Free Tip Friday: Talking Back Can Be Helpful (Oh yes it can!)

Free Tip Friday: Talking Back Can Be Helpful (Oh yes it can!)

posted in: Family, Safe Space | 0

If an adult “talks back” to another adult, it’s called a “vibrant discussion” or “having a conversation.”

If a kid “talks back” to an adult, it’s called “being disrespectful.”

Okay, okay.  A lot of other factors go into that statement. Things that are learned over time like tone, empathy, and people skills.

This also doesn’t factor in adults who still feel the need to “talk back”- and not in a productive way. They can be combative, and not interested in anyone else’s opinion. Maybe they talked back to their parents when they were young, or maybe they just never learned to gracefully disagree and successfully negotiate.

CAUTION: we’re now entering unchartered territory, but think about it…

  • If a kid talks back to you because of spite/anger/hunger/”hanger” – you can probably tell instantly by their tone and facial expressions. They just want to disagree, and you’ve had it up to HERE. This is not the time to indulge a conversation. This is about survival.
  • If a kid talks back to you because they want a say in the decision, and it’s not a life or death situation…

Well, that’s a different story altogether.

In a study conducted by the University of Virginia, psychologists explored the possibility that pushback from kids and teens could be good for their development, and their ability to say NO when they need to.

Hang on, hang on. Fan the steam away from your ears. This, like any study, is just that – one study. A new discussion. A different perspective, if you will. We are in no way encouraging The Great Family Coup of 2015, in which the youngest and least-educated family members dictate the rules and bedtimes. Disclaimer, over.

The study suggested reframing these moments of differing opinions as teaching opportunities, helping them safely practice developing a sense of control over their own lives.

“Sense” is the operative word in this situation. It’s a tricky thing, control, because a false sense of it can be dangerous – and too much of it can be equally detrimental.

If you are holding onto control as a parent because you, well, CAN…why is that?

We obviously all want to feel like we’re doing a good job as parents, that’s a given.

But here’s a fact:

You aren’t raising a kid to stay a kid.
You’re raising a kid to become an adult.

So, indulge this question for a moment:

Wouldn’t you rather your kid learn how to negotiate from you first, where you know what’s at stake?

It’s within families that we first learn how to say “NO” in a safe and supportive environment. If pushback is rebuffed every single time, (safety reasons excluded, obviously) what message is received?

To accept instructions blindly, without sharing ideas or attempting to refine processes? To go along with what everyone else is doing because it’s easier than saying no? To settle and not ask questions that lead to better outcomes?

Check out the full post, and a related NPR story, for helpful tips, and ideas of what kind of behavior to pay attention to in situations like these. And interestingly, these articles say

the best thing parents can do to help their kids learn to “talk back” more effectively…is listen.

So go ahead! Have a conversation! Have a disagreement! It’s good for you both! (Wink)

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