Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Talking Back - Jest to Pest

Every child slips up and answers back when told to do something.  Harmless at first as a mere joke or playful banter, answering back quickly becomes a serious and dangerous habit.  Whether it consists of stuck-out tongues, battering with pillows, or verbal responses, talking back is a habit better not formed.  If a child begins in fun, they develop the habit quickly until answering back becomes second nature.  Regardless of their excuse of "I was only joking," answering back evolves into a highly disrespectful attitude.  This character flaw escalates until every time an adult asks/tells the child to do something, an unnecessary and disrespectful reply comes back.  

How does it come about?  As I said before, most often a severe case of "talking back" evolves from jesting responses when a child doesn't really want to do something, but they're going to do it anyways.  These comments include: "I'm not going to."  "You can't make me."  "I don't care."  "I don't want to."  Etc.  I could list numerous counts of talking back, but I don't want to bore y'all.  

When is it addressed?  Occasionally a child has a genuine slip of the tongue and something pops out that they honestly didn't mean to say.  It happens to everyone.  If your child slips up only once or twice, don't worry too much about a bad habit being formed.  If, on the other hand, your child begins retorting to your every instruction, you need to take action immediately.

I prefer the liquid soap.  It's harder to get the taste out of your mouth.
How is it stopped?  First, the child needs to understand what talking back entails.  Basically, the only correct response to a parent/authority figure's request, instruction, or command is "Yes, ma'am/sir/mom/dad."  There should be no complaints or excuses.  No smart aleck retorts.  No rolled eyes or stuck-out tongues.  No nasty tone of voice.  A simple YES.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Implementing this response early on reaps huge rewards.  It becomes harder to institute the older a child gets unless begun at an early age.  Nevertheless, it should be implemented immediately.  Next, now that the child understands what talking back means, punishment for disrespectful behavior must ensue.  A favorite method of mine is washing out the child's mouth with soap.  It's fast and disgusting to taste.  Most kids will think twice before talking back if they know a nasty taste will enter their mouth.  I understand this method is not for everyone.  I've heard the rants against toxins and cruelty towards children, etc.  Buy some organic soap and put it to good use.  If this really doesn't work for your family, find some other means of distasteful punishment.  There are numerous mixtures that are perfectly harmless and perfectly disgusting.  Vinegar.  Salt water.  Mouthwash.  Make them gargle one of these, and the talking back should diminish after a few tries.  I've always abhorred the taste of any of the aforementioned liquids, and I know kids detest them.  Regardless of your particular method, let the punishment fit the crime.  Since talking back is a sin of the mouth, the punishment should wash it clean (ergo my high approval of actual soap).  

Talking back is an easy habit to pick up and a hard one to stop.  If it runs rampant and unchecked, your child will (most likely) grow up into a sarcastic person with no respect whatsoever for authority of any kind.  And we all know that an attitude of this kind will never help them succeed in the real world.  Deal with the problem now, regardless of the trouble you will inevitably have.  You'll thank yourself and bless your children tenfold at least.

1 comment:

  1. I have noticed that this is something even grown ups do quite often, especially if bantering among friends: the whole "could you do 'X' for me?" followed by the flippant "No" reply, though 'X' is actually done by the addressee. Something worth pondering, how our actions affect the behaviour of children.