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“I’m sick and tired of my kids’ mouthing off at me. How can I control my kids’ backtalk?” ~ Michael, Nashville, TN

Backtalk is certainly something you don’t want to hear from your kids. It’s a surefire way to push most parents’ buttons!

But can you control your children’s backtalk? I don’t think so. They ultimately control what words come out of their mouths. However, you can control your reaction to whatever they say. How you react will increase or decrease the likelihood that they will use backtalk in the future.

For example, when your child uses backtalk, you might say, “I’ll be happy to continue this conversation when you are speaking with respect” and then walk away. This gives everyone a chance to cool down. You are also communicating that you won’t stick around if they are using backtalk.

What if you’ve asked your child to feed the dog and he responds “Why do I have to do all the work around here?!” You might respond by saying, “Thank you for feeding the dog,” and walking away.

What you want to avoid is taking the bait by answering the backtalk with something like “I do most of the work around here. All I ask you to do is a simple thing like feed the dog and you just complain.” If you take the bait, you’re entering an argument — and that will only encourage more backtalk in the future.

Kathy Slattengren

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Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., has helped thousands of parents from across the United States to Australia through her online classes, presentations, coaching and books. Parents excitedly report their success in replacing yelling and threatening with calm, confident responses. When your children’s behavior is really pushing your buttons, discover ways to set effective limits, invite cooperation and have a lot more fun together!

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