Talking Back and What to Do About It


“Talking back” seems to be something I see getting press in more and more mainstream American parenting articles, with comments something along the lines of, “We expect teenagers to talk back, but we don’t expect six-year-olds to talk back and this is really infiltrating down and down into younger and younger ages.”

I think this is an accurate depiction of what is going on in American society at least.  I am hearing from parents about talking back and what to do about it from about age five or six on up.

So, How Did We Get Here?

In general, I think part of what has gotten us to this point is that authority in general in society has changed, especially since the 1960s.  No longer are there figures of complete authority to obey without question and children see this in society.  I am not saying these changes are bad!  However, they do lead children to “question” authority more than before, and to also lead parents to be fearful of being an authority, because in our generation’s history this has often been linked with abuse of power and unfairness. Parents seem to walk a difficult line these days in regard to their views of authority and what that means in leading their own family.

The other large change has been the seeping of adulthood down into childhood, including the sheer number of choices a child has, the sheer power of decision-making a child has within the family structure and an awareness of the stress and pressures of the adults in the family.  Related to this has been the seeping of the adult world of information down to the child’s level.

Many American families I speak with feel that part of their children’s talking back is related to that child feeling entitled to experiences or things.  If you feel there is a correlation there, I would love to hear from you in the comment box!

For What Ages Is Talking Back the Biggest Problem?

From my mail, I am judging most parents are having difficulty with talking back during the six/seven year change, age eight (the age of boasting and bragging and exaggeration), and the years marketed as the “preteen years” – ages 10-12.  Surprisingly, I don’t get a lot of mail from parents being frustrated with their teenager’s talk.  I am not sure if that is because the talking back has actually died down at that age, or if parents are just used to it or something else.  Again, I would love to hear from you in the comment box!

What Can I Do To Figure Out Where We Are Right Now?

  • Always go back to the basics, especially for those under the age of 12.  Are they overbooked and overscheduled?  Too many choices and just generally holding too many opinions/ too much power?  Are they getting enough sleep, rest, time for unstructured play, eating whole and healthy foods?
  • What are your rules?  What exactly constitutes talking back by your child to you?  Does your child know what talking back really is and when they are doing it?
  • How are you treating them?  What kind of a model are you with them?  If you are constantly sarcastic and snippy with them, then that is their model.  That is exactly what they will parrot back to you.  Are you respectful and polite as well?
  • Are they more connected to their peers than to the family unit?  The privileges of a sixteen or seventeen year old  and the schedule of a sixteen or seventeen year old are not the privileges or schedule a ten year old should be having.  If you need help knowing what is appropriate for a ten year old versus an older child, please leave me a comment and I will be happy to dialogue with you.
  • What is their media intake?  Unfortunately, many of the nicer “family” shows that used to be on television or in the movies are long gone.  Today’s media often portrays a family where the children are snippy to their parents and seem to know much more than their hapless, bumbling parents.  The fathers are typically portrayed as extra bumbling.  Portrayals such as these really have not helped our society as a whole.

So What Can I Do?

  • Spend time with your children doing things together and listening to your child.  Get to know your child.  If you don’t know who your child’s friends are, their favorite book, their favorite and least favorite class at school, their hopes and fears, then build that foundation so you can talk respectfully about how to treat each other in your family.
  • Model what you want to see.
  • Create a family identity.  This is what it means to be part of this family, “I love you, I have your back, I will always help you”.  You are part of this family, you matter and your behavior matters in and outside of this home.
  • Notice the good and connect in that moment.
  • You can attribute positive intent when children talk back and help them say what they need to say in a respectful way.  “You seem really upset….”  You can validate their feelings even if you cannot validate how they are speaking to you.
  • Take stock of how many nice things you say to your child a day.  Do you say anything nice to your child? Some parents feel ashamed when they tell me they really couldn’t think of the last nice thing they said to their child.
  • Explain once in reply, and then do not engage in any back and forth verbal banter with your child.  Just shut it down.  GIve your child your full attention again when things are calm.
  • Past the nine year change:  Start to give your child the tools to deal with anger  and frustration besides verbally and emotionally lashing out.  For younger children, redirect them into work or being right by you.
  • Remind politely how to request something or how to say things.
  • Cut down on media, adult information overload and  yes, even peer time until things are stabilized.
  • Figure out your boundaries  and what will happen when those boundaries are broken.
  • Sometimes talking back is just talking back, but sometimes it is the surface tension of a child who feels overpowered, frustruated, not listened to and unloved.  Only you can decide if  you need some positive connection time or if you need more  boundaries?
  • If a child is cursing you, calling you names, threatening you – that is not “talking back”.  That is abuse, and I highly recommend family counseling.


