Send Help: I Have a Tween Daughter.

It has begun. The annoyed sighs and eye-rolling. The huffing and puffing (Big Bad Wolf style!). The “Ugh, Mom, I know” and “Fine, Mom.” I really thought I had a few years before the sassiness would rear its ugly head. I thought that would be teenage behavior. WRONG! My formerly respectful and sweet ten-year-old daughter has entered the back-talking phase – and it is driving me crazy!

Alien abduction

I feel like I put my well-mannered daughter to bed one night, and she must’ve been abducted by aliens that taught her to be sassy. Almost overnight, she started interrupting us to tell us what she did or didn’t do. The eye-rolling started when asked to do simple chores. For the most part, she’s a wonderful and funny kid and an excellent student, but the back-talking is getting out of hand.

When I was younger

When I was a kid, I knew not to be sassy with my parents. It was not tolerated, and I end up grounded or fussed at. Of course, my reaction to my daughter when she starts her back-talk is usually the same. But I want to approach this behavior in a different way in hopes of raising a kid who feels that they can speak up for themselves or others, but in a respectful way. The question remains though – how do I do that?

Remain level-headed

Sometimes I have to just take a step back from the situation, because it can drive me crazy! I had to learn to walk away, take a few breaths, and just count to ten. Learning to control my reaction to the back-talk is key before things get out of hand. I try my best to pause before I respond, in hopes that we can talk calmly about how she is feeling.

Figuring out the reason for the behavior

I believe that my daughter doesn’t just act this way for no reason. Sometimes, it is simply because she’s hungry, tired, or thirsty. The Snickers commercial about how you aren’t yourself when you are hungry really is true. I try to be patient while I help meet her physical needs.

Other times it is because she is feeling helpless. She can’t get away from her siblings. I have given her a list of chores she doesn’t want to do and she just feels bossed around. I don’t want her to ever feel that way, so I acknowledge her feelings and we try to talk about it without huffing and puffing.

How about a re-do

I try to give my daughter a do-over when her sassiness starts. Most of the time, a simple, “Do you need a minute to think about how you are acting before continuing?” helps to shut down the behavior. I feel like giving my daughter a chance at a re-do and asking her if she wants to talk shows her that I do care about how she feels and want to hear her thoughts, while still making it clear that she will get nowhere with mumbling things under her breath and sulking.

Trying to deal with her new behavior is tricky and I’m doing my very best. It is hard to stay patient and not go bananas, but I want her to learn how to be respectful and feel respected. I don’t want her to feel silenced, but she has to learn to speak her mind in a polite, kind way. The sassy back-talk has to end, while showing her that what she is feeling is important to work through. I fully believe that she can learn to say something like “I think you are being unfair to me”, rather than “Ugh, mom you are always so mean to me”.

I just have to try to teach her how.

Any moms of tween girls or boys dealing with this type of behavior have any other tips and tricks? Please let me know – I’m here for it!

Elizabeth Boudreaux
Elizabeth and her husband Nicholas have been married for 13 years. They live in Geismar with their 3 children, Addison (9), Parker (5), and Laurel (2). She is from Franklin, LA and moved to Baton Rouge after receiving her Master’s in Business Administration from Southeastern Louisiana University. She is a Budget Administrator for the Department of Public Safety. She relies on sarcasm, a dry sense of humor, and the occasional cocktail to deal with the daily demands of motherhood. She loves crawfish, clean sheets, vacuuming, and the latest crime documentary on Netflix.


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