How-To Handle Teen Backtalk and Disrespect

How-To Handle Teen Backtalk and Disrespect

Teen backtalk and disrespect: The biggest issues in teenage is that children start backtalk during this age. When your children cannot control their emotion, they become rude to you and you see teen backtalk and disrespect you.

Other common reasons I find my teen backtalk is when they have wanted something that I am objecting to or when they are running away from work.


  • What is backtalk or backtalking?
  • Why do a Teen Backtalk and disrespect?
  • Why should we address teen backtalk and disrespect as soon as possible?
  • How to decrease defiant behavior
  • 10 ways to handle your teen backtalk and disrespect
  • Sample conversations that can end backtalk
  • 11 Things to do after a back talking episode
  • 12 Secret strategies your teenager uses
  • Positive ways to respond to backtalk
  • Conclusion
  • Disclaimer

What is backtalk or backtalking?

The definition of backtalk in as per dictionary is: Rude or cheeky remarks made in reply to someone in authority.

Backtalk is disrespectful. And when your teen does it, he or she is trying to undermine your authority as a parent.

Teen backtalk and disrespect is not an acceptable behaviour in any circumstances. And no self-respecting human should accept rudeness and cheeky remarks even if it comes from their own child.

Why do a Teen Backtalk and disrespect?

During teens, children can undergo many hormonal, social, physical, and psychological changes which will affect their personality and make it difficult to speak with them.

Also, another reason for teen backtalk and disrespect is that the teen’s need to live up to their peer group standards. For this, help your teen understand peer pressures, how to identify them and how to tackle them.

We have addressed them in our article peer pressure do educate yourself on this and have a talk with your team at an appropriate time.

When children go out, they meet other children and begin to compare themselves with others and a lot of demand increases.

Then when the parents do not fill this demand for any reason, then your teen backtalk and disrespect you and use rude behavior.

Your teens want to talk more with their friends because they are of the same age, but when they get into wrong company then that usually leads to them getting the wrong advice and learning of slang language and use of unparliamentary words.

Also, a kid learns slang language and use of unparliamentary words form TV, Songs, and media. Even some video games use swears words. All this leads to teen backtalk and disrespect.

When your teen is in the what I call “the zone”. they can be masters in talking back and making you get more and more irritated and angry.

Your mounting anger coupled with your teen continuing to argue until the discussion turns into a screaming encounter. Then child becomes rebellious and starts backtalk.

Mostly with the intention to hurt you. Or guilt you and try to get you into giving in to what they want.

Teen backtalk also happens when your teen is stressed unable to overcome some challenges that they are facing in life. And you giving them more instructions of work overwhelm them. And they take it all out on you.

As parents one of the important life skills that we need to teach our children is how to face challenges with the right attitude. If you like to read more on this topic how to teach your child to face challenges to read article face challenges.

Why should we address teen backtalk and disrespect as soon as possible?

When your child speaks back, but regardless of how disrespectful and disgusting it is immediately, it is as parents our duty to handhold and correct them while we try to defend ourselves.

Parent’s job is to assist your child and change their rude behavior by teaching them the way to express his point of view more respectfully and appropriately.

By addressing in correcting the behaviour as in when it happens. We as parents also ensure that this does not become a habit.

Sometimes parents let it go because they have no time to deal or teach their child. I am one of the culprits of this.

But what I found was by pushing things under the rug and never addressing the issue. Becomes unhealthy in the long run.

While in the short run. It brings about peace. The topic is closed and there is the much-needed silence.

However, by just avoiding talking will not work, because then your child does not learn how to express him differently.

Reach out to your teen and work with them to curb this backtalk issue.

Note: Reaching out to teenagers is much easier when you built an emotional connection with them. If you are wanting to know how to build an emotional connection, we have written about this in our article emotional connection.

