Three tips for dealing with a sassy child

How to keep the attitude to a minimum.

April 05 2023

  1. It’s normal for kids to test the water and see how much they can get away with.

But for parents, the backchat and sassy behaviour can be difficult. To help keep the attitude to a minimum, try these three tips.  

Stay Calm

Stay calm and avoid getting into a war of words. While it’s easy to lose your cool once your buttons have been pushed the wrong way, kids learn appropriate behaviour from their parents.

Keep tabs on triggers

Is your child from lack of sleep? Do they usually talk back after school? Or, are they watching TV shows depicting children who talk back to parents? Find out the triggers and towards eliminating those behaviours.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Give them a chance to fix negative behaviour

Make it clear what behaviour is acceptable but also give children the chance to have a do-over after mouthing off.

As Psychologist and author Tamar Chansky wrote in an article for The Huffington Post kids usually say what they are feeling, “with the unfortunate hitch of having only novice skills in the fine art of delivery.”

Chansky suggests trying the following questions when children speak in a disrespectful manner.

“Can you try that one again, please?"

"Is this really what you want to be saying/doing right now?"

Alternatively, you can try and interpret what they wanted to say and model other ways to communicate the same message. 

For example, Chanksy explains: “So when I’m bringing in the groceries and my daughter greets me with — ‘What? You didn’t get chips?!?’ — I say, 'Mum, thank you so much for going grocery shopping on your day off, you are the best mom ever, but I’m just wondering if you happened to, with all the other things on your mind, get the chips I wanted.'"