Last night I was live on Facebook, and someone asked me for my thoughts regarding kids and back talk.
I fucking hate back talk.
It’s annoying and frustrating and, at times, infuriating.
It’s infuriating at those times when our kids talk to us in a way that is completely rude and disrespectful and we KNOW we have taught them better.
But have we?
We think we have.
I mean, we tell our kids to say please and thank you. To use manners. To be respectful of teachers and other adults.
But telling them what to do in the moment and modeling the behavior on a consistent basis are two different things.
Think about all the things you ask your kids to do every day.
And now, think about how you ask them to do them.
I have only just become aware of this recently.
In the mornings alone I bark dozens of commands at my kids.
Get dressed! Where are your shoes? What are you doing? GET DRESSED!!! Hurry up and eat your breakfast. What the heck are you doing? How many times do I have to tell you to get dressed?
WHY AREN’T YOU DRESSED YET??? Let’s go. Get your backpack! WHY AREN’T YOU READY TO GO YET?
CAN YOU JUST, FOR ONCE, DO SOMETHING I ASK THE FIRST TIME?
Those are just a fraction of the things I have said in the morning.
And I know I have said them repeatedly, Monday through Friday.
If you have ever let one f -bomb slip in front of your kids, you know that’s all it takes for them to feel the need to use that word multiple times a day.
So imagine how your kids are learning to communicate when you repeatedly blast them with the same orders every day.
They are mirrors.
We’ve learned this in the grocery store or in line at the bank or in church or wherever the most embarrassing situation could possibly be.
If our kids looked at us and said, “Get your behind in the car!” we’d kick their asses.
We think we have taught them better.
But there’s a good chance we actually haven’t.
There’s a good chance that’s exactly what we’ve taught them to do.
Of course there are times your kids talk back for other reasons. They could be testing you to see how far they can push things. They may be not feeling well or maybe something upsetting happened at school or they are just having a shitty day.
But when it’s a regular occurrence, chances are, you are modeling this to them without even realizing it.
Don’t talk to me that way!
How far do you think that smart mouth will take you?
This is how you talk to me after everything I do for you???
I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!!!
We very often respond to our kids talking back to us by talking back to them!
So the next time you find yourself in one of these situations where your kid is talking back, first, don’t react.
Take a deep breath.
Then, rather than reacting, try saying something along these lines:
Wow! I can see you are really upset.
If I have ever spoken to you in that way, I am really sorry. Can we start over?
I must have heard that wrong. I think you meant to say, “Mom, I’m just too lazy to put my dishes in the dishwasher!”
I love you, but when you talk disrespectfully to me I will leave the room and we can try again later.
See how that goes.
At first your kids might be like What the hell happened to Mom?
But the more conscious you are of the way you react to your kids, the more conscious you will also be of the way you speak to them.
And when that changes, then there is a good chance the back talk will present itself less and less.
Until you get to that point, well,
there’s always Franzia.
(You can also pick up a copy of Positive Discipline, where there are more suggestions to help change this irritating and exhausting behavior in your children (and you)!)