunch” that is met with the first “No.” We may even laugh at first; it is kind of funny and cute coming from this precious little human. I can remember being completely caught off guard by my blonde hair blue eyed chubby cheeked little boy when he said “No, I not” the first time. He was always opinionated; maybe he was just learning to speak up for himself. However, it was talk back non-the less. So, how should we handle the back talk? explains that “Children are not intentionally being mean or trying to hurt your feelings, but they are trying to determine which of their behaviors provokes a reaction from you.” Toddlers are constantly trying to test the waters to see what they can do and what they cannot get away with. Control is key to toddlers; they are just beginning to have some autonomy in their lives and will push the limits on just about everything. Much like other unwanted behaviors, the key to stopping back talk in its tracks is to stop it right away, before it becomes a habit. Once they’ve gotten away with it, or worse, gotten some sort of positive attention for it, you can be assured you will see more talking back in the future.

Back talk is the number one complaint Amy McCready, author of “Positive Parenting Solutions”, says she has from parents, if you are experiencing it, have no fear. You are far from alone. Still it is an unwanted behavior that once established will become much worse over time. Like most struggles with raising children it boils down to a power struggle. You don’t have to yell or get upset to keep talking back at bay. Just try to remain calm and stick to your rules. Complacency in enforcing your expectations or being unreliable in doing so will only allow the back talk to get out of hand fast!

“Positive Parenting Solutions” 5-STEP PROCESS in dealing with back talk:


Allow them to have some control over the things they can; give them choices about what to eat for a snack or let them choose their clothes for the day.


Resist the urge to react in anger. If there is no one to argue with, it’s over.


Pay child driven, non-distracted, engaged attention.


Have clear expectations and stick to them.


Just getting upset gives the unwanted behavior attention.