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How do you get a child to stop talking back?

Updated on October 28, 2013

Outplay children at their own game

The first thing you need to understand is that children engage in emotional responses. When you engage in emotional responses, when you try to keep up with them, you will lose. They can and will outlast you. What you must do is beat them at their own game.

Instead of telling them what they must do, give them choices that you can accept. Instead of telling them to do their homework now, tell them they can do their homework now or after they help with the dishes. When they give a smart answer, just reply, "What were the choices?" Any kid worth keeping will come up with a smarter reply. But don't fall into the trap of trying to outwit them. Just reply, "What were the choices?" If you will keep your cool and stick with the reply, soon they will give up.

If they make some smart remark about what you are serving for dinner, have a ready reply, "You can eat what is on the table or breakfast will be served at 7 in the morning." You can expect some smart remark in reply. But do not fall into the trap of playing their game. Your reply should be "What were the choices?"

Of course, sooner or later, you'll hear the "I'm going to run away from home" routine. Your answer should be, "I'm sorry to hear that. We'll miss you."

When they tell you things like you are not a good mom or "I hate you", a good response is, "Nice try, I used that when I was your age. Didn't work for me either." And stick with that. For each smart reply, just say, "Nice try. I tried that when I was your age." They will very soon tire of the game.

You should understand that all these comments must be said with a smile and empathy. Do not be sarcastic. That will only increase their anger. Just be polite, and say, "What were the choices?" You will be able to keep your cool and it will be fun to watch them run out of things to say.

If you really want to learn more about this, I suggest you look up Love and Logic. They do a wonderful job of teaching parents how to deal with all types of problems raising children.


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  • John Chancellor profile image

    John Chancellor 9 years ago from Tennessee

    You right about it being annoying to the parents. The children are testing the limits. Often they know the exact buttons to push to plunge the adult into a fit of anger. The child controls the parents in too many cases.

    You sound like you really have it together in raising your child.

    Great for you. Have you ever thought of giving parenting lessons. There needs to be more parents like you.

    Thanks for sharing your comments.

  • chantelg4 profile image

    chantelg4 9 years ago from Northern Ontario

    I think smarting back is more annoying to the parent than it is harmful to the child. I agree that it is an emotional response on their behalf and depending if they truly have a reason to be upset, then I'll engage in it and say,"wow, you're really upset, aren't you"This makes them feel validated and more open to discussion. However, if they are completely out of line, I will remind them of the rules of respect and I walk away, if it continues, they get a consequense. Also, it depends on age. My "just turned teenage daughter" often likes to be sassy, but I don't take offense. She can vent on me, that's why I am here, to keep her safe. She knows I am not going anywhere.

  • John Chancellor profile image

    John Chancellor 9 years ago from Tennessee

    You are absolutely correct.

    And if you raise them right, they are well worth it.

  • profile image

    Diabetic-4-Life 9 years ago

    Good article and good advice!

    Of course, there will still be times you will want to smack them but walking away for a couple of minutes works--gives you time to get back control of yourself and reset that emotional hot button every kid automatically knows how to push.

    Kids--you just got to love em!