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How To Handle Disrespectful Children

Backtalk can happen at almost any age, starting as early as when kids first begin to master their first ‘no’. However, disrespectful behaviour such as cursing, ignoring you and yelling is truly a wakeup call to parents. It’s telling you that you need to be in better control of the situation and set better limits. According to parents, the reason for disrespect lies in too much pampering, causing kids to be disrespectful. Another reason would be turning a blind eye on children’s bad behaviour.

The Reasons For Disrespectful Behaviour

So how did your child develop such behaviour? According to Dr Michele Borba, a renowned parenting expert, “Backtalk is learned, and kids will keep using it when they know it works. So never give in to kids’ disrespectful behaviour.” This means that children learn how to respond by observing and even imitating people around them. Hence, parents should model a respectful behaviour to others, especially when their kids are around.

Besides mimicking the behaviours of those around them, some of the other factors include:

  • Being frustrated by limitations and wanting to test limits.
  • Noticing that being disrespectful gets a reaction aka attention.
  • Feeling that they are being unfairly treated or are not listened to. Particularly the case with backchat or mumbled comments.
  • May also be due to grouchiness from being hungry or tired.

How To Stop The Backtalk

Although this bad behaviour is on the rise, the good news is that it is also one of the easiest things to solve. Dr Borba shares that immediate intervention is needed the second your child uses a sassy tone or word. She advises parents to use a calm and firm voice to let your child know that their action or saying was totally unacceptable. To approach the situation in a composed manner, try these examples. “That tone is disrespectful”, “You may not tell me to ‘shui up’”, or “Stop telling me that I don’t know anything; it’s disrespectful. We’ll talk when you talk right.” Alternatively, Audrey Ricker, author of ‘Backtalk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behaviour in Your Kids’, sheds light on her four-step approach to curb all that sass.

1. Recognise What Is And Isn’t Backtalk
Simply put, anything that your child says, which annoys you or makes you feel hurt or disrespected, is back talk (could be something they said, tone of voice, or a gesture like eye-rolling). Some things, however, are actually legitimate concerns that the child is raising, and if they raise it in a respectful way, it’s isn’t back talk.

2. Choose An Appropriate And Logical Consequence For The Back Talk Or Rude Behaviour
The key to this one is that consequence has to be logical and related to the back talk. Some examples are ending a playdate, not allowing the child to do something they were expecting to be able to do, not driving them to an activity they were planning to go to, or removing them from the family’s activities for a while.

3. Enact The Consequence Immediately
You basically have to carry out the consequence right away in order to get your point across. It can’t happen later because the longer the wait, the more certain your child gets that talking back is perfectly fine for you.

4. Disengage From The Back Talker And The Reaction You Are Sure To Get
You will most definitely get an angry reaction once you tell your child what the consequence of the back talk is. Do not engage no matter how hard they try to argue and plead with you. No matter what, do not change your mind or take back your consequences. Be firm and stick to your decision.

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