Children naturally try to push the limits of acceptable behavior. Older kids testing their limits are difficult to deal with in a positive manner, and some older children push to the limit and beyond, often causing the parent to suffer feelings of inadequacy and resentment. Older children who are being sassy can be extremely disrespectful. Below, you’ll find some very effective methods for dealing with a sassy child, gathered from parents who’ve been where you are right now.
Be a Good Role Model
Children soak up everything around them. If anyone around them is exhibiting bad behavior, they’re going to mimic it. This is why it’s important that you’re modeling the behavior you want from your children. Your courtesy and respect for others will help your child know how they’re expected to act. When your child acts outside of those standards, make sure you’re empathetic, but be firm about that sort of behavior being unacceptable. Avoid letting your child know that they’re getting under your skin; it will only cause them to act out more to snare your attention.
Take a Break
When a child is talking back as an outlet for frustration, the parent is typically the target and tempers can flare very quickly. Advise your child calmly that you’ve reached your limit with their behavior and you need a break from them so that neither of you say things you’ll regret later. After you’re feeling calmer, communicate with your child; try to resolve the problem causing the initial frustration. Make sure they know that you expect their respect and there are consequences for rude behavior.
Use Carrots and Sticks
Children must understand that their parents are human beings with thoughts and feelings of their own. Parents must reinforce that they deserve their child’s respect. When a child becomes disrespectful, a punishment (i.e., stick) should be levied; this may consist of loss of privileges or favored possessions. When the child acts as you expect them to, give them a reward (carrot), such as an extra outing with friends or additional computer time.
Consistency is Key
The key to handling your child’s sass is consistency. If you allow them to talk back sometimes, they’re going to take advantage of that and the behavior will become even worse. Children thrive on structure and order, so always reinforce your disapproval of a smart mouth.