So raise your hand if you’ve got a school-aged child with a sassy mouth, irritating defiance, or even downright out-of-control behavior. Yoohoo! Hello! Let’s collectively shove our hands in the air and wave them around like monkeys. Yes, me! A little help would be lovely!
For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I write a blog as I’m going through the trauma. Authors that crank out peachy advice when they are nowhere near the emotional drain drives me wild. Seriously, I’m sure they are perfectly nice and knowledgeable people, but you simply cannot capture the emotions involved when the life event is a distant memory. And in this case, we’re talking about those smart mouths attached to OUR children. You know, the sweet little angel that popped out not so long ago and made us goo-goo with love? Yeah, that kid. What the heck happened?
As a speech therapist, I’ve run the gamut, working with all age groups. I’m currently working in a large metro school district and raising first, fourth, and fifth graders. I’m constantly surrounded by Pre-K through twelfth graders, so I get a daily onslaught of back talk. Some of these kiddos are in Special Education with autism or behavior disorders ? and that’s one thing. But I also see Regular Ed kids for language or articulation disorders, and I spend a good deal of time at my kids school, volunteering or substitute teaching. And the smart mouths I constantly run into. . . yowza.
So I got to thinking. What on earth is going on at home that these kids are so mouthy, refuse to listen, and run amok? How can we change that? From my interactions with parents, it seems to me that one of two things are going on: (a) parents overlook it due to spoiling or exhaustion, or (b) they fight it like hell and get nowhere.
This blog is the answer. We need to figure out what drives kids to back talk, act defiant, or get out of control and learn how to change our approach and eliminate the behavior.
The first thing we’ll do is review the ABC Guide basics. For those of you who’ve read my toddler blogs, this section will be a repeat, with a twist toward older children. It’s still a necessary review.
Discipline for school-aged children is different than toddler discipline. With toddler discipline, each part of the ABC has equal weight. With school-aged children, the ABC method is still important, but most of the focus is on “C” the Consequence. Big kids have better negotiation (Who are we kidding? It’s arguing) skills, and it takes more verbal wrangling and mental exertion from the adults. It’s all about our reactions.
In this blog, you’ll find less focus and examples of the ABC method itself and more focus on how to play the mental game. So hang tight on the review and expect some differences throughout the blog. Avoid setting any expectations that it should work exactly the same as toddler discipline or flow the same as my toddler blog. There are many special challenges as kids reach school age, forcing us to change gears a bit. Get ready for some new instruction!
Be prepared to change your thinking and approach to discipline and back talk. Be prepared to take a good, long, hard look at yourself, too. Our reaction to a child’s behavior shapes the outcome and future recurrence. Behavior can get worse, or it can get better – depending on how you handle it.
This blog will help you to:
- Be kind, firm, and consistent.
- Stop yelling, hitting, and ignoring.
- Avoid engaging the nonsense.
- Forget about lectures – they do not work.
- Be a safe haven, providing tons of love and guidance.
- Give instruction on exactly how you want your child to act.
Kids will not magically start acting better simply because we yell – stop! It’s completely useless, especially at this age. We must make our children feel loved and provide consistent, positive instruction on how we DO want them to act. I know you’re worn out, but nothing will change until YOU change. You are the factor that will make this work. It’s not too late. You can change the course you are on, turn your child’s behavior around, and get started in the right direction.