Saturday, April 7, 2012

Had Enough of the Backchat?

By Eirian Hallinan

Do you feel exasperated dealing with backchat and disrespectful behaviour from your children? It can be difficult to handle your children’s bad manners, rudeness, swearing, sarcasm or cheekiness and most parents complain about it at some point. Think about why your child might be behaving this way as there are
various reasons as to why it might be happening:

  • Your child is testing her boundaries and limitations
  • She may be emulating her friends
  • She may enjoy the guaranteed reaction from her bad behaviour whether it be shouting or laughing, it is all attention directed at her
  • Your child may feel that she is not being heard, that no one is listening to her or that she feels she is being treated unfairly. With mumbled comments, backchat and saying things under her breath this is usually the case

In terms of dealing with this behaviour there are some helpful tactics listed below:

  • If her rudeness is minor like sulking or fairly inoffensive backchat then it is best to ignore it and just say something like ‘I will not put up with being spoken to like that’ and then do not respond any further until she is communicating with you properly again
  • More offensive and rude behaviour can be dealt with using the ‘naughty-step’ technique. Tell your child that you will not tolerate such disrespectful behaviour and people do not speak to each other rudely in your family. Then take her to the naughty step
  • Do not laugh if your child is rude or cheeky as this communicates to her that she will receive positive attention for such behaviour and she will just repeat it
  • If your child is rude or is bad mannered to someone else in public take her aside and explain to her why her behaviour is unacceptable. Explaining why you disapprove of the way she has behaved offers her guidance. For e.g. ‘I noticed you ignored the librarian when she asked you to quieten down and I think this upset her as it was disrespectful. You must be more polite or we will have to leave play at the park to another day’

Children learn how to behave and treat other people by watching and emulating their parents and other adults around them. Remember the saying that ‘actions speak louder than words’?  The best way to show your kids how to be respectful, polite and considerate is to treat them in this way and let them see you treat other people in your family and everyday life this way. Also:

  • Continually but gently remind and guide her on appropriate behaviour and communication, when to say ‘thank you’ and when to say’ excuse me’
  • Do not make sarcastic, snide comments or put downs towards other people as she will notice this and imitate you thinking that it is acceptable to treat people this way
  • Be courteous, polite and well mannered and she will copy you
  • When you are correcting her do so in a firm, clear, calm and polite way
  • Respond positively to her good behaviour with approval, praise and affection
  • Keep an eye and ear out to what she is being exposed to on the television, radio and when she is with her friends
  • Make sure she feels listened to and encouraged to have an opinion that is valued

Eirian Hallinan has written numerous articles in the baby care field. She believes in healing naturally, first, especially when it comes to infant colic.


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