Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kid talking back? Mine too!

My son turns 9 today. He's a loving kid, sporty and so intelligent. From time to time, he's also full of attitude and he's begun talking back.

Originally, I wondered if I was doing something terribly wrong when this behavior began. Then suddenly I realized I might be doing something right. Now, stay with me. 

He isn't allowed to disrespect his father or I. That's never okay. Now that doesn't mean we are his all-powerful parents who know everything, but in our home, mutual respect is to be expected. We talk respectfully to our children so they should too.

The thing is our son has also begun talking back as a way to challenge us. He questions me and his pop and sometimes my ego wants to flare up and proclaim "I'm the boss... do what I say because I said so... blah, blah, blah." That however isn't respectful and completely illogically. When my son talks back sometimes he's simply challenging me and his challenges can be spot on (this challenging is the doing right part I talked about above). 

He calls me on unfair situations and reminds me to be my best. I don't want to raise children who agree with me 100% of time, without their own opinion. In fact, out of fear, many children may very well "yes parents to death", but not actually agree or authentically share what they're feeling. 

At times our son isn't rightfully challenging us and he's actually bratty or combative without merit. I like to tell myself this is developmentally normal. He's asserting himself and learning to push boundaries, but he also crosses the line and completely talks back with sassiness and full on disrespectfulness/attitude. 

If you're experiencing the same, here's my best advice for other moms dealing with kids who have begun talking back...

1. Breathe 

2. Before you speak, listen

3. Reflect on self: is your child simply mimicking a behavior they've learned from the adults in their life? This is especially important because many times we are modeling negative attitudes with children who simply mirror this behavior back. When this is the case, we have to do what we can to personally correct our own behaviors.

4. If your child has a point, say so (validate your child's view), then remind them how important a respectful tone is to getting their point across. 

5. If your child is crossing the line and being disrespectful, remind them that you do not have to accept their approach and that they will not achieve anything from talking back rudely. I know, I know... easier said than done, but if anything, this models appropriate boundary building and gives them the example for how to defend themselves when others approach them rudely.

6. Never laugh or encourage this behavior when it's directed towards others.

7. Praise your child when their tone is appropriate and always, always, always remind them that their voice, vote, and/or opinion counts.

8. Fully accept when your child is challenging you and they have a valid point. Sometimes our children are calling us out on our own BS and they deserve validation.

9. Don't beat yourself up about it. Stay the course and work through this sassy stage in your child's life. Feeling bad or guilty about it won't help. Letting the behavior go on unchecked also does nothing for the situation. So again, stay the course and work with your child on improving healthy communication among parent and child. 

These are just some tips from a mom who's now got a 9 year old going on 20.

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