Last Updated on April 24, 2018

Editors Note: Susan, the writer of this post, has been a mom and grandmother for several decades. Her thoughts on this subject are based on experience and years of wisdom. This grandmother is an extremely gentle and kind woman, some wrong assumptions have been made in the comments. We ask that you consider the entirety of the post and the heart of the person behind the words.


“You stupid, big fat ugly Mommy.” “You are so mean. I wish you weren’t my Mom.” “You are the worst Mom in the world.” Or: “No! I won’t!” If you haven’t heard these phrases or ones like these in your home, you must not have kids!

Backtalk in a home with young children is a common, normal, everyday occurrence. But it can leave us feeling like the worst Mom in the world. We wonder, “Am I handling this right? My friend’s child doesn’t do this. Her child is respectful. My child mouths off constantly. I am about to lose it!”

Several things will be helpful as we face the challenge of backtalk:

Remember you are the boss.

Children, especially strong willed ones, will inevitably try to run the show and if you get in their way they will let you know it, often with a tongue lashing. It’s easy to become involved in a power play. But this is dangerous for the child and will perpetuate problems for the parents.

Remind your child that you are the boss. You determine what is acceptable and what is not. Avoid a lengthy debate particularly with young children. They can negotiate you to death and sometimes you simply need to end the conversation. They are to obey you or there will be consequences, period.

There is a fine line between a child expressing her feelings and verbal abuse, and it isn’t always easy to tell the difference.

Distinguish between back talk and feelings.

A child who says, “You are so mean, everyone else gets to…” is expressing her feelings if she is not in your face with defiance. A good response to this might be, “I’m sure you feel that way now but one day you’ll understand.” Or employ a little humor and respond, “I probably am the meanest mom in town,” and burst out laughing.

Humor often dissolves tension. Recently our daughter Libby was punishing her 4-year-old daughter Greyson. Greyson responded, “When I get to Cousin Camp this summer I am going to tell your mommy [that’s me!] how ugly you have been to me!” Libby responded, “You do that!” I am still laughing over this.

Give them words to use.

It helps to teach children words to use to express their feelings in a way that is not defiance. “I feel like….” is a good substitute for, “You “blankety blank.” But remember when it is clear verbal abuse do not negotiate, take action.

It is particularly important to discuss with your teens how to argue without crossing the line to disrespect. Role playing is helpful. In a conversation demonstrate both a healthy way to make your case and a disrespectful way to engage. Practice and listen to each other. This is a skill they will need to develop for many relationships. You may not come to agreement but the exchange can be done with civility. You are still the parent, the boss.

Be very clear about what words are allowed.

“In your face” verbal abuse should never be permitted. Neither should blatant rudeness. “You are a —-.” is not acceptable. This is a lack of respect and respect is a character issue. “If you don’t—-, I won’t— or I will–” is not acceptable. These are threats and they put the child in the position of calling the shots. Stomping your foot and saying “no” to a request from a parent is not permitted. This is defiance.

So how do we respond when this happens to us? If it is verbal abuse say, “You may not speak to me in that manner” and then immediately initiate a punishment. There are many options for punishment. Withdrawal of privileges, adding chores should be first steps, spanking (when not done in anger) and even an old fashioned washing of a mouth out with a bit of soap are some options to consider.

The most important thing to remember is that the punishment must be swift, very unpleasant for the child, and then be over and love given. A consequence that doesn’t cause pain or sadness to a child has no meaning. What you choose will depend upon the age of the child, the infraction and what has meaning to this particular child. (Do not misunderstand unpleasant or pain to mean physical abuse, physical abuse is never an option.)

It is important to recognize that a child who gets away with verbal abuse will be more likely to become a teenager who verbally abuses his parents and rebels, an adult who abuses his colleagues or employers, and a married person who abuses his or her spouse.

The most important ingredient in the home is that of forgiveness.

Practice forgiveness. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to go to my husband or to a child and say, “I shouldn’t have said what I did and I need to ask you to forgive me. Will you forgive me?” I can’t remember a single time in which I felt like doing this. I’d much rather have said, “But if you had ____ or hadn’t _____.” We go to one another out of obedience not feelings.

