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Handling Kids' Backchat

25 May
Posted by:
Michael Grose

How do you respond to kids who answer back?

That’s a question I’m often asked. And it’s a good one as we want our kids to respect others, and we also want to raise kids to be able to speak up and speak out.

First, you need to recognise the difference between a smart alec attempt to challenge you or your authority and a genuine question or clarification. Your gut reaction will help you here. If you feel angry or like wringing your child’s neck after then this is obviously a good indicator that it’s a challenge to you or your authority – basically a power trip.

The best, but by the far, the hardest thing to do is walk away. It’s in the DNA of many people to stay and argue, rather than simply walk away from any potential dispute – more so, if the person you are looking at happens to be your child. Don’t bite back as this is often the desired effect and you will usually lose.

To put it another way – “Don’t wrestle with pigs in the mud because the pig loves it!” Be smart and choose the time and place to get your message across.

Kids don’t act in a vacuum. They don’t keep behaving in ways that don’t get a reaction. Most kids will learn eventually that it’s pointless answering back when you don’t get a response.

I do think there’s a place to encourage kids to speak up and ask questions of adults BUT they need to be able to do so in a way that’s not threatening to the other person. They also need to learn that there is a time and a place to do so appropriately. This is about being socially smart.

I’m not sure how to teach kids this. One of my daughters was an expert in being able to answer back without offending people. She used humour a great deal and always seemed to be able to push boundaries without upsetting people.
Some kids have that knack.

From my experience teenagers will often answer back three times more than primary aged kids.....and girls generally will do it more than boys. Not all teenagers are socially smart. Some lose that skill for a time.

The trick with dealing with some teenagers is to choose your battles or they will do your head in and realise that what they say much of the time they actually don’t mean.....long term. It also helps to remember to keep sentences short with teenagers – two sentences will do. Choose your time, say your piece and turn away........(& run)!

That worked for me some of the time.

Let me know what works for you?

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