I want to hear your experiences and thoughts about talking back!

Blessings and love,

21 thoughts on “Talking Back and What to Do About It

  1. For sure, it feels like they feel entitled. The Right to choose or dispute or voice complaint. We often say, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” But sometimes, when there is time and energy they do get to choose or say if they’d prefer a pink straw instead of a blue one. So I see how it’s hard to know, for them, when “what I say is what goes” and when “sure, whatever you prefer dear.” I do notice that more Media makes the problem worse. There are friends who also model back talk and time with those friends does rub off.
    I think what I dislike most is how defensive I get. Usually if it’s a meal time and I’m busy. I begin to idealize the 1890’s ideas of “don’t speak unless spoken to” or “children should be seen and not heard.” I don’t really agree with those ideas, but I see how clear and consistent expectations may be easier than this….”sometimes you can back talk and other times you can’t”.
    I was ecouraged at your reminder to be polite and use kind words. Just because we are an authority doesn’t me we need to be authoritative in tone. Also, allowing freedom where possible, (let them pick the straw to start with) and making it calmly and firmly clear when sassy is not an option.
    As, we allow lots of free play in our family, sometimes I find myself only intervening for corrections. Remembering to lavish on the love and affirmation in my conversation is helpful.

  2. Hi Carrie, thank you for this timely post and for all of your posts, my husband and I read almost every one. My children (just 7 and 4.5) are in an amazing Waldorf school in southern England. My son (just 7) for the past 6 months or so has been sometimes lashing out verbally at us and his little sister when things do not go the way he’d like them to or if he feels like he is in a stressful family situation (someone is ill or we are lost in traffic, etc. family scenarios where maybe he doesn’t feel secure that we have things completely under control) If we set a firm limit on an action or behavior, he will respond along the lines of “I hate you”, “I’m going to kill you”, “shut up” and even cursing us at times. He has NEVER been spoken to this way in our home. He hears, I am hopeful, very little of this kind of talk at school. He does not have access to media except rarely in a very supervised environment. We have attachment parented, used NVC, hand in hand parenting techniques, anything we can think of to stop this upsetting, ugly language (short of spanking, soap in the mouth, etc) to no avail. His sister does not use these words. He gets plenty of sleep, eats a healthy organic diet, gets plenty of free time to play and exercise. My husband and I are concerned about where this is coming from and how we can stop it but we differ in that I want to seek counseling and he does not yet want to take that path. He believes that if we can consistently remain calm and above the fray during these tirades, without inputting any of our emotions, things will change. I like your idea about creating a family identity because at times we have used that idea but in a negative way – “you have to stop speaking to your family this way, we don’t like it” (maybe excluding him instead of including if that makes sense). I guess I am wondering, based on your last comment about the counseling, if searching out the right counselor, spending large amounts of money on therapy, if all that can, in your opinion, be done at home in a case like our, maybe we havent found the right tools? I am also interested in your take on child development at this age – is this something that with loving kindness and firm “please don’t speak that way to me” limits that will pass?
    Thanks so much!

