Talking back. Most parents hate it. It pushes buttons and drives one crazy.
This is an issue I have with both of my children. My son is 8 and likes to negotiate everything from punishments to when he can stop playing legos and go to bed. My daughter, who is 6, does what she wants to do and trying to stop her in the middle of her imagination induced play is nearly impossible.
When I tell them it is time to do something, I hear, “why” or “not right now.” This is enough to make any parent lose their cool and responding calmly can be tough.
However, what if pushing or talking back is actually good for childhood development?
The experts agree this behavior is actually developmentally healthy for kids. Clinical psychologist Kelly M. Flanagan explains that “the inability to say “No” — the inability to set personal boundaries — is one of the most common, insidious causes of human suffering.“
Psychologist Joseph P. Allen, who headed a study at the University of Virginia, says: “We tell parents to think of those arguments not as a nuisance but as a critical training ground.” (Yahoo)
Kids push back when they are trying to gain some control over their lives. Negotiating is a critical skill adults need to possess, and children are just practicing with their parents. It is better they practice with a parent than blindly follow an adult or peer into trouble.
How they Push Back
Focus on how they push back. We all want our children to be able to stand up to peer pressure and decide the route that is best for them. But, teaching respect is key.
The truth is — it is NOT whether they push back that speaks to your authority. They are kids. They are going to push back. That is their job. Your power lies in HOW they push back, and in HOW you respond to them.
Are you teaching your child to challenge you with respect? Are you setting expectations (and positive examples) for appropriate communication? Do you help them understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions?
Your children’s ability to negotiate risky or adverse circumstances improves when you teach them to exercise control with self-awareness, respect, grace and calm. (Yahoo)
Who is in Control?
When children talk back, no matter what the age, we as parents feel insecure about our competence as parents.
Most parents want a base amount of control in the parent-child relationship. They want the child to respond when spoken too quickly and courteously. Just like is was for the parent growing up. Life is easier, in the short term, if children just do what they are told and never fight back.
However, this is a false sense of control and children are not here just to follow orders and obey. They all have their own paths to follow, and they need to discover who they are. Talking back is just a way of expressing themselves, and it is natural.
We, adults, talk back all the time, we just call it negotiating. Many adults do not see this and some never will.
What Your Child Wants You to Know
The message is the same:
They are independent beings with their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. They are on their own path. Moreover, while it is your privilege supervising them on their journey, their journey is still their own, not yours.
For kids to grow into healthy, independent adults, they need to practice making decisions for themselves, and negotiating for what they want — even if what they want seems absurd or unimportant to you. Because, it is not about you.
If they can negotiate feeding the dog at 7:00 pm instead of 6:30 pm now, they are better prepared to negotiate with their college professors, with their manager at work, and with a spouse or partner at home in their future. (Yahoo)
The only way for children to become successful is for them to learn about themselves early. Their dreams desire, and what they love to do.
It is important to remember that you are raising future adults, not little minions to follow one’s every command.