Family Life


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Raising Davis: Dealing with back talk

Just as our seasons sometimes
transition from hot to
cold without middle-ground
temperatures of spring or fall,
sometimes my son goes from
being kind and respectful to a
know-it-all without any warning.
Davis is only seven; however,
what has come out of his mouth
lately feels more like 13 to me.

What happened to the next few
years of sweetness and innocence
that I was so looking forward
to? And how do I fi gure out if he
actually understands what he is
saying or if he is mimicking what
he has heard from someone older?

I am mortified to share this
example, but here goes: We were
in a restaurant and he wanted the
ketchup. He actually said “Pass
me the ketchup, woman!” I was
shocked. At first, I didn’t know
how to react.

He knew by my face that he
had said something wrong and
quickly asked why “woman” was
a bad word. I explained that the
word itself is not bad, but you can
use a perfectly good word and say
it in a disrespectful way.

We had a long discussion about
how to address someone properly
and he has not said it since.

He is testing us with all kinds
of disrespectful tones lately. The
other day he asked me “What’s
your problem?” He will often
say “no” when we ask him
to help out. We then suggest
a disciplinary action and he
quickly snaps out of it.

Our former strategy of timeouts
used to work – Davis is
very social and doesn’t like to be
away from us. However, he now
loves to read so we can hear him
in his room cheerfully reading a
book during time-outs. This is no
longer an effective punishment.

Our current strategy when he
takes a disrespectful tone is to take
away privileges, such as playing
with video games or favourite
toys. This is effective for a couple
of days, but inevitably, there is
another rebellious outburst.

The weather is getting colder
and I am not ready to hunker
down for winter just yet. Davis is
getting saucier and no amount of
extra outer wear is going to nip
this chilly attitude!

Meghan Bradley is a full-time sales rep and mother of Davis, 6, and step-mother to Madison and Mackenzy, 16. To read more of Meghan’s Mommy Diaries, visit or follow her on Twitter @raisingdavis.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2012.

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