    • Eliza,
      I probably wouldn’t think counseling for this early age unless it feels like a daily occurrence. It could be just a phase and he is trying out these things for shock value. The “I hate you” and even the “I’m going to kill you” can be fairly common for that age; the shut up and cursing less so for that age – I typically hear about it from parents with children who are nine/ten or older. If he just turned seven, however, he could be more in the brashness of a six year old. Back posts about the six/seven year change could also be helpful here.
      I guess I would have to try several things to see what worked best – one method could be just to be very ho hum and see if it deflates the power of using those words, sort of like what your husband is saying. Sometimes the father-son relationship can be helpful as well. It might help for your husband to have a talk with your son about how he speaks when he is upset. This is bringing an awareness to it, but it sounds as if an awareness has already been raised and he seems to know he is doing it. Sometimes a private father-son walk or going out to eat just the two of them can be a great time to do this – again, after an episode has occurred and things are now calm. They can talk about what the expectation is for how he will behave in a car, (safety, hard to drive with a tirade going on!) or even how he behaves in front of ladies? I know that last statement, the ladies part, sounds super old fashioned, but I admit our family is totally old fashioned and that would be a discussion my husband would have with our son when he was the right age. It may not feel comfortable to you to divide by gender like that, so meditate on it and see what you think about it. You will find the right way to talk about it.
      I don’t know as saying you don’t like it as a family is really enough. It seems to me there needs to be some kind of action. So, what are the repercussions after this kind of talk or tirade? Does he have to go to bed early? Does he not get to see friends? What does he have to do to make it right with the people in his family? Does he have to work around the home doing something for the people that had to listen to the tirade of nasty words coming from his mouth? If he is home and this occurs, does he have to go to his room or another place to cool off and gather himself? If it is in the car, do you pull over until he stops? I would set forth the consequences ahead of time, write it down, so all was clear with everyone, including him, before another episode occurs, with essentially an idea that you are going to help him start to learn to control his mouth because he getting to be older and this is part of being older. He is not four like his sister, and he is still little but he is in the grades, yes? You can really help guide him here, but his words are by no means or way acceptable. I would reassure him that you love him to pieces and that you understand sometimes things don’t go the way he thinks it should – life is about Plan B, after all- but this behavior will be met with things for him to do, restitution as it were, as it is not okay.
      Does that help at all? You and your husband are the experts on your own son and you know what he will respond to best, so meditate on it and see what resonates with you.

  3. Eliza,
    I switched on the computer today hoping to find some pointers about what might be happening with my son’s behaviour, and there was Carrie’s post about talkback and your comment that describes word for word EXACTLY what is going on with my son. Same parameters too – he just turned 7, goes to a Waldorf school, eats a healthy diet, has enough time for rest and play. And yes, for the past week since second term started the verbal lashing out, the “shut up”, “I’m going to kill you”, “I hate you” and sometimes cursing has been predominating.

    I’m tying this in to the pressures at school – the peer pressure, the wanting to fit in and find a place within a group, the push and pull of emotions while interacting with other 7 year olds who I assume are also at a volatile mouthy phase and imitating some of that to gain ground, adopting what he sees as “power” – his teacher has a reputation for being somewhat short-tempered and yelling on occasion, so he might be seeing that as a “power” behaviour that gets results. It’s never easy to grow up, and he’s probably doing the best he can with his developing ego.

    Carrie, I have been following your wonderful blog, but commenting for the first time. Great suggestions from you as always. I guess we could be more consistent in modelling the right behaviour for him. We do most of the time, but there are those pms times and other hurry and stress inducing occasions like making sure he’s out the door on time when I might not be at my best! Always scope for more awareness, soul-searching, and self-improvement and our little zen masters never let up on us!

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it made me feel less worried just to see someone else with the same issue 🙂

    • Mangala and Eliza,
      Also, do go back to the posts on the six/seven transformation and the seven year old under the Development tab. Those might really help you and put your heart at ease. I also agree, Mangala, school can be a pressure spot, especially if it is the first time in the grades. Many things really, really shift in the grades and it has a totally different feel than a Waldorf kindergarten. Still beautiful, but school! It takes adjustment and sometimes with that and having to hold things together all day can come a backlash. So you can also keep track of outbursts and see when they occur as part of your taking inventory/stock as to what is going on. I agree that talking back is communication, but I also see far too many parents that seem really afraid to guide it in a healthy way. Growing older and moving into the grades also means we need to adjust our parenting style too.

    • Thank you Mangala. It sounds like we have two kindred spirits 🙂 I agree about school pressures, we are Americans living in the UK and I know there is additional pressure to fit into a different culture and accent. And class one (as they call it here) IS very different from kinde, it IS real school and the expectations are high. I wish you the best!

