2 1/2 Year Old Talking Back

Updated on March 18, 2008
C.M. asks from Duxbury, MA
18 answers

My 2 1/2 year old daughter has just started to talk back a bit. She'll make demands like "go get it" or "do it now" or tell my husband or I to "get out" or "stop". We're making every attempt to raise her to be a polite, pleasant child. She is wonderful with her pleases and thank yous and always seems to be polite to friends and strangers. But I want to avoid any bad habits and I would love some advice on constructive ways to help her to be respectful to her parents and others.

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answers from Boston on

I think that everyone has good ideas. The only other thing that I would add is that it is really hard to be 2.5 and bossed around all the time (I know it's not what parents mean to do, but is what it feels like to the little person). You might want to give her times where she can pretend to be the mom and get to tell you to do things to. She still has to ask nicely (just like you are nice to her) but it gives her an opportunity to be in charge. Then when you ask her to be polite to you, you can point out "when you ask me to do things, I'm always nice to you." She won't get it yet, but it's good to establish some reciprocity. Just an idea.

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answers from Providence on

Resist the temptation and ignore her demands. Whenever she sasses, you react; you give her attention.


Initially, she will get very upset when you don't. Let her cook off a little, then explain calmly that you will not give in to the behavior. It may take a few tries, and she isn't going to be happy, but she'll learn her way doesn't work. They won't keep up a tactic that doesn't work.

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answers from New York on

My daughter is almost three and she talks back every once in a while too. I think it's just that kids that age are trying to be in controll of their own situations. Also, they are mimicking what they hear and how we talk to them. Ther other day my daughter told me that if I didnt get her more milk that I would get a time out! I almost laughed at her but was able to hold off.

When she does talk back to me, or make demands, I ask her if that was the nice way to talk to me or the mean way. They know the difference. Then I'll tell her that she has to talk nice to me, lower her voice, or speak clearly to get me to help her. This usually works. I think that coaching her to rephrase her request is better than reacting to the demand. Humor works well in our house too.

a little about me:
working, married mom of very independent 3 year old girl

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answers from New London on

In my opinion this is the 2-yr old version of the younger phase of saying "i can do it myself". Your daughter is trying to take control and it is age appropriate as she is testing boundaries and also emerging as an individual. Think of the number of times per day we as adults tell our child to do something eg get your shoes on, time for bath, whatever. Now she is doing the same back to you. She is not articulate enough to do it with "i wonder whether I could have some time to myself" so she just says "get out". If you continue to use polite words and say please, thank you etc, she will be the respectful child you are hoping for. You are doing everything right.

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answers from Boston on

I think it is very important to remember that children at 2 1/2 can understand a lot more than we give them credit for. I can say my daughter was the same way, (I think all children are). You just have to first, tell them that how they are talking to you isnt very nice and you dont appreciate it, that it makes you a little bit sad. Then if she still seems to be demanding, simply ignore the request. Sometimes children do things to see how far mom or dad will go with her demands. I know my daughter told me last night, "make me some spaghetti o's with meatballs" and then walked out of the kitchen. About 10 minutes later, she came back in the kitchen and said "hey did you make it for me"? I simply smiled and said, I'm sorry, did I make what for you? She said my spaghetti o's. I responded with, oh I must not have heard you, maybe you didnt ask for it nicely. So she gave me the devilish grin and said mommy please can I have some. They know exactly what they are doing, but if you feed into it, or make a big deal of it, sometimes its just the attention. As for the saying Stop, I wouldnt discipline this at all. Its important for a child to feel comfortable enough to say STOP to anyone. Maybe just let her know, its still nice to be polite about it. And the Get out thing, well thats just a terratorialy issue. (sorry my spelling may be off today :)). I see you have a 6 month old, I'm not sure if they share a room, but she might just want to have her space sometimes, and by all means, if she wants to be alone, let her be alone...she will use her immagination more. Once again, just remind her to say please. Sometimes when my daughter doesnt say please or thank you, when I'm finished doing whatever it is that she's requested, I will say, You're welcome Alexis, and she'll go, Oh sorry, Thank you mom...she's only 3. Sometimes they forget too. Good luck :)

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answers from Springfield on

Politeness was a big issue for me, one of those things I chose to really focus on. At that age my daughter did the same things and I would just look at her and say in an even tone "that's not how you say that" or "that's not how you ask" and I've told her when saying things certain ways is "rude." Early on in this training I would tell her the right way to say something:

"That's not how you ask for milk. You need to say: 'Mommy, can I please have some milk' or 'Mommy, can you please help me.'" Then I would say "Ok, how do you ask politely?" and make her repeat it. I've found that kids need to repeat things back alot to ensure that they really got the message.

I also make sure to ask her to do things and say please with her as well and she has responded to this well and is overall very well mannered.

Keep in mind that these routines will slip with time, on both sides. I've found my daughter will start to say "I want this or that" and I'll give it to her because I'm used to her being polite and so don't catch that she wasn't! She of course will capitalize on this and then is adds up and I will finally catch on and pull in the reins again.

Consistency is key in the early training though. So if you are going to insist that she ask for help, be sure that she ALWAYS asks for help before you give in.

