Tammy Jacobs, L.C.S.W., provides some tips to get children to stop talking back.
Tammy Jacobs, L.C.S.W.:
I want to talk about children that talk back to their parents. What’s going on in that moment? How do I deal with this moment and how do I personally not become over-invested in my child when this is happenings? So what’s going on in that moment with that child is that child is really saying, “I need more. I want more of you, give me, give me,” but they really don’t know how to ask in a positive way or it just seems easier to get this more by talking back.
And a child doesn’t have to be really colorful when they talk back. They don’t need to scream and yell it and spit at you. All they need to really do is be like, “No, not gunna to do it,” or “No.” Just really refuse to do what you are asking them to do.
And so in that moment they are just really wanting more and you have to be very careful as a parent when you’re refusing to give any energy to negative behavior. At that time you need to tell yourself, “I refuse to help my child learn that I get a lot more when I’m being negative and in this moment is there anything that I can see that the child is doing right?”
For myself, I’ve had this happened when one of my children was really young and she would come up to me and she’d get in my face and she’d have her fists at her sides and her nose would be flaring and she would just feel like, “Aah,” whatever words would come out, and in that moment I would just not put that angry look on my face but I would try to make sure that I wasn’t showing her because you can accidentally energize negative behavior just by a simple scowl on your face and the child knows, “Gotcha, I’m getting some more here. Let’s see how much more I can get. I bet you I can take those eyebrows and make them verbal and make some words come out of their mouth, too.”
So in that moment what I would do is I would look at my child and I would tell myself, “Oh, there she is. She just really wants more of me. As a parent that wants to ignite my child’s greatness, how can I respond in this moment? How can I give her more without teaching her that she gets more when she is negative?”
The way that I did this is when she looked at me and she’s got this mad look on her face, as I looked at her, first I told myself, “I’m not going to energize the negativity and I need to give her more. How can I do this?” And I looked at her and told myself, “I see there’s greatness in here and I need to acknowledge it even in this moment,” and I told her, “I like how you’re not hitting me right now and I see how close you are to me. When you’re this close to me it really makes me want to hug you. Would you like a hug?” And she reaches out and she hugged me and in that moment she learned, “Wait a minute, I get a lot more attention and time from my mom and it feels better when it’s a positive.”
About Tammy Jacobs, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.:
Tammy Jacobs is a licensed clinical social worker and child and family therapist in Mesa, Arizona. She specializes in parenting, specifically working with difficult children and teens. Tammy's number one approach is The Nutured Heart Approach developed by Howard Glasser.