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Readers Respond: Most Useful Ways to Handle Teen Back Talk

Responses: 13


Back talk is a common rude behavior teens engage in when they are being told to do something they do not want to do. How do you handle this behavior when it happens with your teen? Share stories when you employed a useful way of handling your teen's back talk.

Wow. I thought it was just our family!

In reading what you all have posted, I am relieved a little to know that it is not only our family dealing with a very mouthy preteen that thinks he knows everything. You have given me a few ideas to try out and see what works best. I have taken a different approach to things. Yes, we have game systems, but they do not belong to them. They are rewards. I don't want to have kids that camp out in front of the games and are then distracted from the things they need to do. My sisters 8-year-old was so distracted from reality while playing his Xbox games, that he wouldn't even get up to go to the bathroom. Instead going poo in his pants. She then helped clean him up and started making excuses for why he did what he did. And we wonder why our kids grow up expecting things instead of earning them. Parenting isn't easy. But it shouldn't be this hard either. If kids think that we're mean than we're doing a good job. They need guidelines & direction and its our job to establish the rules. Good luck!
—Guest Sessa

Parents, Don't Argue Back

I am constantly struggling with this issue myself: disrespect, whining, disobedience. I rarely hear even a simple "okay" to any requests. I have found, without exception, that when I argue (or get caught in their argument) I lose. It isn't easy, though, to keep myself from arguing (responding with things like, "because ..." is engaging in the argument). My kids really are old enough not to have me explain - they KNOW already. So, when I do remember to simply walk off, they 1) wonder if a punishment is in the works (I usually follow through FIRMLY with punishments I give after a quiet, thoughtful time as opposed to the one I bark off in response to their behavior) and 2) they ALWAYS approach me with a quieter apology and begrudging agreement to do whatever I asked of them. We have already established that when I "ask" them to do a chore, it is as a parent who is using polite wording for a demand. Just as when a teacher "asks" for homework or a boss "asks" for help.
—Guest April


I tried taking away the Xbox controllers and hiding them. I gave them back to him once and when I told him to get off and get ready for bed, he hid his controllers on me so I couldn't hide them on him! Kids now days are so clever. What I did was unplug the Xbox and hid the cord... he'll never do that again.
—Guest meanestmomever


I remove the xbox and the psp and still all I hear is that I'm mean and unfair and then there's the tantrums. I truly struggle to convey to my teen why his stuff his taken as punishment. He believes that he has done nothing wrong.
—Guest TooYoung

Lets try that again

When my preteens, boy & girl, start talking back or raising their voices at me... I shake my head and tell them "let's try that again" which is their cue to lower their voices or use a "nicer" tone. Another thing I tell them is "we can do this the easy way or the hard way, which is it?" usually they choose the easy way. Many times they don't even realize how high their voices got or bad they sound.
—Guest Hippie

No Other Option

My 12 year old has a bad tendency to start whining when asked to do something...the main problem is ASKING your children to do thing. We are the Parents...WE make the rules not the children. I have stopped asking entirely. I now tell him what he is going to do. If he gets "mouthy" I tell him that he is to Respect his parents and grandparents and that's the end of the story no argument what so ever goes on. Parents expect only the best from your children, they are completely capable of accomplishing their best with the right parenting. Consider: If they are treating Their Own parents that way how are they presenting themselves in public when you're not around.
—Guest mother of one


I'm a mam of a teenage boy and I find that these 2 things work best for me. I'll either ground him for a few days or take his computer off him. He loves playing sport so being grounded doesn't really suit so it doesn't take long for him to calm down then we have a very civilized chat. Thank god.

Back Talk My Parents! Not Me!!

WOW! Not in my younger days. That was not heard of in the Black Community. That was Taboo, you just didn't do it. Doing my younger years we were taught Manners and Respect at home, school and Church. Some of the White Children dare not do it neither. This generation today is out of control. Corporal punishment is frown apond. Some of these children need an "Old Fashion Butt Whipping". I would never tell my parents to Kiss My A-- and leave me the Fu-- alone. This I have heard in stores and the parent did just what the child said to do. Spent over $300.00 in clothing for this particular child. If I had said that to my mom or dad, I would have been hit in the mouth so fast I would never see it coming. Parent need to take back their role as the PARENT as act like a parent and not the "FRIEND"! If they start correcting the bad behavior, while the child is young and stay on top of it. Then there is a possibility Parent can correct this. I am 65 yrs old.
—Guest Ms. Norma

Sounds Great

I love Nicole and Chancellor's suggestions! These should be the first options, and privilege removal (like games) is a good option for when they refuse to talk to you. At the same time, it's important to respect their property ownership. Like, if an X box is given to them as a gift, you aren't allowed to take it. But you do pay the electric bill so you could shut off the power to his room.
—Guest tyciol


I too, stuggle with the backtalking my teens will engage in rather harshly. Most of the time, I repeat what they are trying to say in a calm polite way, completely disregarding their "tone". Usually, I ask them if they agree with me that what I said (in a curteous manner) is exactly what they meant. I then say, I'm just making sure with a smile on my face. It is important to them that we, as parents, can help them communicate, respectfully without judging them in any negative way.
—Guest Nicole

Let's Put That on Hold

I have been told repeatedly by those 'more in the know' than myself that the best way to deal with a back-talking teen is to stop the conversation and go back to it when he/she can communicate in a courteous manner. As a reminder, this goes both ways as teens learn by example. So, if parents aren't in an agreeable mood, don't start the communication until both parties can bring their 'very best' to the table! Good Luck!
—Guest SChancellor

For Attachment Challenged Teens

Back talk is a major problem because they are so easily stressed by their primary caregiver's directions. I chose a time when my daughter was calm and not back talking to have a conversation with her about the impact her back talking was having on our relationship. I let her know that I felt tired out by it and sad that we have so much trouble talking lovingly with one another when we are talking about something she doesn't like. She said she understood and that she didn't like herself very much when she was acting that way either. We came up with a plan together to work on it. It is kind of involved, but goes like this: When she starts back talking, I take a deep breath and ask her to "play our game" which is a cue for her to take a step back and breathe before saying another word. If she does it, we put a penny in her jar. Small rewards follow. The plan works about 50% of the time. That is 50% more peace than we had before.

Take the Xbox

I'm on my own with 3, but only one teen. (Thank goodness) The only way I can 'shut him up' is to take away his xbox controller. He then has to do extra chores to 'earn' it back. He is much better now at controlling his mouth.

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