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Talking Back Child:

My son turned 6 yesterday and is in kindergarten this year.  I have noticed he has been talking back more since starting school.  I know this is a normal part of his trying to exert his independence.  My question is:  What do I do about it?  Is it better to just ignore it and not lend any attention to it or should we give consequences?

This is a long and difficult question and answer.  And there are as many approaches as there are families.  It is important that kids speak their mind and voice an opinion.  Learn to think for themselves instead of just swallowing whatever is fed them.  But there is a difference between voicing their opinion and "talking back" ugly.  When they are getting ugly, ask them to calm down and lets talk about this in a nicer tone or we will have to end this conversation.
 
Children cannot control their emotions and even we have a hard time controlling our temper when in a heated discussion. Think about when there is a young 20+ year old in your office or place of work.  They get upset about little things and you are saying calm down.  It's not that big a deal.  Every 10 years of our lives we get better at keeping calm in a heated confrontation.  That is why we elect a 50+ yr old gomer as president of the United States so he does not get ticked off some day and push the button.  He will be calm and hopefully make a mature decision with out flying off the handle like a younger person.  So teenagers get upset quickly and definitely a grade school child.  But the more he practices having an argument the more he will be able to control himself when he does get into one.  So having an "argument" with your child and you showing him how to stay in control will help him.  But not if you get upset. 
 
Decide how much you will tolerate in disrespectfulness and when he crosses that line tell him he must not talk that way.  Please calm down and talk nicer and if he continues, walk off.  Or maybe send him to his room.  If again you get extremely upset and yell, then you are not setting the proper example and that maybe what he was trying to do.... to make you angry.  Don't be afraid to be stern with your child but not out of control angry and hateful. 
 
This is very difficult.  We feel challenged in our authority and control.  But you will still have the rules and he still has to obey them.  He will release the tension that he has inside.  Your children have to act nice all day at school and come home after going all day being nice to ugly people and to a condescending teacher.  Just as you come home from work and "take it out" on your spouse.  And thank goodness we have our family to do this with.  If we cannot let out our frustrations anywhere, then it comes out at spontaneous times and he blows up at school or church or grandparents ..... or we eventually load up a gun and take it to school/work .... or worse use it at home.  We have to be the release valve of our spouse's and children's tensions. So a sad fact is "we behave the worse for the people we love the most."   You probably notice you treat other children who come over to your house better than you do your own child!!!  That is why people get divorces.  "My wife is such a bitch and this lady at work is so sweet.  Then you leave for the other woman and find out it is the same after you get married to her."  So let your spouse and child blow off steam. 
 
Choose your battles.  If your kid wants to think the moon is square, who cares and don't argue.  (I like to say "Whatever" and walk away.  Makes them angry instead of me being angry.)  When he gets older he will realize he was wrong.  Or you can say "Well you can think it is square but everyone else thinks it is round."  If he thinks it is cool to smoke, then firmly disagree.  Many times we get into horrendous arguments with yelling and tears over some little thing and later think .... "That big argument was not worth the insignificant point you were making.". 
 
I am sorry I am rambling and this is a short synopsis of what huge books are written about.  I used to think it was the fault of kindergarten teachers that these kids get mouthy at this age.  I think it is just the age.  Terrible twos and temper tantrums start at 9 months.  It just hits it's peak at 2 and then by 4 yrs old they are nice.  You should enjoy that year because I swear teen rebellion starts at 6 and just hits it's peak by teens.  Then by your 20s you realize your parents learned allot.  So this will get worse before it gets better.  There are many books about this.  Read.
 
Dr. Knapp