Talking Back Issues

Updated on March 27, 2007
J.M. asks from Kansas City, MO
11 answers

My son recently turned 6 and has begun talking back all the time. I am not sure if I should ignore the behavior, or if I should punish him for it. Simply talking to him about not talking back has not worked. Should I take privilages away? Yesterday we took away a treat for being rude and he was sad about not getting the treat, not about his behavior. Is this just normal behavior? Help!!!!!

Thanks Jenn

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answers from Springfield on

I have a 7yr old and have the same problem. I have a friend who had the same problem with her son. I'm being to believe that it is just an age thing. But I would suggest to take things away or I have found washing his mouth out with soap works. It sounds awful but it works. I hope this helps a little.

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answers from Springfield on

I disagree with the woman who suggested ignoring bad behavior. Your son is testing the limits. In a way, he's trying his wings and wondering how far he will be allowed to go. I have four children (15, 8, 5, and 3) My five-year-old is starting this behavior, but it is normal. But it is your responsiblity as the parent to show him where the boundaries are. I'm not talking about being mean, but being firm and consistent. I tell my son, "You are not allowed to talk naughty to Mommy. Please do as you are told or you'll have to spend time in time out." Then DO IT. Don't threaten punishment, then back down. And don't start the timeout clock/timer whatever until he's compliant. If he's still talking back, say "I'm not going to argue with you. I'm in charge, and you are in time out for talking back. It's time to be quiet now until time out is done." If he still keeps it up, you have to send him to bed, or he loses the chance to do something he was looking forward to, or some other privilege. The first time will be the hardest because he will still be trying to push that boundary. But you and your husband need to discuss your strategy in advance of the next episode and present a unified front. If your son sees you are on the same page and you aren't backing down, he'll change his behavior. You don't have to be angry...just let him know you love him, but you are willing to do whatever it takes to change the behavior. For example, we recently started to teach our three-year-old son that he needed to use "please" and "thank-you". He started using thank you, but absolutely refused to say please. He would turn his nose up and dig his heels in and demand what he wanted. This usually revolved around a drink or a snack. After getting frustrated and feeling at our wits ends, we decided to try making a game of it. Next time my husband was rough-housing with him, he was gently tickling him and when he wanted him to stop, he said, "Say the magic words! Say please stop!" My son did and my husband immediately stopped. He loved that game, and he learned that if he said please, he got what he wanted. He still refused to say please for food, so we decided to turn the tables on him. Whenever he demanded a glass of juice, we simply gave him a glass of water. When we gave it to him, he got angry, of course, and demanded his juice. We just said, "I'm sorry, but I can't give you juice until you say please. Say 'juice, please'" He refused for a week until he finally gave in and asked for juice and said please. We nearly fainted, and thank goodness we weren't out of juice that day!



answers from St. Louis on

My son is 4 1/2 and he has started this recently too. He goes to preschool so I think it's something he's picked up there. We have always done time out for him, so I just continued that. He knows he's not allowed to disrespect mom and dad, so I don't even count anymore. When he talks back to me, he immediately goes right into time out, which is 4 mins. on our stairs, which he hates. Then he has to apologize and tell me what he did wrong. We also try hard to model good behavior and not use sarcasm.
Whatever method you choose, I would absolutely address this and be consistent with it. As a teacher, I am appalled at how many kids talk back to their parents, and how many parents just put up with it. Discipline is about teaching him how to behave and treat others, and that everyone deserves respect, so don't let his behavior go! Hope this helps.



answers from Kansas City on

This is very normal behavior.
If they want the treat, they will be respectful.
Time-out worked best for my boys.
Best wishes,



answers from Tulsa on

My 5 year old does the same thing. He has also started stomping his foot...Which gets on my nerves.. I think it is all normal behavior. In fact, I think I remember myself doing it to my parents when I was younger.. I am so sorry I did that too. I take away my son's Leapster or anything that he really enjoys. It helps for a while. I also stand him in the corner. He gets out of the corner when he can tell me what he done wrong and after he cools down.



answers from Rockford on

When my kids did that I would say "Excuse me, what did you say?" (very seriously) and make them repeat it, they usually didn't want to, but I made them. Then I would ask them if they would like for me to talk to them like that and they would say no so I would say then stop doing it to me. OR start talking back to him like he is to you and he wont like it and he may ask you why you are being mean to him, then you can say "Oh, you were talking like that to me so I didn't think you would mind if I talked that way to you. Maybe we should both stop doing that." He will get the message! :) Hope this helps!



answers from Kansas City on

I started having this problem recently with my almost 4 year old. I have a friend who has her masters in early childhood education that I always call for advice. She also has 3 boys similar ages to mine. Anyway, I called her about this same problem and her advice to me has been that

you really have to learn to ignore a lot of that behavior.

I am not saying to ignore all of it but if you respond to it every single time they talk back to you then you are teaching them that they can get a rise out of you. Sometimes it does need to be addressed but a lot of time if you ignore them and don't even respond they will just move on. It is sort of the principle behind choosing your battles. Sometimes you can let it go and sometimes you need to put your foot down and set them straight.

It has been really hard for me to do this because I have always been sort of "I will not be talked to that way!" but her point was the more attention you give it the more likely it is to occur. I have to say that ignoring it as much as I can has really helped to curb it.

Hope this helps.



answers from Tulsa on

This is just normal behavior. Kids are always testing the waters to see how much they can get away with. You must nip this in the bud now and teach him that it is wrong. If you don't just think about the kind of mouthing and sass you are going to get when he becomes a teenager. My sister has a boy who is 17. He talked back to her when he was little. She just let him do it or ignored him. While babysitting for her while she worked, I did not allow this behavior. I informed him that my kids don't talk to me that way and he would not either. Now at 17 he will listen to me and my mother alot better than he does her.

If asked why he will tell you that he knows that grandma and I will not stand for it and he will be in trouble. With his mom she has let him do it so long he doesn't care. He knows she isn't going to do anything about it.

So teach him now that you are the adult and he has to obey. All through life we have to listen to people who are higher up than we are, and we may not always like it, but we still have to listen and do as we are told.



answers from Lawton on

He might not regret his behavior, but if you continue to show him there will be consequences for it, he will eventually stop it. I promise, consistent consequences will work. He'll learn not to talk back in order to keep his privledges.
You're on the right track! Best wishes to you.



answers from Kansas City on

My kids get mouth time outs. When they speak to me in a disrespectful way, they will have so many minutes of not being able to use their mouth for talking or making noise. They must think about why they have a mouth time out. After their time is up, I ask them why they have a mouth time out and they will tell me. With my three year old, I prompt her, "you have a mouth time out because you talked to Mommy in a very mean way" and so forth. And then I ask them to apologize.



answers from Wichita on

I personally think you should start punishing him. If you let this behavior go on because you are ignoring it, it will cause major problems in the future. You are the parent and you son should respect you. He needs to learn that now, if its not addressed think what it will be like when he is a teenager!!! Teach him to love and respect his parents and that talking back is not an acceptable behavior. Try time outs first, if that doesnt work, try taking toys away or his favorite foods if food is a good incentive for him. Maybe grounding if food or time out doesnt work. I dont know if that will be as effective since hes only almost 6 but if it means he cant go play outside with the neighbor boy, maybe that will teach him he better behave or he wont be allowed to have any fun. Hope this helps!

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