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As parents, we encounter many different hurdles and obstacles, and when I say that one of the most difficult obstacles for me personally was when my son started talking back, I mean it. And while it took some research, sometimes, and a bit of effort, I found a few effective tools for handling that type of behavior that I would like to share.

Being a parent is a tough job. That job is only made harder by the hurdles we face along the way. Talking back begins in different stages for different kids. Some begin pretty early on when they yell their first “NO!” back in your face shortly after you told them to do something. Others are pretty peaceful for a while, and then see other kids talking back and doing the same. And others begin around the time when they are testing their boundaries.

When a child talks back, it can be difficult not to get frustrated or even talk back and argue with them, but I am telling you, that’s the last thing you want to do. To do so will only encourage them. So, where do you begin? I am glad you asked. Here are 8 ways to peacefully handle things when your child talks back.

1. Stay calm.

Whatever you do, keep your composure. The moment you lose your cool, all bets are off. Not to mention, you are setting the wrong example by getting on your child’s level. If you must, take a step back.

2. Be clear on what you expect.

In an understandable way, convey your expectations to your child. Make sure you keep it simple, but also that you are extremely clear.

3. Set and enforce consequences. If you skip this step, all your effort will be for nada.

Also, make sure they know that there are consequences if they continue to talk to you in a disrespectful way. Whatever those consequences are, lay them out there and make sure they understand that if they continue, you will have to stand by them. If they keep pushing you, enforce those consequences. If you don’t, they will not take you seriously.

4. Recognize and encourage the right behavior.

A major part of disciplining your kids is making sure they understand what the right and wrong behaviors are. So, when you catch them being respectful, following the rules, or otherwise acting at their best, let them know that their good behavior has not gone unnoticed.

5. Work to figure out if there are other underlying causes.

Remember, a lot of times ‘bad’ behavior comes from a place that isn’t necessarily bad, but is more so caused by some type of discomfort. For example, when kids are tired, hungry, sick, or anxious, they are more likely to seem edgy or to act in ways that maybe aren’t the best. If there are any underlying reasons that you can think of, keep them in mind.

6. Acknowledge their feelings, while also making yours clear as well.

Let them know that you understand where they are coming from, and you can see they are upset. But, also let them know if they continue to speak to you disrespectfully, you will end the conversation and enforce consequences.

7. Try to find patterns.

Oftentimes, there may be patterns having to do with your child acting out. For example, if any time they come back from a certain friend’s house with a bad attitude, it’s likely they have picked that up when they were with them. Or, if they act like that whenever they have a test at school, keep that in mind so you can prepare yourself and be ready.

8. Give respect and ask for it back.

Respect is taught, so if you want your children to respect you, make sure that you respect them. And whenever they are slipping back into disrespectful behaviors, make sure that you remind them that you expect to be treated with the same respect you give them.