How To Stop Backtalk Now (and prevent it in the future)

Find out how to stop backtalk from your kids and how to best prevent it from coming back in the future. It is a fast and simple fix! Read for tips.

Sassy child folding her arms defiantly

You would think that maybe, on my fourth child, I wouldn’t find myself in this spot. I would be able to sidestep it and cruise along, riding on my years of experience to avoid one of the most frustrating moments of parenting.

The sass. 

The backtalk. 

The battles.

The moments when your child decides what you say is more like a guideline than an instruction. Your child tells you why you are wrong or why she is going to do what she wants anyway, or how she is “just” going to do this one thing before listening to you. You could avoid the moment she will throw a major fit when you pick out her outfit for the day.

But no. My little four year old was giving me all the backtalk. 

What my years of parenting experience did do for me was immediately tell me why my little cutie suddenly believed she knew best and got to set the rules. 

She had too many freedoms. She had grown wise in her own eyes and was sure she had as much wisdom and authority as I did. She needed fewer freedoms.

Read: How Too Many Freedoms Lead to Disobedience

How To Stop Backtalk

According to Oxford, backtalk is “rude or cheeky remarks made in reply to someone in authority.” When your child tells you no or sasses you, that is backtalk. When your child tells you why she isn’t going to obey your instruction quite yet, that is back talk. When your child challenges your authority, that is back talk. Kids can even get passive-aggressive with their “backtalk” by simply ignoring you.

Backtalk is very frustrating for parents. Talking back is disrespectful to the parents and is a symptom of a deeper problem. When backtalk starts coming from your child, you will soon be wanting to stop this disrespectful behavior. 

Read: How To Successfully Combat Teen Attitude

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How To Fix Back Talk

Identifying the issue is easy when you know what to look for. Now for the solution. Fortunately, the solution is also easy if you have the will to stick things through. Let me walk you through how I solved the back talk with my four year old in this story.

I started with pulling back all of her decision-making freedoms. 


All of them.

I know it sounds extreme and harsh, but it was necessary to get her back on track.

She no longer got to choose anything she wore. She didn’t get to choose her cup. She didn’t get to choose whether or not she wore a coat.

Now, obviously as a four year old, it is not age-appropriate to have zero say in your decisions. A preschooler should have some decision-making freedoms, so this didn’t last long.

I took all decisions away for a few days as a way to detox her from the power-hungry-ness within her. She needed to recognize that her parents are in charge, not her. 

After a few days, I started allowing her some small freedoms. I added them in slowly and observed how she handled those added freedoms until I felt like it was the right amount.

Several months later, she did not have the same number of freedoms as she had before I took full control back. She lost those freedoms because she couldn’t handle having them all–they made her “too big for her britches.” It wouldn’t make sense to reinstate them all.

Read: Wise In Your Own Eyes Explained

How To Avoid Backtalk In the Future

Getting to a point of your child having too many freedoms can be really easy to do. We don’t always know exactly what is right for a two year old. In an effort to foster independence and responsibility, we might allow more freedom than is wise.

We can easily let our younger children have more freedom than is age-appropriate as we sometimes let there be one standard for all of the children in the family, whereas each child should have individual freedoms. We might let the youngest do something at three that the older siblings didn’t get to do until age five simply because we can’t remember when we did what. And, honestly, sometimes we allow more with younger siblings because it is just easier that way.

Read: How To Keep Siblings in the Funnel

I say that all to tell you not to spend time beating yourself up that your child got to this point. Just avoid it in the future. Here are some good tips on how to do that.

  • Be aware of “too many freedoms.” Know that it is possible to have too many and be on the lookout for symptoms of the issue.
  • Test freedoms out. Even if my child typically gets to pick her own clothes out each day, I will at times just decide what she is wearing one day to test out the reaction. If she accepts it without a fuss, her level of freedoms are good. If she throws a fit, she needs her freedoms scaled back.
  • But do give freedoms. Your answer here won’t be to avoid all freedoms or choices. Your child needs age-appropriate freedoms, and restricting will lead to frustration, rebelllion, and backtalk. 
  • Don’t be lazy. Guess what, your four year old will be upset that she doesn’t get to do everything the eight year old gets to do. You will hear, “That’s not fair” and “Why does she get to!” It is easier on a lot of levels to let the child just have her way and have everything even among the children. Don’t do it! Keep things age and child-appropriate. I know it is harder! Do it anyway.
  • Set limits ahead of time and keep those limits. If you tell your child she can watch one episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, stay true to that. If your child whines about it at any point, don’t give in. That just teaches your child whining works. Sassing and backtalk come up shortly after whining is tolerated. 
  • Stalk calm. Sometimes kids backtalk to see if they can get a reaction from you. 
  • Have fun. This suggestion might sound odd. Have some fun with it. This keeps things light. Something I do is sing songs when my kids whine or backtalk. I usually go for songs from musicals, like “It’s a Hard Knock Life” or “Agony.” They know what it means when I sing these things to them.
  • Use discipline phrases, sometimes known as one-liners, to let your child know the behavior is not acceptable. A favorite of mine for backtalk is “You don’t have the freedom to…


No matter how many children you have, whether you are on your oldest or your youngest, you will need to make adjustments. You will make mistakes. You will not be perfect. Odds are high you will face the “too many freedoms” issue. You can fix it, though! Watch for the signs and follow the steps and you will have your sweet child back in no time. 

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1 thought on “How To Stop Backtalk Now (and prevent it in the future)”

  1. How should I deal with a 9 year old pouting when he doesn't get his way or the answer to a request that he wanted? Thank you!


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