Feelings take time to heal. Genuine healing will be difficult apart from the asking and granting of forgiveness. Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough unless it is an accident, like spilled milk, backing into the telephone pole in the auto, or breaking a lamp. When we intentionally wound one another we must ask forgiveness. God willing, we are raising future husbands and wives and they are going to need to know how to practice forgiveness in their future homes. It will help them if they see us doing it now.

Remember it’s never too late to do what is right.

If you realize you have been letting your kids get away with verbal abuse, you can still do a course correction. Agree as a couple what your new policy will be. Write it down. Mom and Dad must be on the same page or your child will play you against each other. You have to cover each other’s back. One dad upon witnessing his child verbally abusing his wife said, “You may not speak to the woman I love in that manner.”

Call the kids together–at a time not in the midst of conflict–and clearly explain the new policy. Include what is and is not acceptable and what the consequences will be. It is likely to take at least three times of enforcement when you change course before they believe you really mean what you say. Consistency and firmness are crucial.

As parents we often feel like we do this over and over and don’t make any progress. Our expectations are unrealistic. This kind of training takes years. Just keep at it. You are getting through even if you don’t feel like it right now. Our child’s security comes from knowing they are not the boss. We are. It helps to ask them with humor, “Who is the boss? Who loves you the most in all the world? I do!”


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  1. Susan,

    This is so timely. It’s been a hard morning with my 5 year old son, my 10th child! It does not get easier, every child needs loving correction. He is a very strong willed child…much like I was/am. Thanks for reminding me to stay on top of it…no matter how tired I am.Gotta go because he is waiting on me in his room, again. 🙁

    1. Robyn,
      You are the best! I’m glad you are my friend and an honest Mommy still sharing how hard it can be for us Moms even though you’ve had 10 kids!
      God bless you!

    2. I love your use of the term ‘loving correction’, I have a 10yr old daughter who is very strong willed, and it has taken a few years to get my head around how to manage this in a loving, respectful way. But now the hormones are starting and a new level of attitude has emerged, I will keep ‘loving correction’ front of mind, thanks.

      1. Frances I hear you!! My 11 year old is mouthy, strong willed & filled with hormones. Heaven help us! These were helpful reminders that I will certainly institute promptly!

  2. I found this through Pinterest and am glad I did. My son is nearly three and his communication is limited,but he’s recently begun stamping his foot and telling us no! This was a helpful reminder of what I need to do and how to handle things as his speech improves!!

  3. Thank you. I am dealing with a very strong willed 4year old girl. I have discovered that she is very difficult to punish, as any punishment goes in one ear & out the other. My hubby is in the Army so his punishment leans more to the corporal. The hard part for me is consistency, as a stay at home mom its difficult to always institute discipline with 2 children wanting attention at the same time. There is a quote that “How we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” its so true, I suffered years of verbal abuse at the hands of my mother, its easy to fall into that trap of knee jerk reactions. But you have to fight it because it does such more harm.

  4. My difficulty is that when my 6-yr-old boy is punished for being disrespectful or not minding, or whatever, he tells us how mean we are. He just doesn’t seem to get that it is a consequence of his actions not his parents being mean. We talk about consequences all the time, even when they have nothing to do with any choices of his, just observations of things around us. Once he is in a highly emotional state, however, that seems to go out the window. I guess we just keep at it. I do have to stop theatening him to do or not do things, I can see why that wouldn’t be effective.

    1. My daughter is 12 and I have been working with her for years on “This is a consequence to YOUR action” and she still behaves the same way as your son. You still have time and hopefully it will get better! I’m worried about my 12 year old though!!!

    2. I strongly believe that you shouldn’t “threaten” an action unless you are fully prepared to follow through with the consequence. If you tell them that they won’t get to do X if they misbehave, and they misbehave, you really need to not allow them to do X. If you give in, you are telling your kid(s) that what you say doesn’t really need to be adhered to. This is my experience, anyway!

  5. Thank you for this! Had fun reading it, and I’ve learned a lot. I am often so sensitive to feelings that I get very conflicted when having to discipline my child. This article reminded me that there’s no need to yell, but simply to punish and walk away.