How to decrease defiant behavior

  1. You and your teen workout and agree to a pre-planned schedule.
  2. Stick to the plan. Do not throw surprises. They always lead to negotiation.
  3. Revisit, negotiate and change the schedule when there is a need. A schedule set when your teen is 13 years old. May not completely hold good when they are 18 years old.
  4. If you are making an adoc request. Give them a timeframe (ample time) by when things need to be done.
  5. Proactively give your time for your kids. So that they do not have to seek attention from you.
  6. Find the triggers for back talk and proactively avoid it.
  7. Talk with your teen and engage in activities that is fun for your teen. And do not limit your time only to give them instructions or point their mistakes or criticize.
  8. Get to understand the root cause of the stress that is leading to backtalk and proactively solve it for them
  9. Give your teen complements whenever possible. Complement them on their dress, their appearance, their mannerism, their behavior with siblings etc…
  10. Pay attention to how you talk and interact with others. Be it your spouse, or parents or strangers.

10 ways handle your teen backtalk and disrespect

Physical, psychological, hormonal, and social changes go through adolescence. As parents, communicating with your teenager can be a complex task.

Here are the most effective ways to respond when your teen backtalk and disrespect you:

Create Rules that Highlight Respect

Create rules for your child that explains which behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors will not be tolerated.

Some parents do not care about child behavior, while other parents have more concerns and get depressed about children.

It is very important to make rules that help their child know how to speak and talk with others.

Aspirants we need to accept that we have little or no control over the friends or exposure a teen gets in the outside world. However, what is well within our control is to have clear and transparent and consistent family rules. Rules which are meant for every member of the family and no one gets to break it.

One non-negotiable rule in our family is not to use profanity. It is drilled into children right from the time they learn to speak their first word.

I do agree that my teens have at times tried to push limits of this rule by using words (profanity) when they are angry. But I can also tell with confidence that not a single time they got away with it.

Calm down

Shouting or arguing will further increase the situation. So, be calm, whatever your child says, be calm. While I know during the episode it is very difficult for us as parents to remain calm.

But what I have noticed is back talking usually happens first before things get into an anger outburst. So, knowing this pattern when I hear the first signs of back talking happening. I address it. And you said as an excuse to walk away from the situation. 

Take a deep breath, move away, or develop a calm environment. Do whatever it takes to prevent your anger from getting the most out of it.

Note: This can also be called as an avoidance practice, but I feel should not be practiced all the time. Then you would not be able to hear out what is troubling a teenager.

Also, it can lead to depression in your teenager if they are constantly ignored and not heard. No and find out if your teenager is battling depression Read the informative article depression

Know the patterns:

Talking back is usually caused by a teenager’s desire to get rid of something your child does not want to do. It can be a chore or help that you have requested or a work that you have asked the child to do.

One pattern I have noticed with my elder son is, the longer I am in discussion with my child, the longer it can take to do what you want him to do. So, I tried my best not to take this bait and get into a discussion.

The pattern I have noticed with my second son is when I give him an instruction or ask me to do something. He starts by huffing and puffing and uses one of these mannerisms.

Rolling his eyes, dropping his shoulders, bending his head down as if he were defeated etc. etc.

When I notice this pattern, what works for me is that I do not make eye contact, do not return, or do not pay attention to behavior. It will most likely stop. And I could keep my child following my directions.

Figure out the patterns for your children. And have your own mechanisms designed.

Knowing patters also help in preventing anger outbursts. If your teen is facing with anger related issues you must read article anger management.

Give a Warning

If your child refuses to follow your instructions or continues to act disrespectfully, give them a warning. Tell me what the result will be if it does not stop.

For my elder son I found that most of his language use comes from the lyrics of the songs that he listens to. While I would love that he does not listen to these songs.  But it is always fallen into deaf ears. I have highlighted this to him a million times.

But when he back talks and uses language that is not acceptable in the family, one of the key baits I have is the warning to take his iPod off.

Note: Do not repeat the warning repeatedly. Instead, give a single warning and follow the result of it if it does not change its behavior.