      And thank you Carrie, for your reply. It made me realize that the consequences have not been consistent, mostly because he’s not an easy child to give a consequence to. 🙂 I’ve found myself taking the path of least resistance and lately merely reminding him (in a firm and sometimes very frustrated tone) that he is not to speak to me that way. This morning I followed through and calmly but firmly had him take a break on the steps for several minutes for each word. It was a struggle while it lasted, but those were the last nasty words I heard today. And you’re right, my husband and I need to determine the best course of action and be unified in our decision. And since our boy is reading and writing, I also like the idea of a written list. I think that will work well for him. And I also like the idea of the father-son chat. There have been times I’ve thought that I am taking the brunt because my husband is less likely to speak up in my defense than I am in his. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply! I am feeling so much more positive!

  4. Excellent Post, Thank you! It was so funny when you mentioned the ‘extra-bumbling’ father role on the american sit-coms. This is so true….even true in kids cartoons like Peppa Pig where the father role seems to have lost all fatherly-authority. Thank you again for this excellent post.

  5. Terrific post Carrie! It gave me a lot of food for thought as talking back is something we are struggling with right now – both because of my children’s behavior and mine!

  6. Hi Carrie
    I have been frustrated by my 11 year old daughter’s behavior as of late and did a quick google search on Waldorf parenting a pre-teen and found your article. Thank you because it is very informative. My daughter has been in a Waldorf school since Kindergarten. She is now going into 5th grade. I am a public school teacher and have the summer off with her. She does not go to camp (her choice). There are 2 issues I am having. The first is that she constantly needs to be “on the go”. For example, today we just spent the day doing some errands and then met up with one of her friends for a rainy day movie. On the car ride home (it is now 4pm), she starts asking what are we going to do when we get home, who can I go and play with…etc. It seems as if almost everyday we are running into the same issue, just change the scenario a bit. \To me it feels like she can’t have a moment of downtime. When I tell her that she can’t do such and such because we already had a full day – the back talk and arguing starts, tears too (issue #2) I have tried talking to her about this but have gotten no where. I have explained about how we all need downtime, myself as well as her, but to no avail. Maybe you have a trick up your sleeve?? I am starting to feel resentful because it seems that no matter how much I allow/arrange for her to do, it is never “enough”. The back talk is really starting to get to me and I find that I am at a loss of how to respond, and I am losing my temper which I am not happy about. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. So glad I found your bolg.

    • Tami –
      That “on the go” I think is really common in girls of that age; many of these girls seem to have a hard time figuring out what to do unless they are reading. I think the answer to that is partially in moving the body, which doesn’t necessarily mean a car depending upon where you live – swimming, biking and walking long distances, some places have tennis courts within walking distance, or in rural areas working on a farm. Movement! And boundaries. Unfortunately, at this age, you are back to needing a strong rhythm so they know what days are “in” days and what days are “out” days. It alleviates a lot of arguments. Check the calendar. Is it an in or out day? Work on having stocked art supplies and woodworking and handwork supplies available. That also helps get creativity going.
      I don’t know as explanations are necessary if you have your in and out days picked. It just is. Sometimes the arguing just comes the more we explain and you have explained. She knows what and why, so you really just have to stick to it. I think this is a good thing to do now, because I hate to even say this, but post of the girls I know ages 13-14 are very much this way also and not a lot is “enough” (whatever “enough” would be!)…so I think this pops up in this general age range of 11 to 14. The other thing to consider is the time of year – I have readers from all over the world, but if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, it may be this transitional state of summer coming down a bit but school still not being here.
      The other thing I think is when you are home, teach her some new skills. Cooking comes to mind. Many 11 years olds really discover a love of baking and cooking at this age, or anything else you can think of to stimulate new thought and interest. I think it is very important that we teach our girls that they are not made up of “where they go/who they are with”, but who they are when they are alone and in solitude and that being in solitude is not the same as alone….Philosophical digression! Check out too, under fifth grade and development the fifth grade and 11 year old development posts (see the header for those categories)..those could be helpful as well.
      Nice to hear from you, glad you are here!

    • Hi Carrie
      Thank you so much for the thoughtful response. I am so happy I posted as normally that is not something I would do. I feel so relieved that I have some solid tools in my box now. We live in NY and yes, summer is coming to an end and school is 3 weeks away. I love the advice and the in and out days. I only wish it is something I had started from the beginning but there is next summer and weekends once school starts. Also your comment that explaining only brings about more arguments rings so true. I guess I have always felt that she deserves an explanation but I am seeing that that is not necessarily true. Especially when I have already explained. I have of late started using the “because I said so” in response to her whys but feel like I sound like my own mother. Do you have any other ideas for wording it? Thanks again.

