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Listen to the Back Talk, Attentively

"You know nothing about me!" "No! you don't understand!" "OK! OK! Just shut up!"

Children are angels until they first back talk. Back talk!

Congratulations! Our angels just grew their wings, immaturely, yet eager to fly with them. Time to be a "tough" and "calm" parent and teach them the proper way to use the wings by listening.

Back talk, however disrespectful and obnoxious it is in the moment, is your child’s way of learning how to assert herself. As every parent of a teen knows, adolescents often aren’t thinking things through; they’re just beginning to learn how to stand up for themselves - Janet Lehman, MSW

Parents need to engage especially to understand the children's thoughts behind the back talk. More listening and discussion can reduce the back talk and promote educational conversation.

Figuring out the reason behind the snappy comeback can make it easier to understand and resolve the issue. - What to Do When Kids Talk Back

Let's understand insights into children's back-talk period,

  1. They start forming their authentic opinion toward their surroundings.

  2. They start to form/assess/adjust their opinion.

  3. They are very confused between their opinion because it differs from others.

Due to the conflict and confusion of their newly formed opinion, hearing more aside from the already existing ones become very "noisy."

They’re just beginning to learn how to stand up for themselves, and most of the time they’re not going to do it very well. Your job is to help your child change rude behavior by teaching her how to state her viewpoint in a more respectful and appropriate way. This doesn’t mean she’ll always get her way—but she’ll eventually learn to voice her opinions without being disrespectful. - Janet Lehman, MSW

Parents should toughen up for listening and let children talk about their thoughts with as little interruption as possible. Not interrupting is the first step to teaching children to listen to other opinions respectfully. We want to play a good role model during the conversation by listening actively.

Inevitably, parents are going to hear ridiculous thoughts and ideas coming out of children's mouths. However, please be calm and listen until the end and don't correct them, but instead ask them questions respectfully. We want to discuss with children without prejudice or assumption of them being wrong. The focus here is to let your children share as much thought as they can, so they can listen to themselves.

Remembering the times when we were trying to figure out something, something about ourselves, and some things take alone time to figure out. Your family and friends are trying to provide advice, but they do not matter. As confused as you are, other people's thoughts are just noises. Thus, to block the thoughts, children back talk to stop receiving. On the other hand, they want to talk.

Therefore, we need listen and discuss without prejudice to have less back-talk and more communication.

Sometimes, hearing a rude language, we need to be smart and respond intelligently as an adult. See infographic from Dr. Venessa Lapointe for "mature" response to "immature" back talk.



Michael is an independent college counselor, counseling 8th- through 12th-grade and California Community College students. He assists students to identify strengths and weaknesses, design education paths, teach study skills, plan class selection and extra-curriculum, prepare for SAT/ACT, and college admission. Michael earned a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from UC Berkeley and a master's degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University.

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