Honor your warning and Follow with Results

If your child violates a rule or does not change his behavior when you give him a warning, follow a result.

Remove privileges or assign additional responsibilities as needed.

It is important to deal with an iron fist wearing a velvet glove to your teen according to situation.

For example, your child behaves rude, you take the cell phone for 3 hours. If your child behaves rude again during this time, it will restart 3 hours.

In this way, you help your child to work for good behavior by recycling his cell phone.

Sometimes parents avoid being able to be clear about expectations and struggling to speak back quietly in a calm and composed manner (God! It is difficult) around their children.

If your child is always talking back and you are not setting strict limits around him. You are unfortunately giving him a signal that it is OK to repeat it. And you will see your teen start repeating these behaviours often basis success rate.

Problem Solving Together

If talking back has become a common problem in your home, use this opportunity to teach young people about your problem-solving skills. Wait until everyone calms down and work together to solve the problem.

Sit down and discuss your concerns about disrespect. Invite your child to offer ideas and strategies on how to handle this behavior.

Make it clear that you want everyone in the house to treat each other with respect.

Show that you want to make changes.

For example: My son once highlighted that he gets irritated because I would tell him to do chores during a cricket match. He then requested if I would respect his need to watch the match.

And avoid giving him a chore that time and he’s OK to do the same any other time. This small adjustment helped us in the long run.

Disrespectful behavior can be improved with a proactive and consistent plan.

Learning how to interact with others without being rude is an important life skill that will serve young people well.

When children are taught to problem solve. And they find positive results it automatically boosts their self-confidence. There are also other ways to increase teenager’s self-confidence do read article self-confidence.

Teach your child acceptable and unacceptable social standards

Hey why Lee Child is unique. And they should not be forced to live up to societal standards. But still good behaviour is never wrong thing to teach.

Clear to your child what is rude and what is good or what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in a society.

Tell your child exactly what he can and cannot do and tell him what the consequences will be if he crosses the line.

The best way to teach your child is by example. Pick up examples from your past. Or from people around that your child has interacted with.

Teach your child how to behave with parents and others in home and others public places.

These teaching will form a fundamental base for your child in forming healthy relationships and successful workplace behaviours.

Do not take it personally:

Try to think of a time when your child is angry and says things they do not understand. Imagine your child doing this while yelling at you.

It is important to remember that no matter how sad your child is, they still love you and needs’ your approval.

So, do not take it personally. Remember, as soon as you get into a discussion and the child starts talking back, your child has effectively transferred their responsibility and to you.

And when you start arguing and responding to their backtalk equally. Your maturity level drops to your child’s level and you become peers.

You will most likely be overreacting in this situation because you react to angry words instead of the message or the call for help behind those words.

So, when you take these words personally. You either land up feeling guilty. And the guilt will make you given to your child’s desire. Or you land up getting worked up and stressed. Which will take a toll on your health and mental wellbeing.

So, try to tell yourself that it is a teenager’s tactics. And detach yourself from the words that your teen is throwing at you. Do address the rude behaviour and do not let it slide. But be firm and do not let the words get to you.

Get away from the fight

It is important to use the “acting stance” when tensions begin to increase, and you feel you need to pull yourself together. Even if you do not feel calm, try to act this way.

Say, “I’m not talking to you right now. We will talk later when you calm down”. If your child tries to keep picking up a fight, keep getting back and is clingy and irritating (my elder one and my daughter do this to me), you really need to get away from the situation.

Leave the room or go for a walk or a drive if your child is big enough to be left alone. It definitely helps your child not have anyone to talk to. They can go back sulking to their “Den”, but this will not have much effect. If you are not there, this goal of not being there for your child to suck the energy out of you. It also gives time for both of you to calm down.

How we present ourselves makes a difference with children. If we do not participate in the discussion. If we do help in finding solution but we will not consider it as part of our own problem. Then your child will get the message and we also unintendingly do not reduce our child’s responsibility.