    1. Punish and walk away? really? 🙁 How about get down on your child’s level, remind them (and yourself) that learning is sometimes a hard thing but it’s important, and you are going to help them learn. How about recognizing that your little person does not know better yet, and that you are their ally in this stage of life. Be understanding, be patient. You love them enough, you can grow your patience. They will learn, but they will also learn about your relationship with you- how you helped them, how you got down and looked into their eyes… or how you punished and walked away.

  6. I always say that kids need five things; Love, Food, shelter, discipline and consistency.

  7. I must admit, I need quite a bit of work on my consistency, and my knee-jerk reactions with my five year old son. But, sometimes I’m completely dumbfounded by some of the things he says. Just recently it was screaming at the top of his lungs over and over again, “You’re mean!” He is extremely strong willed and extremely strong, period. I’ve had to drag him up to his bedroom kicking and fighting the whole way. He’s five! Any suggestions for this? After he calms down, and we talk, he seems to understand why he received the punishment, but until then, he kicks and screams, and it’s very hard to handle him. And boy, he is one major back-talker!

  8. Having experienced some serious back talk this morning – I was thrilled see your article posted on pinterest- God sent. Reading along I came across “cousin camp” thinking – oh! that sounds like callie’s family. 🙂 Fun to come across you – and thank you for your encouragement and wisdom… its possible we may have the joy of callie’s company at the que this summer … where unfortunately she will probably witness backtalk first hand.

  9. I love this advice! When my kids are complaining, I often ask them, “Who’s the boss?” to remind them they don’t get to call the shots. It’s taken me 4 kids to get to the point where I can (usually) calmly deal with back talk.

    I love your advice to give them words to use. A lot of times, my kids don’t know how to express their intense feeling appropriately without help.

  10. I am thrilled to have stumbled across this site through Pinterest. Excellent article; it’s nice to find a place where I’m on the same page with other moms!

  11. Aunt LoLo says:

    Found this on Pinterest. Great!!! I just had my third, but the first two are a HANDFUL. thank you for this!!

  12. Love this! Thx for posting!

  13. my boys are 7 & 3 and my oldest is certainly headstrong, persistent, & occasionally bossy. one of the things i have learned about him though is his need to be heard and respected. i think sometimes as mommas (at least i do) forget that they desire and deserve the same respect we give other people. my boys, especially my oldest, responds much better when i say something like “i hear you, i understand you’re frustrated, angry, etc and that’s perfectly ok. what is not okay is to use your anger as an excuse to be disrespectful and ugly.” sometimes simply validating how he’s feeling can help him calm down. when that doesn’t work and he just keeps arguing, i simply have to cut it off and we tell him “you have been heard and you have been answered. this conversation is over.” thankfully, neither of my boys say things like “you’re mean” or “i hate you” or anything like that, but that doesn’t make their arguing or smart mouth remarks any less disrespectful or frustrating.

    1. I love your recap of how you manage your tough situations! I also agree with you. Power struggles and back talk often stem from a child feeling like he has not been heard.
      I especially love your line “I hear what you are saying”. Communication is about making sure the other person was heard!

  14. This is so perfect. I have been struggling with my not-quite-8-year-old daughter, quite shocked and disappointed that the attitude I was expecting to crop up no less than 4 years from now is rearing it’s ugly head now! This information is just what I needed to help nip this in the bud and help teach my already very sweet girl that she cannot treat her family (and more commonly, me, her mom) with such disrespect. Thank you again for this information!

  15. I love your practical, no-guff way of parenting, and I’m totally on board, even with spanking when the behavior merits. However, and I’m aware some may see this as semantics (I wholeheartedly do not), but what we do to correct our children is NOT AND NEVER SHOULD BE seen as punishment. It is discipline. Remember, Our Abba Father does not punish us, he disciplines those he loves. Discipline is something we do FOR a child, to bring them up properly. Punishment is something we do TO a child and it is done as a power struggle and to HURT the child. My kids are at the age where I can also tell them that at the end of the day, since God put me in place to shepherd them, they are disrespecting Him when they disrespect me. They are really starting to understand that which is great!