    • Tami,
      I think silence is okay, if she asks again, I think I would just simply and calmly say, “We have already discussed this, and I gave my answer.” I would not get into a back and forth about it. Easier said than done!

    • Tami – PS. Sometimes just a simple “Not today” in response to “Can we do x, y and z today?” also can work well.

  7. Hi Carrie, I got up this morning at 4 to have some time alone before my children wake up. I didn’t sleep well, so getting up early was called for, if that makes sense. I found you blog by searching for “super defiant six year old.” My DD turned six in January, and wow. She has ALWAYS been a challenging child. . .she was challenging in the womb even, but her behavior has escalated recently and I find myself pulling away from her. I hate to admit it, but it is hard to love someone who is constantly talking back to me, ordering me around, and yelling at her little brother. Our children are Montessori kids. I stay home with them in the mornings, and they go to half day school. She is fine at school. She is loved and respected and shows love and respect back. Not that she isn’t at home, but just saying for the sake of she’s not a problem child at school. The moment she gets in the van at pick up, she’s ordering me around. Wants to know where we are going, and when the answer is “home,” she kicks her legs and throws a fit. .because she isn’t getting HER way. From there on she can’t (or won’t) snap out of it. She plays nicely with her brother as long as she’s getting her way. The moment he does something she doesn’t like, she yells at him. She pushes him. She aggravates him on purpose. She nothing but mean. She needs to get her way, or she’s not a happy person. My son might be disappointed that we aren’t going somewhere after school, and he might whine about it for a few minutes, then he snaps back and has a good rest of the night. Not her.

    I hired a parenting (after reading every book I could on parenting this way, that way, another way, a new way) that I heard speak at an early education conference. Her coaching was very in line with how I’ve tried to parent, although I think Gentle Discipline to my DD just means walking all over me and her dad. My daughter sees boundaries as things to be crossed. The coach and I had a plan to change the unwanted behaviors in the house. With my son, all of her suggestions worked. Her suggestions and your suggestions above line up, as she children in Waldorf. With my DD, it’s pointless. She’s still going to push every boundary, every time, all the time. Example: she’s in the shower at the pool after a lesson. I tell her she has five minutes to finish up. I go in at five minutes, and tell her “Time is up. Turn off the water.” She ignores me. I wait. I repeat, “Turn off the water.” She ignores me. I say, “I’ll know you are ready to get dressed when you come out in your towel.” I hang up the towel, and walk out of the shower area. She howls in anger. I wait in the changing area. She’s in her towel now, but won’t come over. She needs my help getting dressed as it is hot and sticky in the changing area, and I’m always there to help. BUT she won’t come over. I say, “Your clothes are on the bench. . .” before I can finish, she’s mad and angry and demanding I help her. Because I am not feeding the negative behavior, and frankly, I just want to get out of the pool area by now, I don’t say anything when she comes over to finally get help drying off and getting dressed. Maybe in hind sight, she should have to get dressed by herself, even if it makes it worse before it gets better? She grunts at me, tells me how ugly her clothes are, just needs to complain, complain, complain. Things were FINE when we got to swimming. We probably had a normal morning. It’s just the minute she doesn’t get her way, in this case I didn’t wait in the shower for her, it all goes south.

    The above example may not sound like much, but this is with everything through out the day. She gets up in the morning, we cuddle. Then she asks “What’s for breakfast?” I tell her. She complains. It’s not what she wants. She eats and then starts playing with her brother. He doesn’t do what she wants exactly as she wants it, she begins yelling at him. If she were playing with a friend and that person doesn’t do what she wants, it’s more manageable for her because she will talk them into doing it her way. She doesn’t yell or throw a fit with friends, or say “I’m never going to play with you again!” to anyone, just her brother. Is this normal sibling rivalry? When she yells at him I say, “Take a break” which isn’t the same as a time out. It just means to walk away and do something to calm down then you can join your brother again. She tells me No. I tell brother to walk away from her. So then HE has to stop what he’s doing because she WON’T do what’s being requested of her. She has all the power, and although she may not want it or need it, she has it and used it against us all. What am I supposed to do when she says no except to remove him from the situation? And even then she will sometimes follow us. This is not a time to sit down and connect with her. Why reinforce her behavior? It’s just horrible and embarrassing the way she talks to her brother. It wasn’t always like this, but once he had his own opinions, watch out.

