How to Deal With Preteens Talking Back

By Sara Ipatenco
Your preteen needs to know that talking back is unacceptable.
Your preteen needs to know that talking back is unacceptable.

Back talk is perhaps one of the most irritating behaviors among children. Not only is it rude and disrespectful, but it can also take a toll on the relationship you have with your preteen. If your child has been doing a lot of talking back, take action now. The sooner you deal with the problem, the less back talk you'll have to put up with in the future.

Practice what you preach, recommends the KidsHealth website. If you want your child to speak respectfully to you, you need to speak respectfully to her. It can be quite difficult, especially when your preteen is back-talking, but setting a good example is a powerful way to teach your child what you expect.

Maintain your confidence. When you waffle and back down just to get your child to stop back-talking, it sends the message that if he back talks long enough, he'll eventually get his way.

Allow your preteen to make certain decisions about her life. It'll reduce the amount of back talk you experience because children who get to make some of their own decisions are less likely to lash out when they don't get their way.

Initiate conversations with your child. Ask him about school, who his friends are what he's planning for the weekend. When you take the time to have a positive conversation, he's more likely to come to you with problems and less likely to back talk because he knows you're willing to listen, even if your answer is "no."

Stay involved in your preteen's life. Go to her sports games, dance recitals or band concerts. Children who feel supported by their parents are more secure, which means they're more willing to have positive conversations, according to KidsHealth.

Remind your preteen about the rules in your home. If he is back-talking, don't yell at him or it could get worse. Instead, walk away and tell your child you'll be happy to continue the conversation when he's ready to speak nicely.

Be consistent. Tell your child what the consequence is for talking back. Hand down that consequence each and every time your child talks back. That sends the message that you won't tolerate the behavior.

Offer your child incentives. You might give her a point each time she makes the choice to speak nicely instead of back-talking. Once she has a certain amount of points, she gets a reward such as an ice cream cone, tickets to see a movie or getting to pick the restaurant your family goes to.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.