Categorized | Parenting, Toddler Discipline

Disciplining Children Who Talk Back

One of the biggest discipline issues parents have to face is back talk. While it is a normal part of child development, tolerating this kind of behaviour can result to major behaviour problems as children grow up. Here are some tips on how to deal with children who talk back.

Keep Your Calm

How you react to your toddler’s retorts can set the tone of your communication. Do not get into a power struggle or overreact to your toddler’s choice of words. Remember, children like pushing their parents’ buttons. So when your little one starts mouthing off, stay calm and do not respond in kind. Instead of saying “Do not use that tone to me you little brat.”, say, “I do not like the way you talk to me. I think there is a better way to say that.”.

Know The Reason Behind The Behaviour

You have to know precisely why your toddler is talking back to you. Is he irritable during lunchtime, in the middle of the afternoon or after playing physically demanding activities? This may be because he is hungry, sleepy or overstimulated. Maybe giving him a light snack before lunchtime, adjusting his naptime or taking some downtime after playtime can eliminate these triggers. Keep track of when back talks happen to prevent the behaviour from worsening.

Another reason why children talk back is because they lack attention. They will do anything to get an adults attention, even if it is negative. So the next time your toddler talks to you about something, do not just say “hmm…”. Stop whatever you are doing and listen to your little one. This way, you assure him that even if you are busy, you do not forget him. Moreover, take a look at what your toddler sees. Is he watching TV shows and commercials displaying a sassy attitude? It would be a good idea to supervise your toddler and screen TV programs.

Set Firm Rules

Make sure your toddler understands what is and is not okay to say. Be sure to stress the message that you will not listen to what he has to say unless he talks to you in a calm and respectful manner.

Give Consequences

If your toddler starts to talk back, give him a warning. You can say, “Honey, if you continue to disrespect me I will have to punish you.”. If he does not stop, grab your toddler’s hand and lead him to his timeout place. Have him sit down in an isolated room (make sure you still keep a close eye on him) for the entire period of the timeout. Withholding privileges (e.g. missing his favorite TV show, no video games and playing on the playground) is another consequence you can give.


Talk to your toddler about his behaviour. Let him know that you care about his feelings but you also feel hurt each time he talks back. Acknowledge his emotions – “I understand you are frustrated.” (to show that you empathize with him ) and do not interrupt him while he is talking. This will teach him that you respect his opinion and that he can always talk to you about anything.

Practice What You Preach

Of course, in order to successfully adjust your toddler’s attitude, you have to adjust your attitude as well. If he sees you handle your own emotions in a calm and mature manner, he will follow you.

Give Praise

Each time he speaks to you in a polite tone, tell him how you like it when he talks to you that way. This way, you let your toddler realize that it is not just the negative behaviour you notice, but the positive as well.

Be firm and do not let yourself be affected each time he makes nasty comebacks. The calmer you are, the better you can teach your toddler to express himself in an acceptable way.

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