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How to stop the backtalk in an 8yo?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

My 8 yo son has always been a strong-willed limit-pusher. I've recently found some success with the book "Setting Limits With Your Strong Willed Child." BUT--the back talk from him is really getting to me. I try to ignore it, not engage him in the power struggle (the "family dance" the author calls it). But that leaves me feeling angry and bitter that someone is slinging verbal insults at me all day (we homeschool). 

 

I try to speak with kindness and respect, asking firmly but politely for things. Here's an example: "DS, please clear your lunch dishes." I have to ask him every. single. time. I am not rude about it even though I have to remind him EVERY day. Today, I asked him, and he hops around, wobbles his head, tries to do everything he can to make it clear to me that he is not listening. I am not going to budge because I now have to stand there until he does what I have asked. So I say, "What did I just ask you to do?" Not in a snotty way, but in a matter-of-fact way. (His OT suggested that having him say the words aloud may help him remember what he is doing and help him stay on track with tasks.) He ignores. I repeat it. Ignores again. I get frustrated and put on my "I'm-Mom-and-I'm-getting-annoyed-voice." So he says back, "I don't care," and walks off. 

 

I put him in his room for a cool-off (time out) and he just goes in there and listens to music and builds Legos. I am not feeling like he must be PUNISHED (in a power trippy sort of way), but he's not feeling any really consequence to his actions. I am trying to parent by teaching rather than punishing. I have also tried taking privileges and toys and nothing seems to get through to this kid. How can I teach him how to speak with kindness and respect? I model that behavior and it seems to make no difference. 

 

Some days it pushes me to anger and I raise my voice and some days (like today) it pushes me to tears. 

 

He really, truly, doesn't seem to care that he is treating me this way and it breaks my heart. 

post #2 of 22

Hiya.  I really feel for you.  There are some things we do that help though we have days that feel like this too.

 

I use the techniques in 'How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk'.  So instead of asking him to clear his dishes, I might say, 'Clearing your dishes into the sink means I can wash them for you.' - explaining why they need to be moved rather than just asking for it to be done.  If he ignored me, I'd be tempted to leave them on the table and explain that he couldn't have his dinner until there was space on the table for it.  I'd have it ready for him, expecting him to do it but if he's very stubborn it might take a while to sink in.

 

I'd leave a note - 'When you don't clear your plate, I feel like you don't appreciate that I cooked for you and am going to wash up after you.'

 

I'd try to remember to leave another note when he does do it, thanking him for being considerate.

 

I think the book has a good way of looking at consequences as genuinely linked to the thing that they're doing - relevant and directly related to it like not having room at the table rather than time out or removing a toy.  And opening up communication in new ways can reduce the amount of head butting we do with the kids.

post #3 of 22
I'd be tempted to tell him he can leave the table when he takes his dishes to the kitchen and puts them where you want them put. How much fun can it be to sit looking at empty dishes?
post #4 of 22

Why is he getting to play Legos when he's ignored what you've told him to do?  You need to set boundaries when he's 8, because a 13 yo. will be much harder to control if you haven't!  IMO, he shouldn't get to play (anything) until the dishes are put away.  I wouldn't put him in time-out, though.  He's a little old for that.  Just "the dishes will be cleared before you get to do anything else."  And mean it.  And give him a big hug and kiss and a big "thank you!" when he does clear the dishes.  

I explain to my son that he leaves more work for me when he doesn't do things himself, like pick up after himself.  That has helped a lot--he realizes it will be me who has to do the work otherwise, not some magic fairy that comes along and cleans.

 

Would it be easier for you to deal with him if you weren't homeschooling him?  At least if he went to school, he would have other adults whose expectations he needs to follow, as well.  

post #5 of 22
I had a big reply and accidentally lost it! I hate when that happens.

It was basically a suggestion to go to the library and check out a book called How to Talk To Kids So They'll Listen. I think the author's last name is Faber. It has techniques that seem to work pretty well for this age group, such as:

Describing what you see: "I see the dirty dishes are still on the table."

Using one word: "Dishes!"

Giving information: "Leaving dirty dishes out can lead to bugs infesting a house."

Waiting for the bus, which is like telling him to put away the dishes (maybe in one of the above ways) and then sitting there watching him, like you're looking down the street waiting for the bus, in an expectant way waiting for him to do it. It's surprising how well this sometimes works.

Sometimes these have to be done one after another, but they're pretty effective, or at least more effective than a lot of things, and less likely to lead to power struggles.

