If you have a teen in the house, you’re probably dealing with either the silent treatment, or back talk, or most likely both.
I recently attended a webinar by Amy McCready which changed the way I respond to my teen’s back talk. It’s been life-changing, for both of us.
Don’t get me wrong, I still make mistakes but our relationship is so much better now than it was a few weeks ago.
I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you today.
Take a deep breath, and let’s dig in.
Amy explains that we’re all born with a need for ‘positive power’ – the ability to have some control over our lives.
As our children grow older, they will feel this need much more, and start to push back on us ordering, directing, and controlling their every move.
This makes sense to me. As our children learn how to do things for themselves, they will automatically want to have more control over how and when they do things.
Imagine that your boss is always ordering you how to do your job and when to do it. You most likely feel that you’re perfectly capable of doing your job without him yelling at you all the time.
This constant pressure is making you unhappy and stressed. Eventually, you’ll either want to quit your job or shout back. Right?
Our teens feel this stress in a similar way. As they cannot easily run away from us parents, their main response is to fight back.
And what do we do? We have the “Oh heck no! You’re not talking to me like that!” response, and escalate the situation.
I’m sure that this sounds familiar in your home. I find it very hard not to see their backtalk as rudeness and defiance.
I realized that, even though they are still children, they have the same needs that we do.
We all need to feel that we have some positive power over our lives.
This realization allowed me to see their behavior in a different light and made it possible for me to respond differently.
I hope that this makes sense to you too.
Amy teaches us 5 strategies that will help you regain your calm and put an end to backtalk.
I’ve summarized them for you here.
1. Your response matters
Realize that your response will either escalate or diffuse the situation.
This was my biggest learning curve. I had to take a deep breath, swallow the words that I wanted to yell back, and think about my response.
It’s still a work in progress but it definitely helps to aim at diffusing the situation rather than stoking the fire.
Listen to how you talk to your child. Remember that it’s not about winning the argument, but helping your child find ways to have positive power within your boundaries.
2. Stay calm
If you’re not able to respond immediately. That’s fine. The key is to stay calm.
Tell them that you can see that you’re both upset and that you don’t want to fight.
Say that you’re going to walk away to calm down your emotions. And that you’ll be happy to talk to them again when you both feel ready to speak to each other calmly and respectfully.
Then walk away. Don’t let them keep the conversation going. They cannot fight with you if you’re not there.
When you’ve gathered your thoughts and are calm, you can try to find ways that will allow them to have some positive power over their own life.
3. Give them positive attention
Your child will crave your attention whether it’s positive or negative.
It might not seem like it when your teen merely grunts at you in the passage, but all humans desire attention from those around them to some degree.
Try to fill their ‘attention bucket’ with positive attention.
If they only get your attention because they were behaving negatively, then that only reinforces that behavior.
4. You need to give them some power over their lives.
We’re all born with free will, so we need to find ways to give them age-appropriate choices.
The younger your child is, the easier this is of course. For example, you can give a small child the choice between an apple or an orange.
Older children could be allowed to choose a meal each week that they’d like to have.
The older they get these choices will look different and have more consequences.
In her 7-Step Parenting Success System, Amy shares some great tools on how to give your kids positive power, within our parental limits.
5. Consequences need to be clear and consistent
You need to set consequences upfront or discuss them clearly in a calm way if a particular behavior needs to be addressed.
The rules and the subsequent consequences need to be very clear, fair, and agreed upon.
If a rule is broken you have to follow through with the consequence.
If they argue, explain calmly that they know the rules and walk away.
Amy explains that consequences are not the only solution for diffusing power struggles. Consequences should only be used around 10% of the time.
She has 36 tools, like these, that will help you correct misbehavior.
Just this one webinar has already given us so much to work with and has shifted all our behavior patterns and responses for the better.
If you found this post helpful, then you’ll be happy to hear that Amy has heaps of free advice that she shares through her emails and webinars.
Amy offers an amazing course called The 7-Step Parenting Success System.
But do yourself a favor and sign up for the FREE webinar first and see if it helps you and your family.
I’m sure you’ll find some useful tools to help you manage teen back talk and become the parent you’ve always wanted to be.
Watch an interview with Amy McCready below on how and why she created The 7-Step Parenting Success System.
Get access to her free course HERE.
Please feel free to share your biggest parenting struggles in the comments below.
You might also want to read: How To Deal With Difficult Teenagers: 11 Proven Techniques