Before you say “Get outta here!” or No Way!” read this whole post first, from beginning till the very end.
Sure, when children are talking back at you, your temper takes over and it’s very hard to stay calm. You can’t seem to fathom that this little being even has the nerve to challenge you. So to start off, I know how ridiculous it sounds.
However, when you’ve read the reasoning behind the idea, you’ll eventually appreciate that talking back might just be good for your kids.
Child Psychologist Kelly M. Flanagan, wrote in his blog that he’s secretly happy that his kids say no to him every now and then. He explains that there a certain things in life that we need to decline to, and having a lot of practice on doing so — even if it means saying no to eating his veggies or strapping his seatbelt on — is necessary.
“Because the truth is, you can’t truly say ‘Yes’ until you can say ‘No.’ We need to know we have a choice in life. The freedom to say ‘No’ [or “No thank you” as I prefer] is the very beginning of our ability to say ‘Yes.’ To ourselves. To life. And to love,” he writes. He adds that kids should learn how to talk back in a “safe, supportive environment” — the home.
Of course, letting your child talk back does not mean saying yes to him all the time. A growing child needs to have boundaries.
He needs to learn how to compromise and accept that he’s not getting his way. It’s all about balance, and it’s a process both you and your child should work on as they grow up.
Research also backs his point. A 2011 study published in the journal Child Development shows that the inevitable arguments between parent and kids, especially tweens and teens, does benefit a child in the long run.
But it’s not the shouting-or-throwing-stuff kind of argument; more of a discussion, really.
Lead study author Joseph P. Allen says in an interview with NPR, “We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world.”
The kids who learned proper negotiation skills in a calm, collected, and confident manner applied the same technique when dealing with their friends. They are not easily swayed or pushed over.
Allen suggests that parents think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a training for critical thinking — something the child can use later in life when he or she is presented with things that he should really say no to, such as drugs or alcohol, and risky behavior.
For kids to grow healthy, independent adults, they need to learn the skill of disagreeing, or talking back early. They need to learn how to voice out their feeling, thoughts, or ideas, and learn how to make their own decisions.
I try not to underestimate our preschoolers. We talk to them and try to help them express how they feel about stuff, like the rules we impose. That way, they feel included in the decision making.
But what can you do when talking back turns ugly?
It’s an instinct, I would say. You know when your children’s reasoning crosses the line between standing up for themselves or being disrespectful. I’m sometimes guilty of it, too. I sometimes have to be aware of how I respond to them. First, calm down and then explain that they can tell me their thoughts without being rude or disrespectful.
So the next time your child challenges your authority, take a step back, and remember that it’s a skill he needs. Then, go ahead and help him. And remember, little ones learn by example, too!
October 21, 2015. “Kids Who ‘Talk Back’ Become More Successful Adults” (yahoo.com)
November 6, 2013. “The Reason Every Kid Should Talk Back to Their Parents” (huffingtonpost.com)
January 3, 2012. “Why A Teen Who Talks Back May Have A Bright Future” (npr.org)