Get to know your own responses:

It is important to know your own responses or “triggers” that push your buttons. There are probably things that your child can say will not affect you at all, but then there are other things that really upset you.

To change your answer to your child, you need to know your triggers better yourself.

For example, in the heat of that moment, your child says, “You are the worst mother in the world”.

My kids’ favourite is “Work if more important to you than me”. There might be a truth in it. But at the same time the realities, the situation you are facing, and your priorities are best known to you. For me, this line used to really push my button. And he takes me on a guilt trip. This sentence puts me always on the back foot and I noticed that I ultimately would say “okay fine go.” to stop the conversation.

And once I figured this, things changed. I pre-empted his statement by saying “I know work is important for me. Yet I am here giving time to you and talking to you. So, let us concentrate on the matter we have in our hand”. 

It can be very surprising for kids when you answer differently.

Sample conversations that can end backtalk

I have given below few sample conversations that can get you thinking.

These are conversations that you need to deliver in a clam but firm way.

To give your teen a message that the conversation is over. And the reason why you are ending the conversation.

  1. “Let’s end this conversation now and start when you are calmer”.
  2. “You have spoken enough. I heard you. Do not wish to fight. Let me cool it off”
  3. “Not in the right frame of mind to talk. We will talk once we cool down.”
  4. “I object to your tone. I do not like it. Talk to me when you get back to normal.”
  5. “We don’t talk this way in this house. Please talk when you find your manners back”
  6. “You are being rude. And it is not OK. Talk to me after you apologise for being rude”
  7. “You need to stop this right now. Else face consequence for your backtalk”
  8. “I can’t talk to you unless you change your tone and attitude”
  9. “I heard you. But I will not talk till you cool off”
  10. “Your language is unacceptable. And I will not engage in a conversation with someone who speaks like this. Find your manners and we will speak”

12 Secret strategies your teenager uses

I have listed below the types of back talk your teenager will use.

  • #1 Strategy:  Procrastinate
  • #2 Strategy:  Not Bothered
  • #3 Strategy:  Justice/ The Judge
  • #4 Strategy:  Non-Verbal defiance
  • #5 Strategy:  Avoidance
  • #6 Strategy:  Guilt Trip
  • #7 Strategy:  Push Boundaries
  • #8 Strategy:  Shut You Out
  • #9 Strategy:  Paralyze You
  • #10 Strategy:  Blame Game
  • #11 Strategy:  Provocation
  • #12 Strategy:  Temper Tantrum

Positive ways to respond to backtalk

I have listed above the types of back talk your teenager will use. But what good is it if you do not know how to respond to it.

So, Here I will address the positive ways (antidotes) you can use to respond to every strategy they use.

My kids use every one of these strategies at different times to test my limits I guess…

However, a wise parent is well prepared to not only face the volley thrown at you. But also respond in a way that is least destructive and healthier. 

For Your Teen’s strategy:  Procrastinate:

Example: “I will do it in some time”, “later…”, “Give me 5 mins” etc…

The antidote: Respond to it with an event tied to the completion of your task.

Example of your reply: “Ok, you can have your TV time after you complete”

Your teen’s strategy:  Not Bothered

Example: “Ok…Ok…”, “Fine… Whatever” etc…

The antidote: Ignore. Make you point and leave it.

Your teen’s strategy:  Justice/ The Judge

Example: “It’s not fair”, “You are being unfair” etc…

The antidote: Understand why and give explanation once your point of view.

Example of your reply: “You can’t stay out late because we care for your safety”.

Your teen’s strategy:  Non-Verbal defiance

Example: Rolling eyes, shrugging, Heavy sigh etc… 

The antidote: Laugh or chuckle and Ignore it.

Your teen’s strategy:  Avoidance

Example: “ohh… I forgot”, “Remind me later”, “It slipped my mind.” 

The antidote: Tell them they need to own it and take responsibility. If needed teach them few techniques to “not forget”.

