4.5 year old who talks back

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How should I handle a 4.5 year old who talks back to me?


I decided to answer your question by sending you another excerpt from Positive Discipline A-Z on disrespect.


My child is often disrespectful to me. She talks back in a sassy manner, yells at me, and sometimes calls me names. The more I punish her, the worse it gets.


Children learn from the examples around them. Too many parents expect their children to be respectful when they are not respectful to their children. Punishment is not respectful.

  1. In a calm, respectful voice tell your child, "If I have ever spoken to you that way, I apologize. I don't want to hurt you or be hurt by you. Can we start over?"
  2. Say, "You are obviously very upset right now. I know it upsets me when you talk that way. Let's both take some time out to calm down. We can talk later when we feel better."
  3. If this is a recurring problem, put it on the family meeting agenda for discussion. Sometimes a discussion is enough to create awareness and invite cooperation to stop the problem. Another possibility is to say what you will do. "When you talk disrespectfully to me, I will take care of myself and leave the room. I love you and want to listen to you when you are ready to talk respectfully. I love myself enough to walk away from verbal abuse."
  4. Calmly leave the room without saying a word. If your child follows, go for a walk or get into the shower. After a cooling-off period, ask, "Are you ready to talk with me now?"
  5. If you are not too upset, try hugging your child. Sometimes children are not ready to accept a hug at this time. Other times a hug totally changes the atmosphere for both of you to one of love and respect.
  1. Be willing to take a look at how you might be teaching the very thing you abhor in your child by being disrespectful to your child. Many parents have been shocked when they heard their children talking to their dolls because they realized their children were good mimics.
  2. Teach your children the Three R's of Recovery, and use them yourself when you make a mistake and act disrespectfully to your children.

It is not okay for me to be disrespectful to others, or to tolerate others being disrespectful to me.

  1. This is a good time to act instead of react. It is very tempting to get revenge (use punishment) when our children hurt our feelings.
  2. If you do react, use the Three R's of Recovery to apologize after you have calmed down. Your child will probably mimic this behavior also.

From a note sent by a grateful parent:

I'm all choked up right now because my 15-year-old daughter just came in and said, "Mom, are you planning to do some washing today so that I can include my jeans, or should I put a load in before school?"

It was such a respectful departure from "Mom, have my jeans washed when I get home from school!" Thank God for family meetings and calm dialogue instead of yelling, reacting and the angry feelings we have known.

Online Learning

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