    So. . .safe, loving home where she was exclusively nursed for 1 year, then extended nursing until she was 3.5. Attachment Parenting overdrive. I’m at SAHM. I’ve very scheduled with bedtime, meals, wake up. Very clean diet. One family movie night a week for media. Plenty of outdoor time, play time. And yet she’s just a very hard child to be around. It breaks my heart. I’m typing and crying at the same time because she’s never been “easy”, so how is her behavior a six/seven year transformation and not just her getting worse? She’s mean and nasty to her family, just us. Not to her grandparents. Not to her cousins. To us.

    I’m failing here. I’m literally failing at being able to deal with her and she’s only six.

    • Hi Michelle!
      I am so glad you are here! You are not failing, because life goes well for your daughter on so many fronts…where it is falling apart is that is just is hard for her at home and you want it not to be. You are attached to her and want to want to be around her! You want to connect with her and love her and feel close to her! So, it is hard from email and brief synopsis kind of things to say if something like family counseling would be helpful for you both and if that is really needed, or if it something more along these lines (which you can all find mentioned in back posts):
      1. Ho-hum. Matter of fact. If you ask her to turn off the shower (and I wouldn’t ask), I would sing a little turn off song (make it up, any tune, be funny, give her a minute and reach in at the end of the song and turn it off. No discussion, no waiting. You are being respectful of her need to finish up by giving her the moment in song, and you are giving her the chance to be respectful to you and water for the planet by helping her turn it off. If she has such a hard time following through on anything you ask, I would absolutely NOT ask. I would have a strong rhythm, a verse or song, and help her physically do it until she is able to follow through. And yes, in the shower example, I would say, I will wait for you right outside the door. And I would. Less words, more doing, more verses or songs to transition, and helping her follow through.
      For meals, I would post a meal schedule on the refrigerator. I would set the food down, and if she didn’t like it, ho hum. Time to take a shower for you? LOL. But seriously, she doesn’t have to eat it, right? If she wants to get herself a banana or an apple instead, then that is her choice if that is okay in your home to have things she can get herself. Ho hum. I would try to detach more emotionally from the outcome you want. Does it matter if she eats what you cook or if she gets yogurt out of the refrigerator by herself? It might in your family, and that is for you to discern, but I think I would pick my battles so to speak.
      With her brother, she would be in time in by me. And if she is ugly with him then no friends for playing and she could help do a chore FOR him. Being ugly with our family members who will be around our whole lives while friends may come and go is just not acceptable. Restitution is important – make it right! If they really have such a hard time playing, then you will have to be right there and they will not be able to play unsupervised. What is the plan for when there is conflict in play? Does she have a plan? Just turned six is a little early to try to talk about this for many children because they just want what they want or to talk the other child into what they want…but maybe she needs some strategies. Usually what I say is something along the lines of “let’s find something we all would like to do”.

      2. But the number two rule, besides ho hum, is ugly doesn’t go out of the house. Part of doing things outside the home is being nice at home. There were definitely points where I canceled things and stayed home because being ugly to me means we are not ready to go out of the house. And being ugly to me, as the mother, is not acceptable in our family.

      3. Which brings me to number three. She is holding it together at school and out, but at what cost at home? Not that you would want to withdraw her from school and such, but I think we always have to be careful of scheduling stuff on top of school when a child is really small. School takes a lot of energy, so having a rhythm at home should be the vast majority of the time outside of school. The rhythm should be predictable, the expectations predictable. A six year old is old enough to hear you say that you keep the rules of the land, this family, and that you expect her to treat others in the family with love because families love each other.
      4 – Sleep, rest, warming foods – sounds like you have this covered, but you know how this affects behavior. Diet, food sensitivities and allergies also can be looked at but if you really feel this has been there since the beginning, then it is your job to help her balance herself and bring love into how she relates to you all.
      Don’t know if any of that helps, take what resonates with you.
      Try these back posts – Keep Calm and Carry On
      Re Claiming Authority
      This one talks about ho hum and empowering children:

      Hope those help, glad you are here!

