Talking Back

by Elizabeth

I have a ten year old that recently has been talking back and has attitude. What can I do?

Back Talking Reply from Kristina:

I have noticed that boys seem to go through a pre-puberty phase around the age of 9-10. I do not know if your child is male or female, but if he is a boy, he may be experiencing this common phase. Bad attitude, fits of crying or high emotionality, anger, regressive behavior, talking back, and even bed-wetting episodes seem to often crop up in boys at this age, last anywhere from 3-12 months, and then go away again.

Usually during this time, it is possible to pull the child out of their inner-focused mindset by adopting a slightly more strict schedule than usual. Keeping him or her busy and fully scheduled seems to help, so that instead of providing lots of downtime, you help keep your child outwardly focused, and physically/mentally active with stimulating activities, as well as physically demanding activities. This should help improve the attitude and reduce the back-talk. It might be MORE of a challenge at first to get your child to participate in whatever activities you provide for him/her, but as long as you are simply firm and consistent, they will do it, and you should see the results pretty quickly. The activities don't have to be structured, like signing your child up for daily classes at a gymnastics studio or something like that, but could simply be signing him or her up for free after-school tutoring, instituting a more structured and extensive homework/chore schedule at home, setting up weekly scheduled outings with the grandparents, assigning him a fun but involved art or science project to finish by the end of each week, biking with mom every evening after dinner, learning Spanish from the neighbor every afternoon after school... you can be creative with the activities depending on your child and your ability to pay for/transport your child to and from activities, but just make sure they are scheduled consistently, and required.

Try this one technique, and just make sure to give your child space to make mistakes and grow up out of this, while always making your expectations and consequences crystal clear and religiously consistent. Good luck!

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