When Your Child Talks Back: The Constructive Communication Approach

You ask your kid to quit playing video games because it’s time for some homework and he answers back with “whatever.” Does this attitude mean you have shortcomings as a parent?

Not necessarily. There are many reasons that influence this attitude. Sometimes, kids test boundaries to check what they can get away with. They may also do this to get attention because talking back guarantees a parent’s attention. Whatever the reasons may be, it is realistically difficult not to reply angrily. But there are, of course, wise course of actions to take that disable us to give in to our kid’s disrespectful attitude.

Watch your language and model values

If there is one thing we often hear about raising kids, that is “everything starts at home.” As a parent, it is critical to monitor your own language in dealing with your child especially when you feel like yelling or criticizing. When this is about to happen, bite your tongue and breathe deeply. Remember that your action models something to your child. If you don’t want to breed an ill-mannered kid, then don’t behave like one.

In a parenting article posted on SingaporesChild.com, Dr. Borba suggests that intervention is highly needed the moment the child displays rude tone of voice or choice of words.  This can be done by allowing your child to be aware of this as you speak in a firm yet calm voice, “Let’s speak when you speak right.”

Build emotional bank with your child

Take advantage of every opportunity that you can positively connect with your child. This can involve knowing and learning what hobbies or activities interests your child, and you can start from there. You may want to invite your kid to join a workshop together or visit his favorite theme park.

Express your willingness to show that you aren’t just there to punish them when they’ve done something wrong, but you’re also someone whom they can always count on. Children think twice in hurting the feelings of their parents when they feel appreciated, loved and connected to. Always see to it to spend at least 20 minutes with you kid every day while giving them positive reinforcement and attention.

Calmly approach your child’s behavior and set clear expectations

It might be a sarcastic answer or tone of voice that hurt you but do not level your response with the same approach. “I know that you are upset at the moment. I feel how much you need me to approve of what you’re asking, but let’s talk about this when we are both calmer.”

This way, we teach our children about building a respectful conversation with another person. When kids disrespect and parents ignore it, they are given no favors. If parents respond with the same disrespectfulness, it is validating the rude behavior. In short, they take it from us.

It’s imperative to discuss and explain that there are behaviors which are off-limits. If you are not pleased with your child’s sarcastic remarks, clear that out. “It is disrespectful when I talk to you and you answer that way. Please refrain from doing that.”

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