The last two posts have focused on a TELL Gathering conversation where our group contemplated how to respond when a child talks back, or speaks inappropriately.
One of our subscribers shared her story after reading and thinking about these posts. She gave us permission to share this with you today:
When I was growing up, I learned that talking back to my parents resulted in discipline. Instead, I have been trying to teach my daughter (now 4) how to not talk back and ask questions when she didn’t want to do something I’d asked her to do.
So imagine my surprise when I asked her to do something and she flat out said, “No!” I think my first reactive thought was, “Excuse me?”
I paused for a minute and considered why she may be reacting this way. Had she heard another child at school respond that way to a teacher? Or maybe she saw it on TV and was just mimicking that behavior? This was not the way she typically responded to me.
I stopped right then what we were doing and told my daughter that it was not OK to speak to me that way. I mentioned that she might see other people speak that way, but that just saying “No” to me was not nice or polite. I reminded her that in our house we try and always be nice and polite. I also told her the next time there was something I asked her to do that she didn’t want to, that it was OK for her to ask me why she needed to do that task.
This made me wonder if talking appropriately to one another isn’t something we continue to work on throughout childhood? Throughout life? I quickly realized that just one conversation with my toddler isn’t enough. She needs to be reminded often, as often as possible, because she’s seeing other behaviors daily that might not be acceptable or appropriate. I have to teach her the difference and encourage her to make better choices about how to speak and act. I have to really listen to how she is speaking as well so I can help respond better. I also must listen when she is asking me questions and not give the silent “No” message if I ignore her. And, I must remember my love for her all the while.
First, I wish to thank this subscriber for sharing her story and her reflections. I hope she has given you a new idea for the next time your child talks back or responds inappropriately. The pause before we react is definitely a gem to keep in mind!
Also, I’m pretty sure many of us can relate to the “Excuse me” reaction, or the idea when we were growing up the message often was to just do as you are told.
These responses are less effective with children today because youth are exposed to so much information on a daily basis. Most children have more people in their lives to influence how they think and speak. They get information while at day care or school, from the media, or all public places, for that matter. They also get this information at home. All around youth today are non-examples and good examples how to interact with each other. How will the children learn there is a difference unless someone tells them?
Last, I wish to thank all subscribers who are reading and reflecting on the Show & T.E.L.L. posts. My prayer is the posts serve you all well.