Q. How can I get my daughter to stop talking back so much?
When your daughter (or son) is back-talking or arguing with you, think of it as an opportunity for you to teach him or her a new way to respond.
If you tell your child to do something and she makes up excuses as to why she shouldn’t have to comply or says “no” to you, then she is not following your directions. It will require practice on both the part of you the parent and your child to change this pattern of behavior.
- First, identify what you want her to do (that’s called a skill), such as, “Follow directions.”
- Sit down with your child in a neutral environment during a calm time, and clearly explain your expectations.
- Take the time to demonstrate how you would like her to respond when you tell her to complete a task. This should include some sort of verbal acknowledgement, such as “Tell me what you understood I said,” and then immediately having them complete the task.
- Continue role playing by having your child give you a direction, and then demonstrate what the acceptable response looks like.
- Then switch roles and have your child practice the appropriate behavior herself as you give a direction.
- After role playing what your child should do, then give her a reason why she needs to follow your direction without arguing. Keep the reason simple and short.
- You will then want to discuss consequences for her behavior when she argues or does not follow the direction. Consistency is key. Each time she talks back, give her a consequence.
If you are in a large crowd or visitors are over at your house, don’t shout across the room at your child. Instead, pull her aside in that moment to issue the consequence. Consequences need to be immediate in order to eliminate the behavior.
Remember that negative consequences are used to eliminate a behavior, but in order to encourage appropriate behavior, you must give positive reinforcement. For example, you might say, “Good job listening to me” or “Great job taking out the garbage as soon as I asked!”
Pay attention to your child and each time she does what she is asked without arguing, praise her! Your child loves high fives, fist bumps, hugs, or a loving touch on the shoulder. Make sure you praise yourself, too, when you stay calm and are consistent in teaching your child how to follow instructions.
Remember these steps:
- Give clear directions/expectations.
- Role play how she should follow your direction.
- Give a simple reason for your expectation.
- Discuss consequences.
- Issue immediate consequences when she talks back. Be consistent with the consequences!
- Praise positive behavior.
Repeat, repeat, repeat!
It can take lots and lots of practice for you as a parent to lead your child into better behavior, but don’t give up. Keep working at it, and keep loving your child, and you should see improvement.
Each child is different, and if you feel your child’s behavior isn’t improving after some time, there could be underlying issues that need to be addressed. We can help you and your child uncover problems and reconnect. Please call us at 801-855-7999 to speak with our one of compassionate therapists who are skilled at helping children and families.
Stay in touch!
- Join us at one of our free parenting workshops.
- Attend our Adoptive Parent Support Group.
- Sign up for our wellness newsletter with tips about parenting and mental health