Dealing with back talk can be extremely frustrating and confusing at the same time. I mean, we as parents want to teach our little ones to be respectful, but at the same time, we realize that we do not see everything. There are so many times when we correct unjustly because we don't see the whole situation. We want to be just so we allow our young ones to talk back in a quick defensive manner letting us know what really went on instead of simply responding respectfully.
Is there really a way to give your child a necessary voice and teach them to be respectful at the same time? For all of us weary laden parents, there is definitely a solution that is super easy to implement and effective!
It is important to teach the first technique first so that the foundation for respect is laid. You can then build upon the framework by adding the second technique.
Expecting a Response
This is something that you should be teaching your little ones from the time they begin to talk. Whenever you give a command, they are expected to respond with a "Yes, ma'am" I am from the South, so yes, ma'am and no, ma'am are commonplace and still expected in children. But if you prefer to not take it that far, having a child respond, "Yes, mommy and Yes, Daddy" will work just fine as well.
When a child hears himself verbally agree to your command, they are more likely to obey. It is a funny psycological thing, but it works great for us parents. Another thing to keep in mind is to teach your little one to look you in the eyes when you are talking to them. This makes them pay attention to your words and they are far more likely to obey without talking back or a tantrum.
I like the illustration that Gary Ezzo, gives in his book On Becoming Childwise, that teaches you how to implement and teach this strategy. This example is found on page 125
Another reason that you want to teach your little ones to respond with a "Yes, Mom", is to very simply let you know that they did indeed hear you. One way that I teach this technique to my two year old is to give him a command and then tell him to say, "Yes, ma'am". He is still in the training phase for this, but half of the time, he remembers to say, yes, ma'am without me telling him too.
An example would be as follows. Lil A, please come put your shoes on. I need to hear a Yes, ma'am. He would then say "Yes, ma'am and come put his shoes on. It is amazing how great this simple fact works for dispelling tantrums as well.
There have been several times when my two year old tells me that he does not want to do what I told him to do. In that case, I respond the way that I learned in the book On Becoming Childwise. This is a scenario we have had recently.
"Me: Lil A, please put your toys away and come get ready for lunch".
Lil A, "I don't want to eat lunch now."
Me: "Lil A, you do not have the freedom to talk back to mommy. I need to hear a yes,ma'am mommy." or " Lil A, you do not have the freedom to make this decision. This is a mommy decision and I need to hear a yes, ma'am."
As my two year old comes into his own, he have had more of these decisions, but in all honesty, I can say that they have been growing less and less as he learns to just respond respectfully and obey.
But what do you do when you tell your child to do something and they are in the middle of doing something, are not able to perform your command, or the simple fact that they are being judged unfairly?
This happens quite a bit especially as children get older, and this is where technique number two comes into play.
May I add more information please?
As we said earlier, a lot of back talk in older children is them trying to give us information that we actually do need to judge a situation correctly or let us know that there is something conflicting with the command we gave.
Take for example, whenever you give your child something to do and they obediently set off to it only to be told by the other parent to do something else. In this situation, the child is in a conflict of which parent to obey first. It could be easily solved by giving your child the freedom to make these conflicts known.
Most time these conflicts get known in disrespectful and rude terms instead because the child is in a quandry. Instead, teach your child to respond correctly to your command and politely ask is they may add more information please?
This puts the ball back in your court. They are being completely respectful and acknowledging your authority and letting you know that they would like to tell your something that may change your mind or command.
An example of this would be. Your seven year old is playing in his room making clay figures and you call him to come down and sweep the porch. He responds, "Yes, ma'am and than asks if he can please add more information?" You say yes and he tells ask if he can put his clay away first so it doesn't dry up before he comes down to sweep the porch.
Another example would be you telling your child to please come put away the dishes. She responds, yes, ma'am and then asks to add more information please. You say yes, and she tells you that dad just sent her inside to grab him a couple of cleaning towels and ice water. You then tell her that to do what her dad says and then come back to put away the dishes.
As you can see, this simple phrase eases a lot of conflict and gives your child a voice when they need it, but yet in a respectful way. This gives them the freedom and surety to know that they can be heard when they need to be, and they don't have to talk back.
This is just one of the principles that I have learned in the book On Becoming Childwise. It is by far my favorite child training book, and what is even more awesome is that they have a book that deals with every stage of life and how to parent the heart of the child during that stage. These books are definitely a must read for any parent concerned with parenting the whole child.
What are some of your favorite parenting tips and books? I would love to hear them in the comments below!