14year old girl back talking..... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-20-2013, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello! I'm new to mothering, but have a question. ... my daughter has been talking back a lot lately. I have grounded her and taken her cell phone, but to no avail. She's always been a stubborn child. I mean even from birth. I need some suggestions on how to curve this issue. Everytime she starts to back talk I immediately let her have a little reminder that she's overstepping her boundaries and that's how she gets in trouble, but sometimes she doesn't heed my warning. The other problem is some of the back talk is valid points. I've always taught her to be a strong individual. Help....
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#2 of 5 Old 07-20-2013, 08:02 AM
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I do not have a teenager yet so take that this with a grain of salt. But I was a social worker and worked with a group of teenage girls so I do have that experience.

If the back talk is valid then I would not think of it as "back talk" but just her asserting herself, which I think is a good thing. I would try to listen to it and act accordingly, trying not to take her "tone" personally. I can imagine that is difficult!!! But validating her point, if it is valid, will do a lot for your relationship with her. She will trust you to listen and consider her opinion which is important.

If her back talk isn't valid I would still do my best to try and not take it personally. I would validated her FEELINGS (example: "You feel angry because I told you to wash the dishes, but this is something I really need your help with blah blah blah). Even if you think her feelings have no merit, they are real to her. People in general seem to perk up when their feelings are validated whether they are children, teens or adults. Think about an argument you have had as an adult, perhaps with your significant other. What difference would it make if he/she validated how you felt, even if you were being irrational at the moment? Everyone is the same, we all just want to be "heard". Does that make sense? It doesn't mean giving in to whatever she wants or doesn't want, it just means acknoledging that she has the right to feel upset about it.

There are different opinions on discipline in this forum as you will surely find out. For me, consequences should be natural and used sparingly. By natural I mean "the time should fit the crime" LOL. For example, taking her cell phone away for back talking may not really make sense to her because it has nothing to do with what she did, it's just an arbitrary consequence that she doesn't like. Maybe there is something else that makes more sense and has to do with the actual problem at hand? To be quite honest I have no idea what that would be. It would take some creativity on your part. Another alternative would be to scrap consequences all together and ramp up the communication between the two of you. Talk to her about the incident when she's in a good space, just as you might do with your significant other. Come to think of it, ramping up the communication is a good idea whether you continue with consequences or not.

I hope all this makes sense and doesn't sound judgemental in any way. Like I said, I don't have a teenager!! There are lots of mamas on this board that do and many of them should have some great advice as well as book recommendations. Good luck!!!

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#3 of 5 Old 07-20-2013, 12:24 PM
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Dalia has some very good advice. 


I have 2 dc, one who is in his 20's now and the other is 17.  We've never had a problem with back talk. I wonder if that's because I've never framed it as "back talk" but rather as "talk" - and we were always willing to listen and hear what they were saying. 


If you wanted your Dd to be a strong individual, then you wanted her to be a person with her own ideas and plans. It also means you wanted someone with whom you would negotiate and find mutually agreeable solutions, not someone who would mindlessly comply with your every thought and obey your every request. 


The risk when you use power (such as grounding and taking away a cell phone) to force compliance is that it will only be a temporary victory and will inevitably breed resentment and hostility. Children learn that that's how to win an argument. Unfortunately, for many teens, the only power they have is emotional power. So that's what they use and it wreaks havoc on family relationships. 


Teens haven't always figured out the negotiation part of a relationship. They need some mature guidance in how to communicate effectively. They need to learn things like - Don't scream because the loudest person isn't the most rightful person. Don't use sarcasm or insults or ad hominem attacks because they reflect badly on the person who resorts to such lazy tactics to overcome opposition. Instead use well-reasoned, compelling explanations to persuade the other person to understand objections and reach some agreement. They will only really learn this if you are willing to listen to those explanations, understand those objections and negotiate.  


Being a role model for this kind of relationship and communication and negotiation can be a real challenge. They seem to know exactly what to say and how to say it to make you forget all that good stuff and resort to a knee-jerk "because I said so". 


When my dc were very young, I tried to avoid whining by cutting it off immediately and saying "I can't understand you when you talk like that. Tell me what's troubling you but use your regular voice". In the same way, I try to respond to the upset/anger/resentment that generates "back talk" by re-framing it from an argument into a discussion. 


Deep breathing helps. Counting to 10 (or 100 or 1000) before you respond to "back talk" helps too. 

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#4 of 5 Old 07-20-2013, 04:52 PM
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Agree with the above posters. 


When DD hit the "tweens" there was "back talk" and I responded by letting it get me all riled up and all it did was have us fighting with each other. Fortunately I realized very quickly that we were heading down a path I did not want to take, so I worked hard to change what I was doing. 


I now recognize back talk for what it is: a child who is trying to communicate but failing because a) they are too immature, b) they aren't able to control the strong emotions they are feeling at the time, or c) they are trying to advocate for themselves but don't know how to do it any other way (or even other reasons). So now I see past the back talk and try to figure out what she is saying. In the moment I don't comment on the back talk, I just try to figure out what is bothering her, I listen and I validate.


As Dalia said, there is immense power in validating what someone else is feeling. It removes the "battle" atmosphere from dialogue and sets up an environment of "hey, I'm hear to help you". 


Later, when the heat of the moment is past, we will discuss HOW she said what she needed to say. I might point out that she came across as rude and disrespectful, not in a judgemental way, but in a "hey, FYI" way. Then we'll try to come up with a different way she could have gotten her point across. This type of "practice" assumes that the child is not trying to be rude or disrespectful, but is overcome with emotions and doesn't really know a better way to express them (even adults struggle with that from time to time). It turns me from jailor into coach, and that's the job I'd much rather have. ;-)


I also couldn't agree more with what ollyoxenfree said about punishing, taking away cell phone, etc. All you do is make yourself the enemy in your child's eye. No matter how much they may have "deserved" it, punishment puts people on the defensive and makes them angry. They cannot reflect on what they have done in such an environment. 


And, I feel that as the parent, I am supposed to help her when she makes mistakes and screws up, show her a better way, show her unconditional love. That doesn't mean that kids can't take responsibility for their mistakes, but rather than you imposing a punishment, ask your DD how SHE thinks she could "make it right". It's a great exercise for the kids, and it doesn't make you the bad guy. The kids are much more likely to get meaning from being involved in the solution than having it imposed upon them. 



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#5 of 5 Old 07-21-2013, 06:22 AM
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It looks like others have covered this well. I just wanted to throw in another voice for working with the content while addressing the delivery method. 


The most important thing that I do is to not engage and to not take her attitude personally. I don't always keep the neutral distance, of course. But just like when they were toddlers, if a kid throwing a tantrum is a huge disruption for me emotionally, there's something I need to do to build myself up.

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