I was talking with a friend the other day...everyone says, terrible two's, but the two's weren't so bad. Then I hear it's not two, but it's year three that's the worst. To be honest, yes, three's were worse than two's. But do you know what nobody warned me about? The FOUR'S! And we have two of them.
I mean I get it. As these kiddos grow, they're experiencing new emotions and learning what those emotions are. They're inquisitive and don't understand why you shouldn't point at others. They're still soaking up knowledge and new experiences like little sponges and it's amazing to see.
What comes with all that newness, is also them being able to verbalize more when they're angry, mad, frustrated (what have you) and have a little sass in their tone. Do they mean it? No. They don't understand sass and I know they don't mean it, but how do I stop it...enter Parents to the rescue! Here's what they recommend to combat the talking back.
First things first. You are the adult. You are the parent. Your children will learn from you and it's important to keep your composure cool, calm, and collected. To a point anyway - I mean, when your 4 year old tells you, in no uncertain manner, to be quiet, it can be hard to use your best Mom Tiger (PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who things Mom Tiger on Daniel's Tiger Neighborhood is WAY too calm ALL the time) voice and calmly ask what's wrong. I think it's important to not overreact, but in your best adult voice, let them know what they said was hurtful or not nice. Chances are if they see you react in a calm-ish manner, they won't be having big blow-ups themselves. If you aren't sure how to react, or can feel the blood pressure rising, there's no shame in going to the bathroom and taking some deep breaths yourself.
As I had shared, just because your little Ms. can be a sassy pants, doesn't mean she's doing it intentionally. She may not even know she's doing it. After you've told her what she said hurt your feelings or was rude, try to find out why she said what she did. It could be she's frustrated from a long day at school and just needed a release. She may be tired. You don't know and maybe she doesn't either. I've found it's helpful to take whichever kiddo is having a meltdown moment and separate them from the situation / room and her sisters. Sometimes having them take a few deep breaths on their own, in a different environment, can help her understand what's going on and able to share with me more.
After you've found out why your kiddo said what they said, keeping that calm composure, explain to them we don't talk / act / etc. like that in our family and share a suggestion for how they can act next time. If they acted up outside your home, tell them even though we aren't at home, what they did isn't nice and the rules we have at home for our family still apply when out and about. Side note, this may have to happen at home when things cool down AND it can be hard to discipline in front of friends / others. While it's important to correct the behavior, a bigger conversation about why they acted that way should be saved for the car ride home.
Be straight forward with any consequences and stick to them. If you tell your child, there won't be any Spongebob Squarepants...make sure there's no Spongebob Squarepants. You are the parent. It's ok for them to be mad at you, but chances are, give them a little time and you'll get an "I'm sorry" followed by a hug sooner than you think.
Because we know our young one's brains are sponges, make sure you are setting a good example for them. This is what I struggle with the most. I try to keep my cool, but there are times I just hit that point of frustration and raise my voice...ok, sometimes I yell. Then mom guilt sets in and I feel even worse. I know if I don't want my kiddos to overreact and yell, I need to model that behavior. Along with setting a good example, NEVER be shy of apologizing if you did something wrong and they notice it. If I yell, or get frustrated, I will 100% of the time apologize to my child. And I mean a true apology, not an "I'm sorry I got mad BUT you were driving me crazy yelling about me asking to eat your corn." Nope. That's not what I'm talking about. There's no "but" when apologizing. I tell them "I'm sorry I got mad. I shouldn't have been frustrated and I'm sorry I reacted that way. How about if we work on mommy staying calm and you trying a new food before saying it's yucky?" There's still mom guilt from yelling in the first place, but it's a little better after saying I'm sorry.
Lastly, positive praise when your child does something right is always welcome! Whenever one of our kiddos says please, thank you, or doesn't overreact to a situation they normally would - we make sure to let them know how proud we are of them. If we want them to use manners, make sure they know when they've used them correctly and that they did a great job being a big girl / boy. You'd be amazed at how proud they feel when they know they did something right.
If you've got a balk talker at home - try these tips and let me know how they go! Would you add anything to the list? I'm all ears!