As parents we all deal with back talk and want this behavior to stop. As the founder of Revive Family I have come to see back talk in a new light. To see it in a new light I ask myself this: “Is back talk just bad behavior or is it also a cry for help?”
When our kids reach the age of two and three, they are finally able to communicate with us. Parents begin to encounter push back in what they call the terrible twos or traumatic three’s. Our little ones tend to push back at the most inopportune times in front of family or in public places so we quickly quash this behavior! We try to silence back talk with toddlers, kids, or even teens. Can we instead use it as an amazing opportunity?
When our kids turn two and three and begin to talk back, we need to stop and consider the reality of the situation and the effect down the line. Are they being bad kids or is something else going on? What I wouldn’t do to go back and apply this with my first three children. Eric our fourth was the fortunate one.
Kids, when they first begin to talk, do not know how to communicate their deeper thoughts and feelings so they pile up and often spill out at inopportune moments. When back talk erupts, it is a sign that there is something going on within them that needs to come out. It is an opportunity to better understand and get to know them. Rather than quashing it, find joy in stopping and asking questions like:
- How are you feeling?
- What is bothering you?
- Is there something mom or I did that hurt you?
Back talk is often brought on by hurt or frustration that our kids either do not know how to bring up or fear bringing up with us. Frustration can build up until it comes out in ways that appear to be bad behavior. Quashing our kids’ innocent back talk turns the relationship into a one-way street. It communicates that we do not care, understand, or want to listen to their feelings or side of the equation. Great relationships are a two-way proposition.
This is why so many kids I work with are deathly afraid of sharing their true thoughts, hurts, and frustrations with their parents. It is also why, as they age, they continue to pop off from time to time when things build up so much, it only takes a small nudge to set them off. Even in these situations, not taking it personally and seeing it as an opportunity to help them discern their feelings and hurts that lie underneath their back talk pays huge dividends. Often it comes at the cost of having to see, admit and apologize for some of the things we have said or done that have adversely impacted our kids.
If we are to have great relationships with our kids there needs to be two way communication that leads to listening, hearing, and greater understanding. Quashing the bad behavior of back talk may cause them to believe they are heading the wrong direction and are on a one-way street with us. What they really need is for us to help them discern and communicate their thoughts, feelings and frustrations with us. When this happens, they begin to see us in a new light and draw closer.
Are you wondering how you can implement more strategies like this? Join us for our free Influential Parenting Webinar to become more tuned in to our kids.