    1. I love that statement!! “Discipline is something we do for a child and punishment is something done to a child”. I am not a parent (yet – maybe in a few years!) but I am a teacher and it is SO hard sometimes to work with students who don’t have any type of discipline or consistency at home. It is so easy to engage in power struggles which don’t benefit anyone.

  16. jenno madmen says:

    I’ve been having issues with my backchatty 5 year old schoolie for a few months now and nothing had worked for us in regards to him losing his cool with people and hurling hurtful things at them (putdowns if you will, you’re stupid! I hate you etc) recently we implemented a different kind of technique that has worked wonders.
    when my son says something unsavoury towards anyone in the way of a put down, he must then say 3 genuinely nice things about the person who’s feelings he’s hurt we call them putups, he must also apologise and then has a choice of two punishments that the person (if an adult or young adult) has the power to decide for example a time out for 5 minutes or his favourite toy/movie/game taken for a week. Or if it’s a child he’s aimed it at then I decide the punishment and depending on the severity of his tongue lashing.
    The putups are becoming an amazing tool and he’s genuinely learning to see the best in others without the need to put them down to start with!
    I’d recommend giving it a try!!!

  17. My three year old is very verbal. He talked early, he talks well, but that doesn’t always mean he can express exactly what he is feeling quickly enough for him. So we have melt-downs. These I can handle, because I know that once he calms down we can talk and I can help him come up with the right words to say to me about the situation.

    The bad attitude he has developed I am having a much harder time dealing with. He went from being a very kind and helpful kid, to a kid who now demands we do things for him, and who is no longer concerned when he does something that ends up hurting us. When he is in one of his bad behavior moods I tell him, “God gave us free will so you have a choice, you can choose to be naughty, disrespectful, disobedient, or you can choose to be nice, respectful, and obedient. It’s your choice, but if you choose to be naughty then YOU are choosing to go to time out/have privilege or toy taken away/ spank (depending on what he is doing). It is your choice to make” Putting it on him, even as he is making bad choices, makes (at least for me) the discipline easier to do. But still so frustrating to have to deal with over and over day after day.

    Thank you Susan for this blog. It gives me courage and hope and knowledge I am not in this alone.

  18. WAYS TO HELP AN ANGRY CHILD CALM DOWN – I am a long time teacher (and mom) who has dealt with tamtrums and angry statements from all ages. The children feel just like us when we are extremely mad and frustrated! They do not know how to deal with these feelings in correct ways and so they try different tones and words with us. It is important to name the feeling and let them know you see their feelings and have them also. “They are human feelings!” I tell my seven year old daughter. Then give children ways to handle the feeling that make them feel better. I have done the following to get children calm and THEN TALK about ways they can handle anger, frustration and over the top feelings in acceptable ways. If you punish a child for being angry it does not give him options to self control, a skill adults have hopefully mastered. Don’t go on about what they did or the consequence until they have calmed themself = 1. Offer a cool wash cloth to put on thier hot head. 2. Say “You can hit this pillow to get your anger out and then we will talk about it later”. 3. When you have calmed yourself, you can draw me a picture of what is making you so very mad that you feel the need yell and scream. 4. Tell the child , what you do to make yourself feel better when you are angry. Something like, “When I feel angry I take a warm bath. You make me feel angry when you call me names” They need options to let those feelings out and then a listening ear to know you respect them and care and are trying to help them “find control within themselves”. The name calling of someone can have a consequence for a child after they have calmed down. Trying to give a consequence when a child is angry only fuels the anger. The children who are extremely angry may not want to be touched and should be confined as to not hurt anyone. Give them some time to calm down. Low lighting helps and a drink of water or juice. Just as we need when we are angry and trying calm down. As they calm, say something like, “Lets just close our eyes together and breath big breathes to help us calm down.” Maybe they will let you hold a hand and talk about the issues.
    Show the child that they can calm themself down as you do in front of them. Don’t hold anger for the child.

