31 answers

I Need Help with My Seven Year Old Son and Back Talk.

My son is typically a really good kid. He helps (most of the time)when asked to do simple things and plays wonderfully with his little sister. My problem is that lately he is the master of disrespectful back talk when I tell him it's time to get ready for school, or turn off his computer game etc. It's gotten to the point that when I come down in the morning (on school days) I'm now greeted with "NO! I'm not getting ready for school!!" before I've even had time to say good morning. It's happening whenever he's told it's time to begin stopping an activity and move onto a responsibility. I would never think to talk to him with such disrespect, but he seems to think it's an appropriate way to speak to his mother. I feel I'm good at sticking to my ground and not giving in, and then I have to deal with "looks" from him that are filled with such anger and what seems like hatred it really gets me mad and then I do raise my voice.
I want the discipline to fit the "crime" and for him to stop the behavior because he sees that it's wrong and not just because he'll lose something he loves, but I'm at a loss as to the best way to teach him that this is simply not the way it's going to be.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Thanks
W.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I have a suggestion I haven't seen so far. My 7 yo is in the same phase, and it is really hard not to react. We've found she rarely responds that way to my husband, so when he hears it he will tell her" You will not speak to my wife that way!" sometimes mom=slave in their minds for some strange reason!! We use many of the other strategies mentioned below. Usually a firm what did you say?" is enough. However, I have also noticed I get a lot less lip when I for the need in a statement instead of a question ie: It's time to get dressed vs. will you get dressed please? I hope that helps. Keep it up. They tell me this too shall pass!!

1 mom found this helpful

I am having the same problem with my son who is 9 years old. He loves to play video games on the computer. When he has to stop to eat dinner or get ready to go out, he gets angry. I also raise my voice because growing up I couldn't whistle in my home because my parents and grandparents would think it was rude behavior. I can't stand the mean looks from my son and don't want this anger to follow him throughtout life. I would love to know what to do myself. I know that staying calm works best, but this is very hard. Also taking away the game or putting him on punishment works as well. I am looking forward to more responses.
D.

Try, Parenting with Love And Logic (Kline and Foster)and loveandlogic.com. It will help now and throughout the teens years too.

More Answers

Hi W.,
I suggest you read 1-2-3 Magic. It helped bring peace to our house.
D.

1 mom found this helpful

I feel your pain. My 6 and a half year old daughter is the same way. I'm a broken record: "In this house, we are kind to each other. I am waiting to hear your kind words." And I wait for her to speak in kind voice, a sincere voice. I find if I can manage to stay calm and keep my own emotions in check (hard!) it all goes much better. LIKE I HAVE TO BE KIND TOO. :) I often need to clarify the difference between using discipline and being a "mean mommy".

I also find the preemptive approach helpful. "Yes, you may play dress-up before dinner if you can promise when I say it is time to clean up and help with setting the table you will do so quickly and with a good attitude."

And if this doesn't work and she's sassy anyway, I calmly say that I'm very sorry but there will be no story at bedtime. "You must be too tired or you wouldn't be behaving this way. You usually have such golden manners." And I stick by it, that really clears things up for a couple of days.

Humor is effective... it can catch them off guard when they are grouchy and put things right quickly as in "Hey whoa, who are you and what have you done with my beautiful, kind child? I must find her (grabbing and shaking her) alright, where is she...have you stuffed her in a closet?" "Mom! MOM! it's me!" "Don't lie to me, have you fed her to a dragon...!" ETC.

Acting whacky lets off steam for me and often diffuses a tired, common and trying issue like sassy behavior. I get sick of hearing myself sometimes, you know?

Remember you are fighting the good fight and it's worth it!

1 mom found this helpful

I get similar lip from my six year old daughter. I find it sometimes helps to appeal to her empathy to "shock" her out of her angry, defiant outbursts. i.e.: "It really hurts my feelings when you shout at me that way" or "How do you think you would feel if I got so angry about making your supper because I wanted to _______?(fill in the blank with something your child knows you like to do). We all have responsibilities to make our family work, even when we'd rather be doing something else. Right now, yours is such and such...