  8. Hi Carrie
    I read the above post by the woman with the 6 year old daughter and so much of what she said rings true to me, except that my daughter is 11 1/2. I hate that sometimes i just don’t like her. She can be so combative and I am having a hard time dealing with it. I have read some of your posts about setting boundaries which I know I need to work on, I’m just not sure of what the right boundaries are. My daughter loves to talk back, and she can be very rude and disrespectful to me. She does not like to be corrected in any way so will argue exhaustively to try to prove her point. I try to remain calm, tell her we can talk later, but she is relentless and pushes me until I blow up, which is not the way I want to respond AT ALL. Then I wind up feeling guilty and apologizing for blowing up. I will give you a quick scenario: she is infamous for leaving her things ALL over the place, whether its her socks on the floor in the kitchen, half finished crafts in one corner of the house, more in another corner, bandaid wrappers on bathroom vanity, and list goes on and on. As I write it all seems so silly but I feel as if I am constantly picking up after her. By the way, many things i just put away and probably only tell her about 1/2 of them. So today, she left something out, and I mentioned it to her (with a frustrated tone) that she needed to put it away, and then it all started. “Why do you always get so mad about every little thing?, What’s the big deal? I’m just a kid, kids forget things. I have a lot going on in my head (that’s the first time I heard that one) Why are you so mean? etc” I tried explaining that it wasn’t about the one little thing, but the combination of all the little things. Then the tears start, she goes to walk away from me, I have her come back,… and on and on. I can see the power struggle and she is winning it… Prior to this we were going to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie on this cold day, but I told her no movie (which I never do). I am just so fed up and frustrated and feel like such a failure. I feel like I need a psychology degree. Then other times she can be so sweet, I still lay down with her and read at night before bed and she’s all snuggles, and don’t leave yet mommy. I’m having a hard time with the roller coaster, I want off! I don’t even know what kind of boundaries to set at this age.
    By the way, she went to a Waldorf school up to last year, this year she is in 5th grade public. Her diet is good, minimal media, good bedtime, lots of exercise, and she and I spend a lot of time baking, crafting, etc… (just to give you an idea of family life)
    I know I wrote a lot and am all over the place.. sorry

    • Hi Tami,
      I think maybe go back and read some of the posts under the “development” header and then click the eleven year old tab..I think the behavior you are describing so far as leaving things all over and such is very typical of an 11 year old. Her behavior in responding to what she perceives may be criticism may also be normal for that age. I think it is all in establishing routines, paring down things, putting things away, and yes, making her put them away. Frontal lobe development, which really is the big workhouse for executive functioning skills such as organizing and such, come in about the 15-17 year old change with the frontal lobes continuing to develop until age 28 or biologically she is not quite there with organizing and such. You will have to be on top of her with routines, places to put things every. single. time. and really be over her with short one to three step commands. Shoes belong in the shoe rack, not on the floor. Crafts are cleaned up before we go to bed. Socks belong in the hamper. It is also okay to ask her, Now what do you need to do when you leave the room (ie, get my shoes, turn out the light,etc). If this is a hard area for her, then it will take time after time after time with you being right there. Lists can help as well or pictures in order of what needs to happen. Just remember you are setting good habits up, but she will need help
      So far as the talking back and such, I think the main thing is to yes, drop your end of the rope, don’t argue, just say “We are kind in our home” My one big rule is that ugly does not go out of the house. So if my children are ugly to me, there is no going places or playing with friends or whathaveyou and there may be going to bed early because you must be tired. However, at 11, depending upon how far along in puberty she is, there could also be some hormones at play. This does not excuse being rude or disrespectful, of course, but gives you an idea of what she is dealing with. Making sure there are good bedtimes, rest, etc, and a good amount of physical activity after a day of a lot of sitting can be very helpful.
      I hope that helps, and glad you are here reading!

  9. P.S. I feel alone in this behave the same way with my husband. If she even tries, one word from him and she doesn’t even say a peep. Thanks Carrie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.