Does your preschooler talk back?

Unimaginable right? WRONG! Unfortunately it does happen. My boys do! Sometimes, more time than others. My parents always joke and say they got it from me. But I KNOW I wasn’t an angel..but it didn’t start when I was 3 years old!
As soon as I saw this article I thought my prayers were answered! Unfortunately the article did not have the magic potion. I’ve definitely tried the methods it offered. My oldest (5) is getting better now and understanding the wrong doing. But my youngest (3) is still just doing what he wants and back talking his what he’s into. He doesn’t want to be told what to do, when to do something. He doesn’t want to be told “No” or that he can’t do something.
Ways to control the situation:

  1. Nip it in the bud. Note when talking back and disobeying tends to occur, and try to prevent problems before they start. If your child tends to talk back only when she is hungry or tired, then try to prevent these states in your child by sticking to regular mealtimes and/or naptimes. Although your child does have to learn that she needs to be polite no matter how she feels, it will be less frustrating for you if you are dealing with fewer occurrences of disrespectful behavior, so you will be more likely to deal with those that do occur in an effective manner. 
  2. Be specific about what your child is doing that is disrespectful. Is she using a particular word or phrase, or does your concern stem from her tone of voice or body language? Young children may not yet understand how their words or behaviors are perceived by adults and simply need to be taught what is acceptable. As briefly as you can, name the behavior that you see, let your child know that it needs to stop, and tell your child what you would like to see instead.  Then return to what you were doing. Understand that it may take a few reminders before your child really learns what you expect.
  3. Be specific. Remember that the younger children are, the harder it is for them to understand broad, general statements. such as “Don’t be rude,” since they may not be aware of what makes their words or behavior “rude.” Instead, they need specifics, such as, “When I ask you to pick up your toys, you need to do it. You may not say ‘no’ when I ask you to do something.”
  4. Stay strong. Teach your child that he will not get what he wants, nor will he get any attention, when he talks back. Stay very calm, paying attention to keeping your face and voice neutral when your child responds with backtalk, and let your child know that you can continue when he is able to talk with you in a more polite way. For example, say, “I do not listen to mean words, such as… You can find me in the kitchen when you are ready to talk politely without using those words.” Then walk away. Make sure that you always respond in a similar way to backtalk. 
  5. Take action. If you feel that your child understands what is expected of her, and backtalk continues, then set a consequence. Be specific about what behavior will not be tolerated and what the consequence will be if you see that behavior again. The consequence should occur immediately and be related to the backtalk. Remind your child of the link between the two, such as saying, “When you chose to say…, then you chose to leave the park.” Do not back down, no matter what your child says or does at the point. 
  6. Look out for positive behaviors. Give your child a lot of attention for polite responses, pointing out specifically what she did that was respectful or courteous. Take care to acknowledge polite responses in situations where your child previously may have talked back or been rude. 
  7. Set boundaries. Keep in mind that while children should be given positive attention when they act politely, just because he asked for something in a polite manner does not mean that the child should get what he wants. Part of limiting backtalk is teaching your child that he is not entitled to everything he asks for, and that he needs to learn how to express anger or disappointment in a way that is not hurtful to others. 
  8. Look at your own behavior as a role model. How do you treat others when you are not able to get what you want? Do you react how you would want your child to react, either to you or to others in positions of authority? Pretend that your child is going to copy every one of your responses, in terms of words, tone of voice, and gestures, and then try to adjust your behavior accordingly.
  9. Keep it positive. Think about others that your child is exposed to, both children and adults, and try to limit your child’s interactions with those who tend to display rude behaviors. In addition, limit exposure to media that depicts children talking back to adults, especially when there are no consequences for doing so (or the consequence is the sounding of the laugh track). When you do see others talking back or being disrespectful, point out to your child the specific behavior you see and remind your child that you expect him to act in a kinder manner. 

If you’re having these same issues, what advice can you give others?

I thank for the article When Preschoolers Back Talk. It was very informative and will defintely be a guide for others and also helping me know that I’m not the only one with a kid who back talks!

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Life by Cynthia

    We won't be facing this for some time, but I'm glad that you posted this so we can prepare ourselves…Hubby & I will have to watch out for #8 – we joke around a lot and though we aren't being mean to each other he might imitate us, just thinking it's funny. Not good. We better cut it out. Awesome post!

  2. Yes, #8 is tough! Most of the time we don't realize they are listening or paying attention and we will joke or say something and before you know it…they are saying the exact thing. You have time…but time flies! =)

  3. Great post Mel! Izzy has her feet firmly planted in the terrible twos and she's not even two! I can already see that she's going to be a stubborn one. She already copied that sound I make when I don't want her to do something and does it back to me! SIGH!

  4. Katrina

    Thanks for posting this. I have three children 6, 3 1/2, and 2. Let me tell you I understand the thought of 'I don't remember being mouthy at that young of an age' when told by my parents that I was the same way. I believe if I had been, I would have lost my baby teeth long before I actually did. I may have to use some of these tactics with mine. Thanks!

    I am following from Social Moms!

  5. @Katrina Yeah, me too. Kids get away with so much these days..and learn the bad habits way too early! From what I hear from others…just wait til they get older. YIKES! I don't think "back talking or bad words" were in my vocabulary as a toddler or a Kindergartener.Thanks for the comment and thanks for following!!

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