It all started with my request to my 8 years old daughter to clean her room if she want’s to have a playdate in the afternoon. “Honey go clean your room if you want your friend to come over for the playdate! “. Her reply stunned me. With one hand on her hip she burst: “ I am not going to do this! You are not my Boss!” Me: “If you made all this the mess, you are the one who need to clean it up.”
Her response: “No way! Cleaning is boring. Cleaning if for moms!
I tried to keep my cool and not scream. I was shocked. Should I punish her? Should I try reasoning with her again? What is the best thing to do?
I told her “ clean your room” and left the room to prevent myself to say something that I will regret later and because I didn’t want her to see me so upset.
It wasn’t the first time when my 8 years old back talks. Her demeanor started a few months back, but she never went so far as that day. Not knowing how to react I just let it go.
A few days later the same attitude from her 3 years old sister was all that I needed to realize this went to far.
Me: “ Do not eat in the living room, honey. We need to eat in the kitchen.”
“ No mommy! I’m watching Sponge Bob!
What was happening with my daughters? Were they copying their friends? TV characters? Were they mimicking me? Whatever the reason was, I had to stop the backtalk fast.
I started to search for advice, from mommy friends, from my mother, from Google search… I was desperate.
I found so many advises but some of them were not appropriate for the way I wanted to raise my girls.
I have ended up trying a few of what I thought are the best for my family.
1 “ The behavior chart.”
I made a behavior chart. I made the rules clear for everyone, and I included a consequence for each kid. My 8 years old would give up her privilege to have a playdate that weekend and my 3 years old would miss her story for that night. We read the rules together and the posted them on the wall.
Did it work? Not really. Besides the fact that it was too much work, having to feed my children and take them to places, I needed to keep track of their behavior when we were not at home, and it was hard to explain my 3 years old why Mommy is punishing her for something she did 3-4 hours ago. She was too young to understand that the way she spoke to Mommy just took away the right to spend her time reading a story with Mommy
Also my 8 years old, engaged in a debate about what exactly is considered back talk, whenever I pointed to the chart.
The good thing was, that having a chart in place stopped me from spitting out the heat of the moment punishments that I”d never be able to carry out.
2. Keep you emotions in under control.
I know that my kids most amusing activity is to test your limits. Try not to take it personally when your 3 years old calls you Bad Mommy because you won’t play the air plane when you just came back from a playdate at the local gym where Bad Mommy had made arrangements to meet with other mommies just that her daughter socializes with kids of her age.
Instead of raising my voice, I have simply pointed out that her word aren’t working. My intention was to replace back talk with a convincing debate, a skill they will need to use later in life.
In most of the times, it worked.
My 3 years old learned that if she wants her a snack she needs to ask in a nicer way.
As far as my 8 years old, when I told her to do her homework, and he response was” I don’t want to!”. I didn’t started to scream, but I wanted to. Rather, I sad: “Do you think that when you yell at me you won’t have to do your homework? Really? Or you could just find a better way to talk to me to get what you want.”
She stopped and looked at me long. I ignored her. Her next word were: “ Mommy, can I please do my homework after we finish watching this movie?” Of course, I agreed.
3. Keep your promise. Follow through.
This was a painful one for everyone but it worked, I can’t deny it.
“Following through” is not fun at all. It’s like discovering you have no toilet paper in the whole house cause you forget to buy some the last time when you did your groceries. But from the moment I have started to reinforce consequences my kids became little monsters for the day but at least they stopped doing the bad things for the day.
The night when only the 3 years old got desert after diner and my 8 years old burst out “ I that a joke? You don’t love me anymore!” I had to walk away to keep myself from fighting with her. But every time I followed through with the sanctions, my girls were thinking again before doing that thing again.
Even the 3 years old understand that when Mommy says to stop that, or we are leaving, she is not kidding.
4. Disarm the misbehavior with affection.
When my daughter raised her voice one day because I told her that she needs to rewrite her homework because she did not paid attention to the questions asked. I took a big breath to calm myself and then sit next to her at the kitchen table, and say “ I understand that you are upset. What is going on? Would you like to talk about it?
Incredible how this simple strategy calmed her down. It even led us to have our special time. My 8 years old is stubborn but after every affectionate talk she ended up apologizing for the way she spoke to me.
My 3 years old had been calling me Bad Mommy” whenever I told her she couldn’t do something. She doesn’t know how to express what her feelings are.
Just sitting beside her on the floor and asking her basic questions like “ Are you mad? Are you hungry? Are you sad? Are you hurt? These helped her understand her fillings and express them in a certain way.
I have found a new thing that I could apply in my everyday like. Taking a deep breath before reacting, will calm things down.It changed the way I am interacting with my girls, with my husband, with the client who just told me doesn’t need my services after I have over delivered, with the ignorant who cut me off in the parking lot taking my spot.
5. Give rewards for the good behavior.
My girls do behave politely most of the time. But I was rarely rewarding there good behavior because, we only concentrate on the bad things we don’t like and ignore the good ones.
For me, it’s important how my girls talk to me When one of them respond to a request in an appropriate way, I should praise them and point out that the way they responded is appreciated, and it’s the right way to approach things.
I was so focused on the fact that they talk back that it was really hard to notice when they actually act and speak nicely.
This strategy had amazing results. Whenever I praised my girls, even for the little things, they shined.
Increasing the number of praises and hugs for my 8 years old was the first prize.It was so effective that I almost wondered If it’s real
Of course, the back talk hasn’t suddenly disappeared, but we are happier and calmer than before. Best of all I haven’t been called: bad Mommy again since I started to make this changes in our behavior.