Friday, July 29, 2011

52 Tool Cards: Back Talk

The headline of this tool card is:
Don't back talk back

What is back talk? Every parent probably has a slightly different definition. For some very strict parents, it may be anything other than a "Yes, ma'am," delivered with a sincere smile. For others, it's questioning a command, responding with a rude attitude. Rolling eyes, a contemptuous tone of voice, sassiness or bossiness all can trigger a reflex reaction in parents of "How dare you speak to me that way!"

In reading Nurture Shock, I learned that kids learn this type of relational aggression from watching adults interact, and from television programming where characters talk to each other unkindly.

Jane Nelsen notes that speaking rudely back only creates a "power struggle or revenge cycle." We as parents have the power to break the cycle.
When a child speaks rudely, it's important to keep our cool and model an alternative way of handling things.

Some suggestions from Ms. Nelsen:

1) Validate feelings. "Sounds like you are really angry."
2) Take responsibility for your part. "I realize I talked disrespectfully to you by sounding bossy or critical."
3) Let's take some time to calm down until we can be respectful.

I asked for other suggestions from my wise mama friends and here's a summary of their feedback:

  • Provide an alternative script for how to kindly communicate their disagreement or question and say, "try again."
  • Ashley Van Otterloo of Simple Gifts suggests to ask them if they meant to sound angry ... kids who are immature in their communication and testing out the power of words need our guidance and feedback.
  • In the case when the negative language persists, Ashley follows up by saying "You're out of control of your mouth. I'm going to leave now, to help you keep from being hurtful/unkind."

Related reading:

1 comment:

  1. Love your first point, too! I tend to walk the line of being dry/sarcastic and appropriate often, and a lot of the "sass" I hear is a childish, really exaggerated attempt to sound wry like mama. :blush: I have to reign my tongue in cheek tenancies in a little, when I notice it coming back to me to the power of 6.5!


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