Obviously, you don't want to cripple the child with guilt, but depending on where your son is developmentally, you may be able to show him how unfair and stressful to you his behavior is. I know my daughter often surprises me with her ability to comprehend the complexity of feelings, and cause-and-effect of people's behavior on relationships.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with many of you; there is a time for fun games or videos.I am straight forward and up front with my 11 and 8 year olds about what is expected at certain times during the week. School/ work days are scheduled and routine. Also a great opportunuity to; focus on chores that my have been skipped; extra reading time; or healthy balanced breakfasts w/ child participation. Very important. As is have times of fun and freedom to choose what to do.
Also, I have had success with "fighting the backtalk" by clearly stating to them when it occurs, " The way you are speaking to me is inappropriate." " We can continue discussing your point when you can speak to me respectfully. In the meantime, I need you to get ready for school."
I'm not saying that its a one time fix. But they do learn that my response will be the same. They now recognize when they do "back talk" and when it is done to them. Important communication skills we all can learn from.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a six year old son (7 in July). I understand the back talk you re talking about. If this helps. First thing in the morning and prior to doing anything, I remind my son what is expected with his behavior. I also tll him what the consequenses are (lose tv, go to bed right after dinner, etc).
I also will say sometime, "surely you did not mean to say that to mom/talk like that to mom, pleas go to your room and come back out to talk to me when you can speak nicely" We also have a fun thing that helps Did you forget to take you manners/kind words out of your pocket? Please pull them out and use them.
Hope this is helpful.

S.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a suggestion I haven't seen so far. My 7 yo is in the same phase, and it is really hard not to react. We've found she rarely responds that way to my husband, so when he hears it he will tell her" You will not speak to my wife that way!" sometimes mom=slave in their minds for some strange reason!! We use many of the other strategies mentioned below. Usually a firm what did you say?" is enough. However, I have also noticed I get a lot less lip when I for the need in a statement instead of a question ie: It's time to get dressed vs. will you get dressed please? I hope that helps. Keep it up. They tell me this too shall pass!!

1 mom found this helpful

Oh my, sounds like my son has a twin! He was just like that at 7, now he's a pretty darn good 11, almost 12 year old, though we still have a moment now and then. The biggest issue with my guy was that he gets so into what he wants to be doing that stopping and moving on to something else, less preferred especially, is very hard and that's when we get the attitude, anger and back talk. This was particularly bad with the computer and less often, but also with the TV. We now have (and have for about 2 years now) a 30 minute week day and 1 hour or 1 movie weekend TV rule. Took some getting used to but they are both (my daughter too) very choosy about what they watch since they each only get to choose 1 show per day, and they do many other things. Knowing that there is a strict set limit helps with the transitions. We also started giving him time warnings. For instance - "in 10 minutes we're going to..." and again at 5 and 2 minutes (like an early warning system). That helped alot and if there was any back talk at that time, the change happened immediately. We established some general rules for the house too. We sat down and had a "family meeting" everyone had input and talked about what good rules would be and what would happen when the rules were broken. The kids were surprisingly realistic and understanding about how that works. We talked about how it makes us feel when someone is mean, rude, disrespectful and how it feels to be treated well and nicely. we also talked about how Mom and Dad have lots of responsibilities and what they were so that it really helped them to understand that they need to keep up their end of the bargain too!
We have periodic, bi-weekly family meetings, more often if there are "issues" to discuss. If, as you noted, you are good at sticking to things, set a schedule with your son, not for him, agree on what is acceptable and what isn't and stick to the consequences and I'll bet that in a few weeks time you'll see a big difference. We did! Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I have been there and I think he is just trying to see how far he can push you. It is very normal. My son also has ADHD and I have to really make sure I stic to my guns. No waving a tiny bit. He needs to have strick rules and finality. I find there is NO video games, TV, comuter...anything before schol what so ever. Then it seemed to go easier that way. The venom looks, I stearnly say, "get that look off your face now or there will be consiquences." and there will be if it doesn't change. It wont come over night but it takes sticking to it and waiting it out a bit. When my son sees other Moms who give in like at the store he tries to act up. I have litterally told him, You know it doesn't work with me and you will only end up miserable if your attitude doesn't change fast. It works really good if he o longer "sees" the other situation unfolding also. So stick to your guns, maybe talk about it when he's calm and let him know what is going to happen and what is expected. That works well with my DS.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi W.,

I have three boys ages 12, 9 and 6. A few years ago I was having similar issues, especially in the morning before school. I decided to ban all screen time in the morning, including TV, computer, hand held electronics. The change in how smoothly our exit to school has been since then is awesome. It is a rule that has stuck, noone even tries to challenge it anymore. We have more conversation, more peace and more respectful behavior. The issues always change but repeatedly reinforcing that your ears hurt when he speaks to you in a disrespectful way and that it takes away from the energy you have to do the things that are important to him will hopefully have a major positive impact on the problem! Good luck!
S.

