Do you ever find yourself in the middle or an argument with your 6 year old? You say something and the “Buts” begin. You want to let your children learn to communicate or have a voice in the family, but it has gotten way past that and is now turning into a continual attitude of disrespect and back talking. Here are 5 Ways to help stop the back talking.
1. Do not engage in arguments
For some reason, this is extremely hard for us. Our children ask WHY and we either turn into butter and let them rule the conversation or we turn into dictators with a “Because I Said So” attitude. Neither of these are helpful or productive and actually lead to greater problems.
The reality is, these little people we are arguing with are children. With children’s minds, children’s viewpoints, children’s self-focus, children’s sinfulness. Why in the world do we think arguing with them is going to help them learn to understand our decisions? It doesn’t. Arguing puts US on the defensive, as if we have to justify ourselves. It often throws us back to bad relationships in our past that keep us locked into our own fears and insecurities. Do NOT engage in these arguments. Stop yourself before you begin to explain or justify. And remember who is the parent and who is the child.
Should he argue with useless talk,
Or with words which are not profitable? Job 15:5
2. Believe you have greater wisdom
Sometimes we find ourselves second guessing ourselves on every issue. We forget that we are adults with hindsight, spiritual insight and knowledge. We are sometimes with our children so much that we forget they are children with undeveloped frontal lobes and foolishness prompting their every move, thought and word.
God has been training YOU, transforming YOU. You have the wisdom of life experiences and lots of mistakes to help you see the better way in most situations before you. And you have a heart to really listen to the Spirit (hopefully) guide you in what you choose. Stand in that understanding and choose wisely for your child now.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. Prov 22:15
3. Model respectful speech to your children
This one can be an OUCH moment! This requires a close and hard examination of how we speak to our children.
- Are we sarcastic?
- Are we curt and bitter in our words and attitudes to them?
- Do we mock them and slander them to other people?
- Are we letting our words bring life and hope to their hearts or are we tearing them down?
They way we speak to our children TEACHES them what is an appropriate way to speak to others: to their siblings, their friends, their teachers and to us. Several months ago I wrote a post on More To Be about parenting with respect. You might find that one helpful as well.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29
4. Training them in righteousness
This is not just a trite answer or ethereal phrase. This is the heartbeat of our jobs as parents, and as those looking to disciple others to follow Jesus. None of us are born knowing what righteous behavior or attitudes are. We are born with a propensity toward sin. When we come to Christ, He gives us a new heart with a bent toward surrender and obedience to the character and nature of God. But we all have many years of unrighteous habits built up in our lives that need purging and retraining.
For our children, they may not even have come to the place of conversion. They may still be dealing only with the desires of their fleshly indulgences with no spiritual connection to the Spirit who guides us into truth. But whether they are saved or not, we need to train them in what righteousness is. What it looks like, how it responds, how to live it. When we think that training only entails discipline, we have lost sight of the power of instruction. And the life that the Word of God gives to the hearts and minds and spirits of our children.
Training means teaching them what TO say, while we also instruct them in what NOT to say. So many times we see in the Word “put offs” – that is the instruction (and sometimes discipline) in what not to do. But there are also the “put ons”. Those are the things that the writers of the scriptures teach and instruct us TO do. We need to make sure that we fill our children up with the words of the scriptures that bring life AND the tools of how to say and do things right, and not just discipline out the negative speech patterns and behavior. Simply discipling the negative without training in the righteous leave them without hope that they can ever truly change.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.
And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26
5. Practice makes perfect
Well, maybe not perfect, but practicing the RIGHT things to say helps to build new patterns in our children. During non-confrontational times, have Practice Times. Have your list of new things they can say that are NOT disrespectful or back talking, and build scenarios and walk through them. Set them up pretending they are playing and then you come in and say something that would normally elicit some arguing from your child. They get the opportunity to say the correct phrase you have taught them, with the correct tone of voice.
When they do it right APPLAUD and HOOP and HOLLER that they got it right! Make their right response a big deal. And then practice again and again.
Eventually they will see the fruit of doing things the better way, the way that you are teaching them. You may want to even give some grace when first working through this with them. If in regular life (i.e. not a Practice Time) they start to go off, put your hand up and say (in a calm voice), “Betty Lou, remember what Momma taught you to say? Let’s try it again the right way.” Let them retrain their speech patterns as you instruct and guide them.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little;
I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matt 25:21
Is that all there is?
Will these steps get rid of all the speech issues with your children? I wish that were true. It is a continual and constant thing for us to disciple our children. But these will give you a start on how to build gracious and righteous speech into your children’s lives.
(image courtesy of imagerymajestic/freedigitalphotos.net)