Four Ways to Respond to Back Talk & Sidestep Power Struggles

How do you respond to kid’s back talk?

Inside the Emotion Guide Collective, our peer support community, one of our members shared a genius way she responds to her child’s back talk and it got me thinking more about the connection between back talk and power struggles.

When we view back talk as rude, disrespectful, and argumentative behavior that is unacceptable and must be stopped, we create an environment for power struggles to thrive.

Here are four other ways to think about back talk and sidestep power struggles:

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Just Pick Up The Sock! What To Do When Kids Don’t Listen

It’s summer, summer, summertime! Cook-outs, pools, ice cream, vacations, fun and a break from the expectations of the school year.

Stick with me my Australian friends, even though it’s not summer for you, the topic we’re discussing is still relevant.

Summertime can be a bit loosey-goosey with more unstructured time, more time with siblings or other family members, and an increase in new experiences and new environments.

All of this can lead to the one thing that’s the opposite of a fun summer: dealing with resistance.

Resistance can look like:

I told her it was time to stop riding her scooter and asked her to put it in the garage. She rode away in the opposite direction.

I asked him to brush his teeth. He told me he did, but when I checked his toothbrush it was dry.

I asked them to stop playing minecraft or watching youtube shows. They acted like they didn’t hear me and ignored my request.

I asked him to pick up his dirty sock that was laying in the front hallway. He said it wasn’t his and didn’t move a muscle.

When things like this happen to you and the frustration and feelings of defeat rise up, are you thinking things like:

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A New Lens for Understanding Children’s Behavior

When I was a teacher, at times, kids would refuse to do their classwork. I would try everything I could think of to talk them into doing it. When they wouldn’t, I’d think of them as defiant and just trying to get their own way.

Or if it’s your child not listening instead of your student, you might be thinking that they’re being disrespectful to you.

I’d feel helpless and powerless against this child’s will.

These old thoughts would pop in my mind: you need to set boundaries, be consistent and teach them that not listening has consequences. You can’t let them get away with this behavior or they’ll keep doing it… forever.

If you were a teacher, parent or professional in this situation, how would you respond?

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