  19. I’m at the end of my rope. Help! I have been raising my stepson with my husband since he was 10 involved since he was 6. Now 15 he is disobedient and is allways rude and condescending on the small things.(trash, walk dog, help clean up dinner, wash dishes, get off your game) He is a great student in school. He was raised by his grandma when he was younger and catered to when he visits. When he visits his mom he stays in his room and plays video games and only comes out to eat. We have rules and consequences and used to give him 90 mins of game time a day which he didn’t get to use everyday due to other obligations. He feels he should be able to do what ever he wants when ever he wants. “Its MY xbox i should be allowed to play whenever i want” attitude. he has been grounded from electrionics for months. Everytime he gets them back he literaly mouths off and gets them taken away. His dad asked him why dont you respect me and listen. the son replied i only give respect to those who respect me. he thinks we dont respect him because we dont support “gaming” to the extent his absent mother does who only has him everyother weekend. She never monitored his gaming or the nature of the games even as a young child. One time his anger got out of control and his mouth. He kept screaming at me from his room i went in to tell him he could not speak to me that way and he nearly punched my pregnant stomach missing by inches. He really intended to hit his dresser. I no longer speak to him unless i have to because he always finds a way to paint a horrible picture and is rude.

    1. Keep in mind that your stepson is escaping feelings with his gaming behavior and avoiding responsibility and contact with others when he wants to play extensively. We both know, he does not feel respected but has not earned respect…How can respect be given if you are in front of a screen much of your day? One way I show children that the video time they get is not a right just because,” it is there” is to have them earn the time. Flip it around and don’t take it away but use what he likes to your advantage. I do not like taking things or activities away from children as many do because it sets up a power play and as adults we need to be bigger than a power play and know that we are there to teach not force compliance from younger ones. I use positive reinforcement rather than negative by helping children learn in life “You get what you earn!” A child needs to have their accomplishments and positive behavior encouraged and rewarded. I reward the childs good behavior with time on the game, rather than take away time. When we take away things the child feels yoou are stealing from him and disrespect starts. Just like if someone were to take something of yours because you did something they did not like you feel it is unfair and do not respect them. Use a wipe off chart and let him earn 1 hour for every positive. If a child is punching you then there are some deep seated feelings of resentment or they are looking for your response to see what they can get away with. There should be a consequence and something more than taking away screen time but that is for you to figure out. Children want and need limits but they have to be done fairly in most situations or his anger will continue to go out of control. He needs to learn exceptable ways to get his anger out. This child may be holding resentment for whatever reason and will cooperate better once you get to the root of his feelings. If you can not talk him and the situation is unsafe then matters should be changed until things improve as you and the baby are at risk here. You and your husband, as the adults, have to look at him as a learning individual and teach him exceptable, respectible ways to communicate, build relationships and anger management. My rule of thumb is to ask myself how would I feel if I were treated this way as a child and things were taken away from me because I was disrespectful? Talk to him about how you want to build a relationship with him but you can’t if he holds such anger and strikes out. In the end, turn the focus on what he does well and not what he does not do well. Give him opportunities to contribute to the family and not hound him. If you say.”We want you to be part of the family by setting the table (for instance) each evening.” If he does not do it, do not remind him, just pull out the paper plates and dish up the food for all to eat. See if he does it the next time. He needs to feel like he has a role to play in the family to take part in it. Do not hold resentment for his past behavior…Just start fresh and talk with him about how you can all work to be happier in the family are trying to help him learn better ways and see if he comes around.. Don’t expect comformity in an instant, but let him see the consequences of not being responsible. Let go of your anger and focus on building a relationship with him of respect. Children rarely do what is expected of them the first time. Allways turn what is bad – good and what is negative to a positive to help children learn about life and relationships. We model good behavior. Children who are feeling bad inside will not cooperate until you help them to feel better inside. They are usually lost on how to go about doing it for themselves.

      1. thank you for your prompt reply. its greatly appreciated. I wish sometimes there was a book “how to parent” that had everything laid out in front of me. We used to do that when he was younger and again when it was time to get off it would be a major power struggle even with a 10 minute warning or a clock and he knew what time he had to be off. My husband would than turn it off for him which would anger my stepson who “didnt get to save”. we told him it would be there tomarrow. I guess it would be worth another try. I feel if we sit down to talk to him there will have to be a disscussion of rules of civility on how we are to engage with each other. but if he starts to become irriate i dont really think i know of a resonable consequence that allows us to continue the disscusion. I know he has lots of feelings and resentments toward his ex stepfather due to the divorcefrom his mom and I honestly think it is the root of the issue. But how do i discuss it with out him useing it as an excuse to scapegoat his behavior as a pity party which he has done also. We used to have such a loving relationship until 6months after there divorce. Mabe he thinks Im no longer as valuable because step parents leave you?