1 mom found this helpful

W.,

There are a series of books that are titled "Your 7 year old" , "Your five year old" Worth picking up to nip all these behaviors in the bud. Better prepared than caught like a deer in headlights. I have honestly been flabbergasted when my kids start some crazy behavior and I have no idea how to stop it.

I can only tell you to stay calm. The more upset you get the more he will do it. Calmly tell him to take a seat and explain to him why his back talk is not okay. Then let him know that it will not be tolerated. If he back talks again he will be punished. What is effective with one child is not always with another. I require my son to handle a chore that may take a couple minutes then when it is done we review. Whatever you do never use sarcasm with him. It confuses the child and creates a way of communicating that does not work both ways. What ends up happening you will find it disrespectful when he uses sarcasm/back talk with you. Finally if he back talks in front of company. His friends go home and we have a short talk and he is put to a chore. Than we review. If your in public stop and address it that moment. Quietly and swiftly. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like he is testing his boundaries. calling a family meeting with you your significant other and daugther and reviewing the ground rules and what expectations are to be met and what punishments and rewards will be given for behavior. because with every good behavior their should be rewards too. ie spending extra special time with you or your significant other. look at also what is going on in his life is he having problems with his friends or being bullied??? sometimes changes in behavior can mean he is trying to get your attention.K.

My suggestion is to first let him know in advance (maybe 10 mins.) that it will be time to stop the fun thing (game etc.) then let him know again at 5 mins. etc. until it's the time to move on. If he refuses to put it or stop doing the fun thing when it's time, warn him if he doesn't the thing he is enjoying will be taken away for a week (or whatever amount of time you feel is fair) and do follow through with what you say you are going to do. I think it may take a few times for him to realize you mean business but will soon see that you are not messing around and the back talk should certainly decrease. Good luck. Let us know how everything goes.

Hi W...........Oh for the joys of parenthood. Sometimes we want to just put the hood over our heads and scream :<)
Two things I'd like to address with you, if I could: 1: does your son watch any shows that the children put down the parents " talk back, make fun of, etc. ? 2: what are you basing your parenting skills on??
I'm an almost 60 year old grammy of 6 grand children and two daughters. I gave a book to both my daughters and they both wished they had them before their children were born. It's called: " THE NEW STRONG WILLED CHILD " by James Dobson. I have also given this book to new and older moms I know and we all have the same response. Finally someone who looks @ children through loving eyes and responds instead of reacts. It's the best of the best for parenting and he has many other books and knows of authors that could help you.
The ministry show aired on radio is called " Focus on the Family " and all issues are addressed. Maybe you could see is you have a listing for it in your area. I've been listening to him for over 18 years now. He wrote " the strong willed child : about 27 years ago and his new one about 2 years ago.
Don's forget one thing W.. Keep on Keepin' on. They will grow out of these stages and unfortunaltely onto newer ones. The more they know who the authority is in the home the more harmony you will experience sooner or last. You're gonna make it just stay the course honey,
Lovingly, P.

I am having the same problem with my son who is 9 years old. He loves to play video games on the computer. When he has to stop to eat dinner or get ready to go out, he gets angry. I also raise my voice because growing up I couldn't whistle in my home because my parents and grandparents would think it was rude behavior. I can't stand the mean looks from my son and don't want this anger to follow him throughtout life. I would love to know what to do myself. I know that staying calm works best, but this is very hard. Also taking away the game or putting him on punishment works as well. I am looking forward to more responses.
D.

Hi W.!
I am actually it then the same boat with my 6yr old daughter.At times my heart is broken because I feel as if I am always doing for her just so she will be happy.I also have a 2yr old
who does not have a care in the world right now but at times she will have some of the same behavior as my oldest.I have talked with my 6 yr. old about the negative tone she has had but she seems to get annoyed.At this time I am really trying to stay consistant with time-outs and loosing special privelages such as tv, computer, going with friends this is tough and burns her even more but seems to have worked.Do not give up the structure just because it seems easier I really feel as if these "high needs" kids need it.I am looking forward to reading some of your responses.Thanks and good luck!

