You waited with anticipation to hear your child's first words, but now your toddler has some language that you don't want to hear. The longer you wait to put the brakes on your toddler's back talk, the harder the process becomes. Halting sass takes cooperation from parents and children. Modifying behavior also requires calm discussions about the situations when the sass happens, and then moving forward to make important communication changes.

  1. List the type of back talk, situations when your toddler sasses you and the content of your child's back talk, such as name-calling or stubborn refusal to do something you ask. Use the list to analyze your actions in response to your toddler's sass. Review the way you talk to your toddler in response to the sass, and look for potential ways your child views your comments. Consider the words you used that may have negative impact to hurt, embarrass or frustrate your child.
  2. List alternative ways to approach the situations that frequently draw sass from your toddler and use this list in dealing with your toddler.
  3. Talk with your toddler about the type of back talk and how it makes you feel. Select a calm time when you and your toddler feel relaxed and comfortable. This conversation helps your toddler understand other people also have feelings and words can hurt.
  4. Give your child ideas for things to say instead of sassing or back talk. Toddlers typically lack the words to express feelings of embarrassment, anger and frustration. Talk about these emotions and supply a key phrase for your child to use to express emotions. Comments such as, "I'm angry" and "I feel embarrassed," help you understand your child's feelings.
  5. Make a mental list of things to answer your child's new expressions that respect your toddler's feelings but still manage behavior. Comments such as "I'm sorry that you feel embarrassed, but your actions hurt others" or "I know you're angry, but you must share your toys" show you listen, but still need behavior changes.
  6. Expect respect and respond immediately with displeasure when your toddler talks back and fails to follow the appropriate behavior outlined in your discussions. Tell your toddler, "Tell me what you mean using the words we talked about."