Good luck!
29 year old single mom of 4.5 year old.

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answers from Boston on

All children, but especially those at this age really start to test boundaries. It definitely not a personal attack on you, they just want to see what they can get away with. I have found that "nipping it in the bud" right away, really works. I simply say-I'm sorry that is not how you speak to me if you want something, or, that is bad manners, please ask me in a kind way. Whatever you do-NEVER give in until she behaves appropriately. I also try to remember to speak politely to them. Although, I do believe that when a parent says STOP! it should be listened to and the child should take immediate action-part of respect is knowing that the parent is in charge! It sounds like you are on your way to raising well behaved children, keep up the good work! I have 4 boys, and my husband and I are constantly receiving compliments on their behavior, it feels really great, but more importantly, I know they understand what it means to treat others with respect. Which is something that it starting to be lost in today's society.

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answers from Boston on

I have a 3 year old, and she's doing that to me too. I have several ways of handling this. 1) I tell that it hurts mommies feelings and that usually hurts her to see me hurt. On occasion I pretend I'm crying. 2) I let her know that she is the baby and I'm the mommy and that she is not to talk to me like that. 3) I tell her that I will tell grandma & grandpa what's she's doing, that kinda scares her alittle because she doesn't want grandma & grandpa to know what she's doing. You kind of have to figure out their mood. And like you, absolutely polite in public, but she's coming into her own and well, mommy's not having it. After she apologizes to me for talking back, I then give her praise. I tell her what a good girl she is. It seems to work (sometime temporarily, but I'll take it)



answers from Boston on

My son is three and did the same thing (still does sometimes). I just act surprised and say that's not the right way to say it, I will get it if you ask nicely. Worked after a while.



answers from Boston on

I would have to respond by saying, First of all be sure you or your husband are not speaking in the same manner to one another or to others. More is caught than taught as you know.
Secondly, I would respond by telling her to "be kind, speak kind words" and I definitely would not give in to her demands.



answers from Boston on

Just remember kids do what they hear,or see, so stop and think before you talk to them or each other.



answers from Boston on

This happened to me not 15 minutes ago, with my 3-year-old daughter. She demanded milk. I told her quite sternly that she will not get the milk until she both apologizes and asks nicely. She cried at first; I told her that "asking nicely" does not include whining. She quieted down, apologized and asked, saying "please". THEN she got the milk.



answers from Boston on

C....this is too funny!!

all the ladies have given you wonderful advice!!

i just wanted to throw my two cents in!! lol

this "phase" will pass...i hope you are laughing too...lol

future "boss" perhaps?? ha ha ha

it will pass, for sure!! patience and telling her that she is hurting your feelings is a good start.

if she is acting "polite" outside, then you have no worries! you are doing a great job!

she is testing the water!!! lol and i think its so funny!!

kids....little comedians and they don't even realize it!! ..[sometimes]

good luck honey...and enjoy the show!!



answers from Boston on

I went thought the same thing at the same age with my now 37month daughter. Shes testing the waters, and hearing those unpolite comments from some sourse wether its at home, tv, other kids etc. Just stay firm with the manners and use them yourself--all the time!!! when you ask something of her, your husband or other childeren and she will mimick. and it will become a habit for her. When she does use the demanding remarks, get down to her level, eye to eye and tell her she is NOT getting what she wants by telling you to do something. She must ask nice using please and thank you and give her a chance to try again. If she is defiant, time out! And give her a chance again- she will get it!



answers from Bangor on

Welcome to the club! My son is 2 1/2, he goes to daycare and is well behaved there, but he will come home and sometimes he will just have a horrible day. The answer to everything is "NO!" Or my favorite "get up not your couch/chair" My advice would be if she tells you to do something, tell her that the two of you will do it together. If she doesn't want to do it together then don't do it (unless of course it's something that she really needs like a new diaper or the potty). My neighbors daught is about 2 years older than my son, so she is usually awesome with advice. She's always told me that her daughter was like this for about 6 months and around her third birthday she got over it, though she'll still try it from time to time.

You just have to let her know that it is unacceptable and that you aren't at her beck and call. It's hard and frustrating, but they get over it (or so I'm told!). If my son has a pretty good day, no ordering us around or being rude, doing what we ask, then we will do something nice, like go to the discovery museum or up to the gym at the University (where my husband and I are students) and let him have ahuge place to just run around (lol then he sleep great that night!).

I hope this helps, just hang it there!



answers from Hartford on

2 1/2 is not too early to instill 123 magic which is a timeout system for her age it could be a 2min timeout for each comment you do not like and just set the stove or kitchen timer that you have and have her sit away from the tv area, a nice quiet spot, but not her room where there is too much stimulation. she needs to know that her behavior is not acceptable and it usually takes a good month before you see results, good luck



answers from Boston on

When my son (who is now 4) demands or whines, I usually say "Oh, I'm sorry, I can't hear you when you speak like that". Now I just say "I'm sorry, what?" and he gets the hint usually.



answers from Boston on

I recommend the book "Raising Repectful Kids in a Rude World."

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