I know that the title is going to throw you off a bit but stay with me for the entirety of this article. I have a point to make, and well, I believe it a pretty valid point. Today I’m going to talk about how to teach your child to talk back.
Isn’t talking back disrespectful?
Are you telling me to let my child disrespect me?
Well, I don’t feel that’s what I’m trying to say.
Is Talking back Disrespectful?
While the term talking back is generally applied to a situation where someone is talking at you. This means your child is yelling or using a negative tone to tell you something. This could totally be done in a disrespectful manner, of course. I’m about to say that I don’t feel talking back is disrespectful. Not if it’s done properly. Talking back is something that every child will try at some point in their life unless you run such a tight ship that your child doesn’t dare advocate for themselves. I can’t help you there, I’ve never believed in running such a tight ship that my children couldn’t speak up for what they believed, felt, and needed to say.
A Little Back Story
Hi, my name is Brandy and I have three children. These children are 11, 13, and 17 at the time I’m writing this. Each of my children have very different personalities. My oldest was raised to advocate for herself and had a safe space in the house where she felt comfortable speaking up. My middle child was diagnosed as high functioning autistic when he was about eight years old, he’s more of a logical child with big emotions when he feels them. My youngest child has a huge heart, like his brother, but is more vocal about everything. Let’s just say all three of my children fit into a very stereotypical birth order definition, with the middle child fitting both into the middle and firstborn birth order stereotypes.
I knew that one thing I felt I couldn’t do when I was a child, or even in my younger adult years, was to speak up for myself. I was afraid to hurt people’s feelings. I am a firstborn who’s spent most of my life being a people pleaser. As a mother, I knew that I always wanted my children to feel comfortable and confident to talk back whenever something didn’t seem right to them and to become whoever they want to be. One is almost an adult, and I think it’s gone pretty well.
How do you respond to a teenager’s attitude?
Now, once you get to the teenage years you’ll quickly find that your child has found their voice. They will speak up loud and clear. They will be quite literally talking back to you. The rules will be stupid. You will not understand them. They will have the push and pull to be independent all the while still needing you. My biggest learning lesson I’m going through now is to figure out the best way to get my new teen, the middle child, to see that his parents care a lot about how he feels and we’re open to discussions about rules that he feels are “baby rules” or whatnot, but he will have a consequence if a rule is broken.
I’ve found the key to responding to a teenager’s attitude is to keep it light while finding a place of empathy. You were a teenager too, remember how it felt. That’s a scary time. You’re getting older, and you’re scared. You’re getting older, and you’re excited. Combine these conflicting feelings with hormone changes, friendship changes, and other things that happen during the teenager years and you’ve got a recipe for destruction.
Encouraging your Child to Talk Back, Appropriately
Depending on your child’s maturity level, you can work with them to teach them to talk back without being completely disrespectful. Some of the ways we’ve worked to keep the house an open communication home that encourages children to self-advocate include:
- Having one meal together at the table, without electronics, asking questions and talking to the children as if they’re equals.
- Notice when a child feels off or is acting out of character, and then pull them aside without their siblings near to see if they have something to talk about.
- Be firm when your child is disrespectful about talking back. Stick to your consequences set when a rule is broken, but take time to open a dialogue about what’s going on to cause that behavior.
- Give your child lots of hugs! A 20-second hug can relax a human being. I will literally grab one of my children and hold them for a 20-second hug, admittedly my middle child on the spectrum doesn’t care for hugs, but he’s embraced them (tolerated) as he’s grown older.
- Remember that you’re in charge, so yes you set the rules, but your children may have valid points to share as to why a rule should be changed as they get older.
- Always have an open mind when our children speak. It truly is a different world they’re growing up in.
- Take into consideration that each child has their own perspective of experiences, situations, and rules. Be sure to keep an open mind and hear your child all the way through without interrupting them.
At the end of the day, I’ve found being open to hearing my children can change their whole world. Your child is going to have to go out there in the real world and speak up for themselves. The safest place to help your child practice talking back is at home. You love them without conditions, and you can work to set consequences to keep that talk back in check all the while giving them tips to adjust how they handled themselves during that particular situation.
Your children only talk back because they have an issue with something. Whether you feel that issue is silly or irrelevant because you’re the boss doesn’t matter. It’s time to start working with your children to help them learn how to talk back so that they can learn healthy self-advocating skills for their adulthood. The last thing any parent wants is to set their child out into the world being a people pleaser adult, trust me. I’ve wasted so much of my life being a people pleaser, and I’m glad to be working to get to the other side.
Through the act of raising my trio, I’m learning how to self-advocate better than ever before. I’m hoping that we’re both learning a little something on this journey and that all three will go out into the real world confident to speak up, talk back and stand firm for who they are and what matters most to them.