W..

after reading the other responses i erased mine, but see if there is a reason why he does not want to go to school.

but like some of the other gals said

i would just turn the tv off, its a earned time for giving respect. and i would have a spot to put those video games in the evening so you can dole them out with good behavior. if you do this for about 1months time you will see a difference.

Try, Parenting with Love And Logic (Kline and Foster)and loveandlogic.com. It will help now and throughout the teens years too.

hi
My pedi. says to talk like Clint Eastwood. Also when my 7 yr old daughter acts up he suggested to get the blood suger up with OJ or peanut butter. Unfortunately it seems to be an age thing as many I've talked to go through the same thing. Stick to your guns and hopefully he'll get the picture soon.
good luck

The Nurtured Heart Approach might be a useful tool. From their perspective, your son is not getting something that he needs and so by speaking to you in such a disrespectful way he is hoping to get some kind of reaction from you that will meet his needs.

It is a very powerful method of parenting. A woman named Gabrielli La Chiara teaches 4 week classes every quarter in the Amherst area. You can find her through the internet. I think her website is www.gabrielli.org

Good luck-
Mara

This is typical behavior, and it's really hard to look at hate-filled looks and not react, either with anger or with hurt feelings. When my son didn't want to go to school on time, I said that was okay but we would need to go to the principal's office to explain why he didn't think it was important. I told him that the law requires him to go and that he really didn't want to be dealing with truant officers (I called them the police). I didn't say it in a threatening or punitive way, just that it was something I couldn't control and that the powers that be would take over. That took care of it.

Take away the computer game if he continues with the back talk. Tell him it's for big boys who know how to respect people, rules and expensive computers. Tell him he can't use it until he is dressed and ready for school, or that he can't use it at all in the morning, whatever will work best for you.

If it's just a transition thing, give him a 5 minute head's-up that it will be time soon, set a timer, or some other device. I have a kitchen timer that goes off at 10 minutes and then 5 minutes with a quick beep, and then an incessant beeping when it is done. Put it up where he can't reach it himself, or in another room where he has to get up to go turn if off. If the computer doesn't get turned off, then take it away completely until he earns it back. He won't see his behavior as "wrong" at this age - just as not productive to getting what he wants. That's okay. You still get the behavior you want and deserve, and eventually he will internalize the good behavior. If you can avoid getting angry so that he doesn't get ANY attention when he behaves badly, there will be no pay off for him.

If it makes you feel any better, I have 4 children and found that 7 is the year that back talk and eye rolling happens. And the good news is that it does go away..... for awhile, then returns through the cycle of growing up.

I used to just take privleges away from my kids, like no computer, no video games, whatever seemed to hurt the most. I think your point of not talking to him like that needs to be mentioned and how hurtful it is to you, but the bottom line is that it does come with being 7.

Good luck.

Hi W.,

I'm not a therapist or counselor, but it sounds a little bit like something called "explosive anger disorder." I'm familiar with it through my nieces and my own daughter shows tendencies.

Kids with this type of disorder get extremely angry, have major meltdowns and outbursts, and generally take it out on their parents. (My nieces never exhibit this type of behavior in school for example.)

They have major difficulty transitioning, especially when they're doing what they want to do. They are also very angry when they feel like they have no say in anything, no input into what's being said.

The best way to handle this to give them warnings when you're going to transition: In 10 minutes you're going to have to put that away because we're leaving, but I'll give you another warning in five minutes; and also give them choices. Like with my daughter, I'll ask her--do you want to wear this outfit, or this outfit today (only giving her two choices). Another example: My sister will ask her daughter, "do you want to shower before me or after me?" (when her daughter doesn't want to shower at all). It always works.

You may want to read up on the subject. I'm not saying your son has the disorder, but many of the same techniques to deal with anger could probably help you work with him more effectively.

If this just recently started, I am wondering if he picked up some of this at school? I would try a time-out corner, or seat, with an explanation that this type of behavior is not accecptable.