Example of your reply: “Even if you forget. It is still your responsibility. Next time please write it down in your diary”

Your teen’s strategy:  Guilt Trip

Example: “You don’t care for me”, “You don’t love me”, “I am not important to you” 

The antidote: Do not get trapped into the guilt trip they are taking you in. Focus on the outcome you wish and reinforce it.

Example of your reply: “We are not talking about if I love/ care for you. You need to be home by 7 PM as it is our family rule to keep everyone safe”

Your teen’s strategy:  Push Boundaries

Example: “Try me…”, “I won’t do it”, “You can’t make me do it.” 

The antidote: Be stern and firm. Make your point and mention the consequence.

Example of your reply: “Sorry, you will need to follow the rules. Else you should be prepared for the consequence”

Your teen’s strategy:  Shut You Out

Example: “Not your business”, “It is not your problem”, “Nothing you need to know”, “Leave me alone” 

The antidote: Respect your teen’s request if they do it occasionally. If they do it frequently and you find them struggle. Respond with a fixed time to talk.

Example of your reply: “Ok. Can we speak today after dinner”?

Your teen’s strategy:  Paralyze You

Example: “I wish you die”, “I hate you”, “I wish you are not there” 

The antidote: Do not take it personal. Move past it. And focus back on the topic.

Example of your reply: “Ok. But you still need to be home by 7 PM as it is our family rule to keep everyone safe”

Your teen’s strategy:  Blame Game

Example: “I not my problem”, “It is your fault”, “You did not teach me” 

The antidote: Shift the responsibility back to your teen. Bring the conversation to the present and reiterate the issue.

Example of your reply: “You need to study. It is your responsibility. Doing your day to day chores is not an excuse for not studying. You need to plan your time better”

Your teen’s strategy:  Provocation

Example: “You are not my mother”, “You cannot control me”, “You have no rights” 

The antidote: Your teen is trying to provocative you to fight with them. Do not get into that trap. Instead state your responsibility and reiterate your instruction.

Example of your reply: “I am responsible for you. I care and hence I insist that you follow house rules and come home by 7 PM”.

Your teen’s strategy:  Temper Tantrum

Example: “I want it now”, “Get me now”, “Do it now” 

The antidote: Your teen is trying to threaten and exercise pressure on you. Do not give in. Respond with firmness that you will only speak once they cool it off and ask you with respect.

Example of your reply: “You will not get a phone because you demand it. Ask politely and make your case. We will talk on it”

Almost 80% of my teens backtalks stems from these 12 strategies. Guess what? I have found the same strategies used by most of my teen’s friends too…

Looks like some secret school they all attend that teaches them all these methods. Ha…

So, now that you know how to effectively respond to most of the types of backtalk. Practice and make yourself perfect.

(references taken from


Take some time and introspect on every outburst episode with you kid that that you have had. Try to figure out your response in these situations and try something new the next time.

There is no right and wrong answer in parenting. And there is no quick fix or fixed answer on how you can handle a situation.

It is definitely a trial and error method. And what works for one kid does not work for the other.

So, what is more important while parenting is that you are clear about what you expect out of the child. Be consistent in your approach and bring about transparency.

And continue to strive to make things better for your child no matter what the situation is.

God Bless!!


I like to make a disclaimer here. I am not a medical practitioner and more about me, my qualification and experience or that of my team you can read in About Us page.

However, I am a mother growing 3 kids. Am a concerned parent.

I like to share my knowledge with the hope that it will be help to someone somewhere and make a difference to a very worried parent.

I have written this article, basis my experience, my talk with experts in this line and research on this topic. Also, I have implemented it in my life with my kids.

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Nothing contained in this site is or should be considered or used as a substitute for any medical or professional advice.

It should not also be a substitute for mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you are feeling concerned and worried about your kid. Your instinct tells you to be concerned.

As a parent to parent. I would say trust your instinct. No one knows better than you as a parent to your child. It is best to reach out to a qualified practitioner to address your concern.

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