Some power struggles are par for the course with kids. It's their job to become more and more independent and power struggles are part of that. But they can sure get out of hand. I love that book and I wish I could remember off the top of my head all the suggestions.
post #6 of 22
I don't think homeschooling is the issue. One other poster mentioned it, and as a homeschooling mom, I felt I should respond to that.
post #7 of 22

And as a former HSing mom, I'd like to contribute that my son's behavior issues are precisely the reasons why I am NOT currently HSing.  Gotta have a moment to breathe somewhere!  :)

post #8 of 22

Just a quick one.  I think trying to make him do the things he's resisting has the potential to back-fire quite spectacularly if he's feeling resistant.  I'd let him leave the table but there's no reason that the dishes shouldn't still be there at the next meal time.  I'd be really good humoured about it - our eldest can be defiant but he really laughs if I challenge him like this - because he knows I'm right.  I'll get a 'doh' rather than a strop.

post #9 of 22
I just asked my son about this, with how does he think I would've handled it. He said I would have kept him at the table listening to an ongoing lecture until he decided that he would prefer to put an end to the lecture and take the dishes to the kitchen. As a teen, he's pretty good about doing what needs to be done. He does forget too often for my liking when the task is not immediate, but that's it.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

I don't think homeschooling is the issue. One other poster mentioned it, and as a homeschooling mom, I felt I should respond to that.

Thank you, pek64. Homeschooling here is *not* the issue. Him being rude and inconsiderate is. 

 

Thanks everyone for your great advice. "How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen" is a favorite of mine. Perhaps I need to re-read it. But I find that some of the suggestions in there are a little too abstract for my son. I feel that I usually get better results when I ask him directly to do something. And yes I do "wait for the bus" and stand there expecting him to comply. And he will do his best to ignore me, even try to leave the room, even though he knows I'm standing there putting my full attention on him. 

 

And I have tried that, just letting him leave the dishes and then showing him that there is no where to put his dinner. Sort of trying to let him deal with the consequences of not clearing his dishes. I like the idea of there being logical consequences to his actions. But here, the consequences are: leave the dishes, then there's no where to put your dinner, the rest of the family has to look at your used plate, there's nowhere to do homeschool. I feel like he's not really learning anything there, other that it's okay to procrastinate. 

 

Honestly, the problem is not him clearing the dishes, that's just one example I could think of. It's about him ignoring my requests and being flat-out rude to me when I ask him to take care of his *own* responsibilities. I get a lot of "it's not fair" and "I don't care" and "MOM!!!!!" I expect everyone in my house to speak with kindness and respect (myself included). I try to do that and I feel like he is rude with me quite often. 

 

A&A: I am *trying* to set boundaries here, that's the whole point of me repeating and following through on requests. I'm not "letting him play Legos" I'm attempting to send him to his room for a "cool-off/time out" because that's the only tool I have in my arsenal for dealing with him when he gets rude, obnoxious, and defiant. I agree that he shouldn't be doing anything until he has complied with my request, but how am I to "force" him to do as I ask? Reasoning with him doesn't work. If I told him that I would have to clear the dish if he didn't, he would honestly not care one iota. He'd be glad it wasn't him. He will literally leave the room as I am standing there asking him to do something. He will ignore me, leave the room, and go do what he wants. He is quite strong, physically, and I can't force the dish into his hands and make him walk to the kitchen. So what am I to do when he gives me "no" and walks away? I'm really out of ideas here. 

 

Anyway, I thank you all for your advice. I am starting to think that there are no magic words that will solve this problem. All I can do is be firm and consistent. But quite honestly, he just plain wears me out sometimes. 

post #11 of 22
Quite honestly, there never are magic words. Take comfort from the fact that he will grow up. Keep the faith, and stay persistent.

Sending him to his room doesn't seem to be helping, though, because that's where the Legos are, and no doubt for good reason. In a moment of calm (if you can find one), look for a new cooling off place. Other than that, remember, I've been there, so you're not entirely alone. Think back, once in a while, to compare his current behavior with past behavior. If there's slight improvement, keep working at it. If not, time to tweek.


Good luck!
post #12 of 22

I see two different issues in your post: him verbally insulting you and him not doing as he was told (cleaning the dishes).

 

In the first case, I would be very annoyed and would tell him verbal insults are not acceptable. He would get no bedtime story, I wouldn't play with him, not help him with bath time or homework or anything else until he apologizes and behaves respectfully. I would explain to him that I'm hurt and I can't be nice to him unless he is nice to me.

 

The second situation is not disrespect, but something you want (need) him to do and he doesn't. It used to happen quite a lot here with my soon-to-be 8 y/o. I found that the best way to get a response from him is to tell him once: ds, you need to clear your lunch dishes, and then walk away. This is very powerful. And when he wants to play or do any other activity, you can tell him: nope, you can't, the dishes are still on the table. Just be calm, don't nag him and he'll do what he has to do eventually. Go about your business, read a book, you don't have to stay in the kitchen until he cleans his dishes, you'll be surprised to see what he can do when he sees he can't get to you.