  20. Today has been the most challenging yet of our summer. I am a stay at home mom of four & one on the way. My oldest is 13urs old and has a mouth that just dosent stop. No matter what I do or say I’m being “mean.” I love my daughter but I very much dislike her these days. I am at a complete loss as to what to do with this child. Your article is encouraging for my others though.

  21. Thanks for posting this! I’m suddenly raising three children that are not my own, and sometimes its difficult trying to distinguish between what is normal behavior and what is simply the result of poor parenting prior to them coming to me. We’ve definitely got some work to do, all around – I am getting a crash course in parenting, and the kids are working on adjusting to a lot of new rules and expectations. In some ways I’m glad their behavior is more or less “normal”, but darn it, I want them to be respectful little angels all the time! I’ll keep dreaming lol, and in the meantime I will definitely use the tips in this post to try to bring reality a little closer to that dream 😉

  22. I feel like it should be mentioned that it’s only fair to reward good behavior too, rather than just constantly punishing for the bad behavior.

  23. Hi. I came upon this post on Pinterest.
    I appreciate many aspects of what you are encouraging parents to do, like being consistent and refraining from using threats in order to discipline. You lost me though when you advocate punishment. Discipline is used as a teaching tool, right? You want to teach your child not to back-talk but more-so, a respectful way to communicate his frustrations and anger. It’s all about replacing the unwanted behavior with the desired one. Plus, no kid is going to respond well to getting soap in his mouth. What will that teach him? That soap tastes gross and that mom is mean! What’s wrong with simply responding to your child’s backtalk with a ultra calm “try again”. Or give him the words to use. I could go on forever and would love to continue this brainstorming conversation if you’d like. You can find me over at my blog
    Thanks, Stephanie

    1. Getting soap in my mouth taught me that if I didn’t want to taste that again, I’d better find a better way to express myself. it also taught me that I did not have the right to talk to my parents disrespectfully!! Sometimes kids don’t need more words to use – they need to learn that its wiser to say nothing at all.

  24. Sorry, I think this is terrible advice. Sounds like you are creating sheep, for whom OBEDIENCE is the only acceptable behavior. And laugh at your child for something they are upset about? Wow. I’d think you’d love them too much for that. Seems like you need to remember that young people are still people. You wouldn’t laugh at a foreigner who is trying to learn our accepted standards for behavior, would you? Or punish them? Same thing. Looks like a sad cycle to me 🙁

    1. Completely agree with you hjn. I read some of this with my mouth gapping open in disbelief that in this day and age such antiquated advice can still be given out. Washing mouth out with soap? Spanking? Seriously? My boys are 13 and 15 and I have earned their respect by treating them with respect. I took a course in parenting skills when they were very small and learned some practical skills that helped me tremendously on my parenting journey. Most of them involved learning to keep calm myself so i am not verbally or physically abusive when my buttons are pushed.

      We are the adults, they are the children. It’s up to us to model self-control if we want them to learn it.

  25. These are great tips! I’m going to have to remember these. The only one hat I can’t fully agree on is the humor part. I agree that humor diffuses anger but to laugh when your child is so angry makes them feel like you don’t take their feelings seriously. My mom used to do that to me when I would tell her why I was mad and it made me feel like I was stupid. Even if you think their reason for being mad is dumb or unimportant you have to remember that in their little head it is a big deal.

    Other than that I wish I could implement all these tips for my sisters bratty little kids that have no respect for anyone!

  26. Wow after the day I had with my 8 year old son, I’m glad I just found and read this. I’m not alone, and my kids not a lost cause. Tomorrow is a new day.

  27. Thank you!! This should be required reading for every parent!

  28. Thank you SO much for this, my 9.5 yr old is getting very verbal & we are having a hard time getting along…I have high expectations for him, Im a little ocd when it comes to the kids rooms being picked up & chores being done. Im also pregnant with #4 so not the most patient right now, I usually am but my kids really have been pudhing my buttons in over time the last few weeks 🙁 so frustrating getting the kids to get in & do what I ask without feeling lime talking to a wall!

