DEALING EFFECTIVELY WITH BACK TALK
While educating children, all parents deal with back talk at some point. From eye-rolling to whining, to simply ignoring you or arguing, your child uses backtalk as a way to show her independence and her need of having a strong sense of power on an emotional level. Our first reaction is to snap back by saying “You’ll do it because I said so.” Or “Don’t you dare talk to me that way!” However, this type of replies does not work and may actually worsen the situation. Instead, try the following tips:
1. Give your child some power. At all ages, children need to feel that they have some power over their world. For a toddler, it may mean to let her pick up her outfit for the day. For a teenager, it could be for her to decide where to go on vacation among a few options. The more positive power you give to your child, the less she will try to get it in negative ways.
2. Reevaluate your role. Oftentimes, parents may unknowingly contribute to the power struggles by bossing their child around too much. So, think about your attitude toward your child and you might find that you could limit ordering, correcting, and directing them. Instead, find alternative ways to get cooperation. For instance, decide together what your child’s chores should be and write them down on a chart so that everyone can refer to it. So, when it is time to do the dishes and your child whines about it, remind her of the chart she agreed on.
3. Give your focused attention. Your child needs your undivided attention every day. If she does not get it positively, she will find another way to get it. So, spend 10 to 15 minutes daily of uninterrupted time to get into your child’s world.
4. Set firm and clear boundaries. If your child does not respect the house rules, then remind her of them. State clear consequences, and apply them if necessary. Sticking with the limits put in place help your child feel safe emotionally.
5. Defuse the power struggle by stating how you feel and what your expectations are. For example, say "I feel hurt by the way you are talking to me. When I hear that tone of voice, I am walking away. We can talk again when you can speak respectfully to me."
Following these 5 tips should help reduce the amount of backtalk you hear from your child.
PARENTING RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR
New Year’s resolutions in parenting may have an impact on the whole family life. Putting your effort into meaningful goals that will benefit your household can have a profound effect on family relationships, organization, and teamwork.
Here are a few resolutions you can implement:
1. Be there for your child. Choose to spend quality time with each child on one-on one every day. Listen to your child, respond, do not get distracted by your phone or your own agenda. Give her what she needs the most: your undivided attention. Spending just 10 to 15 minutes per day of uninterrupted time promotes emotional connection, reduces unwanted behaviors, and makes children more cooperative and responsive.
2. Improve routines. The New Year might be an opportunity to revisit morning, after school, and bedtime routines. One way to improve the routines is to use the method called “When – Then”. First, your child needs to do an often undesirable, but necessary activity before doing something she enjoys. For instance, tell her “When your bed is made, then it is time for your breakfast” or “When your homework is done and your backpack is ready for tomorrow, then you can go out and play with your friends.” The new routines can be posted in strategic places, so your child will remember them, and you will not have to remind them.
3. Get everyone engaged in chores. Each child should be required to do age-appropriate responsibilities around the house that contribute to the family’s daily life. Make a list of chores and decide together how to divide the weekly workload among all family members.
4. Start a weekly ritual that the whole family will enjoy. For instance, watch a family movie together once a week. You may want to share with your children the movies you loved when you were younger. Another option is to have a game night. Take turns to pick up the game you play. Outdoor activities can also be enjoyable: train for a 5K together or aim to complete a particular hike in your area.
A few changes can make the New Year brighter for everyone and positive effects may last a lifetime.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.