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Today, I am pleased to welcome Ariadne Brill of Positive Parenting Connection to my blog. Ariadne is speaking to us about loving courageously through back talk.


For many parents, “back talk” can be a big button pushing moment. When you have made a nice request and receive “back talk” like whatever, no way and you can’t make me in return it can feel extra hard to respond calmly and kindly. Being a loving presence when a child back talks may seem wrong, but really it is what a child needs in that moment: loving guidance.
One of the principles behind positive parenting is the idea that behavior is communication. Back talk or any time when behavior and communication is off, is a good clue that our children are trying to tell us something. They just happen to be having a hard time doing so, with words we wish to hear.
While back talk may be a trigger for reacting to our children, back talk really can be an opportunity to step back. We can use this moment of miscommunication as an opportunity to offer guidance, model respectful language and give unconditional love.
Offering guidance and love when a child uses back talk isn’t an excuse to allow disrespectful exchanges. Instead it is an opportunity to help your child learn to express himself in a clear yet respectful manner.
“I hear you are upset” is a loving and kind alternative to “don’t you talk to me that way young lady!”
“I’d like to hear your side of the story. I find it hard to do so if you if you say whateves and i dont care. Let’s start over.”  is a loving way to make your values clear and still invite communication.
When we change our own responses to back talk we are actively modeling the type of language we wish to hear. We also reassure our children that we are confident in their abilities to be respectful and that our parenting boundaries can be kind and clear at the same time.
How does this work in practice?
Lets say your child offers you some back talk like this: “I’m not setting the table and you cant make me!”
A loving yet confident response can be: “I hear you don’t want to set the table, you are right that I cant make you. I also trust you to complete your job, even if it’s not what you really want to do right now. There are still about 10 minutes before dinner is served, you can play for five minutes and then help, or help and then play until dinner is ready.”
Back talk can be a sign a child needs more choice, more power, encouragement or more loving guidance. Sometimes it can also just be a reflection of how they are being treated.
“Go to your room. Pick up those toys. Get moving! How many times….” Sound familiar?
Whenever I let stress seep into my life, communication might get rushed with my children and I’ll  hear more of those unhelpful phrases coming out. The minute I Infuse my interactions with more kindness and connectedness, I see my children begin doing the same!
So, to erase “you cant make me,” “no way,” “whatever,” and “you go do it” I encourage you to look at back talk as an invitation for more connection with your child. Validate their feelings “I hear you wish you didn’t have to…” and “You don’t think you can do this? Did I get that right?”  Then see it as a chance to model respectful requests. “I cant make you AND i value your help. What do you say we work together?”
Back talk is not effective or polite, so the best way to help our children to communicate in a better way, is to show them how, with loving, kind words.  

Peace & Be Well,

Ariadne Brill is the mother to three children. She has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and continues to advance her studies in child development, psychology and family counseling. Ariadne is also the founder of the Positive Parenting Connection and the author of Twelve Alternatives to Time Out: Connected Discipline Tools for Raising Cooperative Children.


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