  29. Sue Haakonsen says:

    I have 3 biological children all grown up and married and we still have 2 at home 13 & 11 years , adopted girls. Even though I know all this and practised it with my other children it was a good reminder for my 2 still at home. I realise the world has changed and there is alot more disrespect for parents in this era and it is sad to see. Thank you

  30. I love this article and have used some of these over the years. Some are new tricks to use. My daughter turns 17 today, so ladies with 10 and 11, It feels like they are someone else, but enjoy the little girl back talk…… the mean teenager really sucks lol. Wouldnt trade her for anything, but some days man o man.

  31. Thank you so much for this. Our son is 8 and he is our baby. We had two girls before him, we were strict, but they didn’t need much discipline. We have let our son become down right abusive! Both verbally and also hitting his sisters and us. We would speak to him every time, but nothing worked. Now, it’s out of hand. We are so ashamed to have other parents comment on how disrespectful our son is. We are taking back our child! You are so correct in everything you stated. Wish us luck!

  32. My daughter, 18 months old, has recently started her “no” phase where everything is just “no mommy” “no daddy” but shortly after, WITHOUT being exposed to these actions, began hitting in the face when we got down to her level to explain “we don’t do … Whatever the actions are” and punches/slaps herself in the face when we say no to the hitting!? Help!

  33. I am a 25 yr old mom.I have two amazing kids girl 5 an my son is 1.My 5yr old is getting harder to discipline.I have been trying different strategies but it seems I don’t see much of a change.She likes to play me an her step-dad against each other.I don’t want her growing up an being “that kid” everyone! Talks about?????

  34. Dear Susan,

    As a children’s mental health therapist, I would strongly disagree that “a consequence that doesn’t cause pain or sadness has no meaning.” To discipline is to teach.

  35. How do you deal with backtalk when the parents are no longer together, however they share time with both parents equally with shared custody (in other words, week on/week off)?

  36. Just googled backtalking kids and your artical came up and what a blessing!!!! This is exactly how I was raised… Thank you for the awesome advice!!!!!! My wife and I have an 8 yr and 7 yr and 1yr so my wife gets overwhelmed… I can’t wait for her to read this, Thank zyou again!!!!

  37. This has been very helpful. And am glad I got the chance to read it.

  38. We changed school. That had biggest impact on our daughters behavior. From one day to another. And I am the boss and my daughter knows it. We lead by example, but if bad manners are brought to our house, we correct it. I am not sure about washing mouth with soap, I would never do that. But my child knows that I deliver my promises and at certain age we had to remove privileges a lot. I wonder if it was the school environment what made her so difficult and angry before. It surely looks like it when we look back. It is much easier now when she is 9. Practically no problems. A pleasure to be around her.

  39. I find this post truly incredulous in the 21st Century where we are trying to teach respect and in order to develop a mutual respect for each other as parent and child, the traditional form of punishment will never work long term The advice to spank or wash a mouth out with soap and water is so punitive as to border on child abuse

    Without judging parents who “lose it” and smack occasionally, it is important to recognise that smacking long term is ineffective and does send a very mixed message to children. There are more positive ways of achieving the same result without the cost to the relationship between parent and child and without the long term difficulties. We tend to smack more often when we have lost control and our children are aware of this so smacking signals our loss of control. Smacking does not teach children to behave better and does not teach them why their behaviour is wrong and how they could behave differently. It sends very confused messages to the child. When we smack, the message the child gets is that smacking is ok and yet we are trying to teach our child not to hit others. How confusing can we be? Admittedly smacking will stop the action but only when the punisher is present and teaches the child to be furtive. The child will not learn self discipline and ultimately comes at a huge price in terms of the long term relationship with parent.

    I hope in this age of freedom of speech that this comment is not deleted and it is important to present a balanced argument but I fear this may not be the case. Please prove me wrong

  40. I think I will try this with my 3 year old son. He doesn’t “talk” back, but will grunt loudly when upset. He speaks well and clearly, but reverts to the grunt/yelling when angry and is determined to always have the last word (or sound, in his case.)