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Jackson just turned 6 and with his birthday came a dose of attitude.  A few nights ago, I asked him to run upstairs get some pajamas for Bailey.  In the past, this would have been no problem, he even found it fun getting to pick her jammies out for the night. However, this time I was met with a shocking response.  He sighed and snapped back, “Why can’t you do it?”….Um, what? Who are you and what have you done with my sweet little boy?  It was all I could do not start selling all his new toys on eBay immediately. Unsure if he had just hit the age where defiance was normal, I started looking for ways to get this nipped in the bud.  Especially since Bailey is a little mime and does whatever he does. I couldn’t risk her picking up the ‘tude that early. Here are some tricks I learned from Parents magazine for cutting the sass and getting my little angel back.

Don’t get too emotional when it happens.  This can be tough, particularly when you have already had a ton of people talking back to you at work all day.  You certainly don’t need it at home and it can cause your blood to boil. But engaging in a verbal boxing match with your child only shows that they can get a rise out of you. Simply let them know that the way that they are talking to you is not acceptable, nor productive, and it won’t get them anywhere.

Praise them when they do speak respectfully.  More often than not,  Jackson is sweet and loving.  Make sure to point out the times when your kids behave that way so they know how happy it makes you. “Parents tend to pay attention to the negative things and ignore the good ones, ” says Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., director of the Yale Parenting Center.  Jackson gets so excited when I tell him I am proud of him and kids will remember those moments.

Follow through on discipline. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say you will take away their most favorite possession or not let them go to their friend’s birthday party if they talk back, but much harder to keep good on that promise. But if they know you never follow through on anything, they’ll figure you out real quick.  They’re sneaky like that. If you decide you want to withhold activities from them, make sure it is something you are comfortable with and not something you will regret when the moment actually comes.

Be sweet as candy to them.  When the attitude rears its ugly head, drench it with your own sugar. Megan Oesterrich, director of parenting education at the Center for Connection suggests to disarm their rudeness with kindness.  Take deep breaths, remove the power struggle, and tenderly ask them what’s wrong.

What do you do to fix their back talk? Share your comments with me!

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