If your kid is talking back, the heat of the moment can make you snap, resulting in a whole lot of things you wish you hadn’t said and a few threats you really don’t want to follow through on. It’s a natural reaction to blatant defiance. However, if you can manage to keep your cool for a few extra minutes, we’ve created a list of creative punishments for talking back that can get the point across without making your entire house miserable.
What makes a Creative punishment effective?
Creative punishments need to be less about demanding your child fall in line and more about helping them understand the whys and why not’s of their behaviors.
Trying to control them, talking down to them, or physically hurting them; none of that is okay, none of that works for a long-term solution, and none of that leaves you feeling like a good person.
You want punishments to be constructive and create better behaviors in the future.
If you teach them that their words and opinions aren’t valuable, they’ll take that to heart. Similarly, if you teach them that the only way they will be heard is to raise their voice and talk back, that’s how they’ll communicate moving forward.
I tell my kids all the time that they’re training me, and I’m training them. The most effective actions win the day. Let my kind request result in things getting done, and that’s the way I’ll ask moving forward.
5 Creative Punishments for Talking Back
If I ask kindly five times and nothing happens, and then I demand, and that works…well, why wouldn’t I just demand from the beginning? Thankfully, they only need this reminder about once a year because it makes logical sense, and I’m open and honest with them about it.
When it comes to talking back, this is a trained behavior. It’s a way to exemplify displeasure when they feel like they have no control.
In other words, they explosively voice their feelings because they go unheard. That said, talking back isn’t okay and is incredibly disrespectful.
If you cultivate open communication with your child, the talking back will decrease dramatically. That leads us right to our very first creative punishment for talking back:
#1: The Debate
Since talking back means they have something to say, give them a space to say it. Whatever triggered the issue, have them research it.
If you’re asking them to clean their room, have them look up the psychology of a tidy environment. If it started over homework, have them research the value of an education. A few hours later, sit down and debate with them.
Let them know they can only use facts they’ve looked up and that this debate isn’t about personal opinions. The point is twofold: one, they learn how to communicate their case effectively, and two, they begin to see the reason behind your request.
#2: Owning The Mumble
Is there anything more infuriating than backtalk that isn’t clear and concise? That mumble they mutter as they walk away is like waving a red flag in your face.
Stop them and make them repeat it at a normal volume. Once you’ve heard what they said, take a few deep breaths and invite them to come sit down at the table.
Let the silence stretch out a little bit; it’s okay. Just gather your thoughts and always keep your tone at an even volume. Now ask them to repeat it. Here’s the thing. The reason they mumble is that they know that what they’re saying isn’t acceptable.
This doesn’t mean it isn’t permitted in the realm of human interaction, just that it isn’t acceptable to say something to YOU at that moment. If what they’ve said isn’t too bad and makes sense in retrospect, respect that. Discuss ways of moving forward and keeping the mumble out of it next time.
However, if it was pretty awful, have them repeat it over and over again, out loud, at a normal volume. Ask them to think about the words they chose and the way they decided to say them. Ask them if it was conducive and resulted in what they were aiming for.
Again, this is all about teaching them acceptable ways of conversing. They’ll eventually realize how ridiculous they sound. You might have to repeat this one a few times, but they’ll get tired of the whole shebang and stop, I promise.
#3: You’re My Buddy
Ah, parenting glue. Only bring this one out if you’re ready to commit to a full day with them right by your side.
This works for a slew of other behavior issues, too. Don’t plan anything special for your day; just go about your regular business. However, they have to stay with you for all of it.
If this is a chore day, have them pitch in. If it’s a workout day, take them along. If it’s an errand day, well, you get the point. While you’re doing things, talk with them. Keep up a steady thrum of conversation, and feel free to add a few lectures about human interaction for maximum effect.
Make it clear they’re welcome to talk to you and add to the conversation, but not to talk BACK. The entire day should be filled with pleasant tones and effective communication. If it devolves into something less, sit down and have a few moments of silence together to reset the day.
#4: Choose Your Own Punishment
This is one of my favorites because they often don’t really think it through and therefore learn more than if you’d chosen for them. They know they did something wrong and were disrespectful, and they know there will be consequences.
However, placing the punishment in their hands gives them a sense of control while ensuring they don’t get upset with you over the repercussions. Still, you have to play it right. Nothing should be done in the heat of the moment.
Tell them they have one hour before you sit down and discuss their punishment. Give them free rein, but be sure to let them know that you have veto rights. Their chosen punishment will often be a lot harsher and stiffer than anything you would have come up with, which allows you to tone it down to an acceptable level.
Everyone wins. I once got offered two months of doing the dishes daily! We negotiated it down to three weeks, but I was shocked at how effective it was, and since they’d chosen it, there was never an objection raised.
#5: The Tried and True Easy Route
If all else fails, and you’re tired of putting the effort in, it’s always easy to take away a coveted item. Removing their phone, their after-school freedom, or even an upcoming event can keep them in line.
It’s easy, it works, and the behaviors stop for fear of losing even more. However, this doesn’t teach them anything in the long run, other than the behavior won’t be tolerated.
I try to use this one only if trust is broken because trust has to be rebuilt, and this allows time for that to happen. By removing the smartphone or iPad for a week, my kids are much more likely to be present in the moment, giving us time together to rebuild what’s been fractured.
I don’t suggest this one for backtalk unless you’ve tried the other ones or you need compliance without question for your own sanity.
If you’ve spent months or years trying to get the backtalk under control, it might be time to seek professional help. It can be hard to admit, but sometimes the defiance and backtalk are due to deeper-seated issues.
Setting them up with a counselor can make a huge difference, and the counselor can let you know if you need to look into therapy or psychiatric evaluation. It takes a village to raise a child, so don’t struggle on your own with this past the point of fracturing your bond with your child.
As always, thanks for being such a great parent. Just by taking the time to read this article, we know that you’re putting your best effort forth to create and cultivate a wonderful human being. Parenting is hard, but we’re always here to help. Good luck!