 

Your ds says: I don't care, and you send him to his room to cool off. It seems to me that he's the calm one and you need to cool off. It's very frustrating and annoying, I know.
 

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

Quite honestly, there never are magic words. Take comfort from the fact that he will grow up. Keep the faith, and stay persistent.

Sending him to his room doesn't seem to be helping, though, because that's where the Legos are, and no doubt for good reason. In a moment of calm (if you can find one), look for a new cooling off place. Other than that, remember, I've been there, so you're not entirely alone. Think back, once in a while, to compare his current behavior with past behavior. If there's slight improvement, keep working at it. If not, time to tweek.


Good luck!

 

THANK YOU! Just what I needed to hear. 

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by transylvania_mom View Post

I see two different issues in your post: him verbally insulting you and him not doing as he was told (cleaning the dishes).

 

In the first case, I would be very annoyed and would tell him verbal insults are not acceptable. He would get no bedtime story, I wouldn't play with him, not help him with bath time or homework or anything else until he apologizes and behaves respectfully. I would explain to him that I'm hurt and I can't be nice to him unless he is nice to me.

 

The second situation is not disrespect, but something you want (need) him to do and he doesn't. It used to happen quite a lot here with my soon-to-be 8 y/o. I found that the best way to get a response from him is to tell him once: ds, you need to clear your lunch dishes, and then walk away. This is very powerful. And when he wants to play or do any other activity, you can tell him: nope, you can't, the dishes are still on the table. Just be calm, don't nag him and he'll do what he has to do eventually. Go about your business, read a book, you don't have to stay in the kitchen until he cleans his dishes, you'll be surprised to see what he can do when he sees he can't get to you.

 

Your ds says: I don't care, and you send him to his room to cool off. It seems to me that he's the calm one and you need to cool off. It's very frustrating and annoying, I know.
 

I've tried that. When I walk away, he does too and then learns that he does not have to do anything the first time I ask. Then it turns into a big power struggle of "who's going to crack first." That has led to more problems.

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaScout View Post

I've tried that. When I walk away, he does too and then learns that he does not have to do anything the first time I ask. Then it turns into a big power struggle of "who's going to crack first." That has led to more problems.


Not if he can't do another activity unless he finishes the first one. In this case, I would be tempted to leave his dirty dishes on the table until supper, then I would sit with the family at the table and tell him: sorry honey, you didn't clear your dishes so you'll have to clear them now and put clean dishes on the table and help yourself to supper.

It doesn't become a power struggle if you disengage.

post #16 of 22

First of all .... he cares a lot ..... you did not say if he has any outside friend's to relate to ..... sometimes you can get a little too close. I know when i see my grand children day after day they react different when i tell them to clean up. Young children go through many stages in life and you are experiencing some of them .... they hear and absorb all you say although most of the time they don't show it ... it all comes out later .... hopefully. good luck .... it gets better when they reach early 20's.

post #17 of 22
Have you tried something a little playful? I tell my dd her servant didn't show up for work today so I needs her to clean up after herself. Talking to him about how frustrated you feel because this issue is causing both of you to get mad might help too especially if you ask him to come up with solutions.
post #18 of 22
Another suggestion is to set up an activity he would be interested in doing, but he cannot until he takes his dishes into the kitchen. The idea is to create a win/win, where he *wants* to take the dishes (or whatever).
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaScout View Post

I've tried that. When I walk away, he does too and then learns that he does not have to do anything the first time I ask. Then it turns into a big power struggle of "who's going to crack first." That has led to more problems.

 

It sounds like it is already a big power struggle of who is going to crack first, and he's winning and you're posting for help.

 

I see that there are two issues: One, getting him to comply on the first request, and secondly, getting him to stop saying mean and rude things to you. From your examples, it sounds like the second issue would stop if you didn't make any requests of him. Unless he is saying disrespectful things at other times for a reason other than not wanting to comply. So unless he is in general disrespectful, then it does sound like the real issue is respectful compliance to reasonable requests.

 

As I see it, you have a few options:

 

1. Make a request, follow through to make sure it is completed, and apply consequences if it is not (within a reasonable time, say four minutes). Add additional consequences for additional disrespectful behavior. He escalates, you escalate the consequences.

 

2. Make a request and follow through on compliance to the request, ignore the backtalk, and thank him for the compliance.

 

3. Make a request and ignore the lack of compliance and follow through on the backtalk ("I see you are choosing to not bring your plate to the sink; but you MAY NOT talk to me that way so you need to do X until you can speak nicely to me")

 

4. Make suggestions, ask for his help, but do not require compliance and let it go or do it yourself if he does not do it. ("I see you didn't take your plate to the sink; I'll do it for you").