Do not argue, this is a lose-lose. Give two choices you are happy with. As soon as you are upset or yell he has won. Try "so sad you feel that way (said with real empathy), feel free to join us for breakfast when you are dressed" or "Son, you are free to get dressed or to go to school in your pajamas." I know this sounds a little crazy but believe me it only takes once. The best, best, resource you will find for parenting is www.loveandlogic.com check it out.

I also use the phrase "I love you too much to argue with you," often enough that my kids are basically trained at this point not to argue. It's a beautiful thing.

I have a daughter who just turned 8. When she gets that way, we have her answer us with "yes, Sir/Ma-am" or No, Sir/Ma-am" for a specific amount of time, say two hours. If she doesn't, then it becomes 4 hours, then the whole day etc. We've never had to go more than a day.

I'm starting to deal with this problem in my 4 year old son. My best advice is when it is almost time for him to move from an activity to a responsibility, warn him ahead of time. Say, "in xx minutes, you need to stop what you are doing and do whatever needs to be done." If he knows what to expect, he might comply a little easier. As far as discipline goes, if his backtalking doesn't stop, and you're not adversed to it, wash his mouth out with soap. I know it seems old fashioned, but it worked when my son swore. He has yet to do it again. Good luck.

We have the same issue and my seven year old is the oldest of four. His siblings are now mimicing him. He gets timed out if he does it after one warning. If it continues his bedtime is changed to match that of his 3.5 yr old brothers. Hasn't stopped completely but goes in ebbs and waves. Any other ideas are appreciated.

W., my nearly 7 year old daughter also has a mouth on her. From what I hear from other parents I know it is typical at this age. I agree that the eye rolling and nasty looks are unbelievable. We restrict TV use for the mouthyness. Each "incident" she loses 15 minutes of television time that day. We tried other things like lemon in the mouth, time outs, etc and none of them worked, but making her lose time from Hannah Montana surely does.

I will admit though that my situation is not the norm - my daughter was adopted out of foster care when she was 4, and was recently diagnosed with an attachment disorder. She does behave like a "normal" child at times - and we really find that limiting or removing certain privledges works the best when she is not in a "RAD" (reactive attachment disorder) mood

It sounds to me like you let your children do what they want to do (computers/tv/games whatnot) before they do what they have to do. I've found that if I say "If you do what you need to do, you might have time for what you want to do" works well in my home. I feel like I'm also teaching that needs come before wants. It may include you getting up before your children to put an end to the unwanted morning activities until the habit is formed.

My son went through a "I hate you" phase when he was younger - because he saw it worked. It affected and hurt me when he was hurt and wanted to hurt me. Children will guage your reaction and feed upon it. If you're yelling at them, they still aren't doing what they need to do - right?

Remember: This too shall pass. A childs life is filled with phases, and this is just one.

Hi W.,

I too have a 7 year old son and a 5 year old daughter and I'm dealing with back talk and disrespect from both of them lately. Like you, I stand my ground but sometimes that aggravates the situation that much more. Lately, I've been speaking very softly to both of them and reminding them that we don't speak to each other like that. I don't do it and I don't expect them to. If they continue I tell them that obviously, they do not appreciate the privilages that they get and that they have not earned them by speaking to me in this manner so they lose them fo the day. For example, if your son tells you "no" when you ask him to turn off the video game, he has lost that privilage for the day and must earn it back. I tell my kids all the time, they mnust "earn" privilages they don't automatically get them. Hope that helps......good luck!

L.

Sounds like he is having problems with transition. My daughter did/does too. Try giving warnings...ie 10 mins. 5 mins. 2 mins. now it is time to stop.

I have also threatened my daughter with wearing pjs to school. She certainly doesn't want to do that.

Another idea is instead of taking computer time away as a consequence, he only gets computer time as a reward for his behaviour. Make hime work for it. Everything we do is molding their behaviour and most of it is behaviour modification. I adopted my daughter at age 5 1/2. There was plenty of behavour modification going on in my house. My kitchen was full of progress/rewards charts. The behaviour specialist recommended taking the positive approach to everything thus using the reward charts. Sounds good in theory but it's still hard not to want to throttle them sometimes.
Hope some of these ideas are useful to you.
My rules for mornings are, no TV, games or PC until everything is done...bed made, teeth and hair done, dressed, lunch packed. If there is time left over, lucky for her. Doesn't happen very often. Basically, you need to try one or two different approaches for awhile. If they don't work, try another.

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