Parenting is not without its highs and lows. The highs include being able to watch your children grow and flourish into young adults, while some of the lows include  when their temper gets out of hand and less than appropriate outbursts take place. No matter what leads up to it, no parent ever likes it when their child talks back. Most of the time, many  aren’t quite sure of how to handle it. 

Avoid Escalating the Situation

When a child talks back, your first instinct may be to yell. However, this will only make the situation even worse. Yelling at your child will escalate things even further. It’s imperative to be aware of how you communicate with your children. Backtalk doesn’t come up out of the blue; it is learned. Realise the situation for what it is––your child wanting more control over their life. When communicating with them when they are in a heightened state, consider how ordering, correcting, or directing may escalate the situation. Perhaps consider walking away and re-engaging with them when the emotions have calmed down. 

Give Them the Attention They Need

A lot of the time when backtalk happens, it is a child’s cry for attention. Misbehaviour such as backtalk is used to provoke you into giving them the attention they’re looking for. While this may seem strange as an adult, to a child negative attention is better than no attention at all. However, giving them this attention from their naughty behaviour is likely to reinforce backtalking and create patterns where it may happen again. To stop this cycle from happening, give your child positive attention wherever possible. Although it can be hard with multiple children, with a bit of one-on-one time with you, they’ll get the attention they crave, and God-willing be less inclined to arc up

Allow Them to Have Some Control

Many parents feel that since you are the parent, you run the show. However, as said before, when a child backtalks they’re looking for more control over their life. A great way to remedy this as a parent is to give them a little more power over their life. This doesn’t mean letting them run around lawlessly but instead giving them more choices. For example, it may be helpful to let them choose whether they want chicken or spaghetti for dinner (of course with an appropriate warning for you to prepare). By enabling them to make age-appropriate decisions throughout the day, it may make them feel as if they have more control over their lives. This is a constant struggle as children grow up, and parents of teenagers can testify how this battle between boundaries and enabling your children to make decisions and have control escalates through puberty. 

So try to consider daily how you can give each of your children undivided attention and choices as to how the rest of their day or week may unfold. Work as a team!

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