 

If you choose escalating consequences for non-compliance and disrespect, then I would suggest going whole-hog and starting from the beginning. If he does not comply, he gets a time out. Each time he is rude or non-compliant, he loses one toy from his room, until the room is empty except for the bed and clothes and time out really is time out. Then he can earn back ONE toy when he goes an entire day not refusing any requests and not engaging in any backtalk. Some children are so super-sensitive to what they perceive as attacks on their autonomy that they will sit in an empty room for hours rather than do what you have asked. Hopefully he is not one of these children.

 

Numbers 2 or 3 are about focusing on one thing that you have decided is most important (either backtalk OR compliance but not both), letting the second thing go for now to work on later once he gets a lot better on the first thing.

 

Number 4 is about prioritizing the attachment between you two, focusing mainly on your relationship and making sure it is strong and loving, and choosing to make it more important than compliance at this time. Its accepting that he might be emotionally much younger than he is chronologically, and responding to his emotional needs as though he were 2 or 3, in which you don't really force compliance but do it with him even if it means you do most of the work. If you feel he is a neurotypical child without anything resembling oppositional defiant disorder this is what I would choose, because it sounds like the attachment between you two is a little shaky, at least from his point of view (he feels entirely justified in treating you badly).

post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaScout View Post

I've tried that. When I walk away, he does too and then learns that he does not have to do anything the first time I ask. Then it turns into a big power struggle of "who's going to crack first." That has led to more problems.

 

It sounds like it is already a big power struggle of who is going to crack first, and he's winning and you're posting for help.

 

I see that there are two issues: One, getting him to comply on the first request, and secondly, getting him to stop saying mean and rude things to you. From your examples, it sounds like the second issue would stop if you didn't make any requests of him. Unless he is saying disrespectful things at other times for a reason other than not wanting to comply. So unless he is in general disrespectful, then it does sound like the real issue is respectful compliance to reasonable requests.

 

As I see it, you have a few options:

 

1. Make a request, follow through to make sure it is completed, and apply consequences if it is not (within a reasonable time, say four minutes). Add additional consequences for additional disrespectful behavior. He escalates, you escalate the consequences.

 

2. Make a request and follow through on compliance to the request, ignore the backtalk, and thank him for the compliance.

 

3. Make a request and ignore the lack of compliance and follow through on the backtalk ("I see you are choosing to not bring your plate to the sink; but you MAY NOT talk to me that way so you need to do X until you can speak nicely to me")

 

4. Make suggestions, ask for his help, but do not require compliance and let it go or do it yourself if he does not do it. ("I see you didn't take your plate to the sink; I'll do it for you").

 

If you choose escalating consequences for non-compliance and disrespect, then I would suggest going whole-hog and starting from the beginning. If he does not comply, he gets a time out. Each time he is rude or non-compliant, he loses one toy from his room, until the room is empty except for the bed and clothes and time out really is time out. Then he can earn back ONE toy when he goes an entire day not refusing any requests and not engaging in any backtalk. Some children are so super-sensitive to what they perceive as attacks on their autonomy that they will sit in an empty room for hours rather than do what you have asked. Hopefully he is not one of these children.

 

Numbers 2 or 3 are about focusing on one thing that you have decided is most important (either backtalk OR compliance but not both), letting the second thing go for now to work on later once he gets a lot better on the first thing.

 

Number 4 is about prioritizing the attachment between you two, focusing mainly on your relationship and making sure it is strong and loving, and choosing to make it more important than compliance at this time. Its accepting that he might be emotionally much younger than he is chronologically, and responding to his emotional needs as though he were 2 or 3, in which you don't really force compliance but do it with him even if it means you do most of the work. If you feel he is a neurotypical child without anything resembling oppositional defiant disorder this is what I would choose, because it sounds like the attachment between you two is a little shaky, at least from his point of view (he feels entirely justified in treating you badly).


THANK YOU!!!  You've narrowed it down nicely. And you are 100% right. It's about respectful compliance to reasonable requests. YES! joy.gif

 

Yes, I feel he is emotionally younger than his age. He does not have ODD--he's been tested, though! I honestly don't know how our attachment could be shaky. I've done it all: BF, cosleeping, babywearing, homeschooling, etc. We are together constantly and I do my best to parent mindfully. But no, he is not neurotypical, he has SPD and though he is brilliant and his intelligence is off the charts, he is emotionally lagging. We've been told this by several professionals. Obviously this is a deeper issue than I have the space to discuss.  I just want to figure out how I can reach this kid who, as you put it, feels entirely justified in treating me badly. I know that in young children parts of the brain are undeveloped, that I should be patient and understanding. However, I feel I repeat myself in a kind way 1,000s of times with no result. I am only human and sometimes it hurts to be treated this way. I will try your ideas and see where it gets us. Thank you so much, BellinghamCrunchie!!

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