Written by: Angelina Threadgill, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Yes, that’s what you want, and no, it is not rude.
I see it almost every day and even more frequently this time of year. Parents tell their toddlers that they are being rude or bad for talking back. But let’s take a look at what talking back actually is. It is a response to something that someone else, in this case, the parents, tell their kids. And mostly, what they hear is a demand or punishment. Naturally, that’s something we as adults would question, or we’d at least be trying to explain ourselves. In children, though, this is considered rude or disrespectful. But why is that? Aren’t children allowed to have an opinion or disagree with us?
I mean, we question everything, schools, political decisions, medical treatments, the cars others drive, the way we raise children, the way we wash clothes, how we dress.
Why do we tell our children not to question what we decide for them? And why do not more parents teach their toddlers to talk back?
It’s simply because we don’t know it any different. It is understandable that many of us still feel like talking back is rude, and something a toddler isn’t supposed to do. We feel that way because that’s how we were raised. We were taught that one does not talk back.
So, it’s not surprising that many of us use it as a parenting tool. But I’d like you to think about what it does to our toddlers when we use it.
Firstly we teach our toddlers that we have power over them and the strongest wins, even though that might not be the one with the best arguments.
Our toddlers learn that their opinions don’t matter and that they are not being heard or understood. We simply tell them we don’t want to hear what they have to say. That makes our children feel like they don’t matter and they don’t learn how to stand up for themselves but rather surrender to their fate. This might sound harsh to you, and it should because we all want the best for our children, and that’s why it is so important for us to understand how our behavior can affect them.
We take away their chance to learn how to argue in a sophisticated way and verbalize their arguments and emotions.
Have you ever wondered why your toddlers choose you to fight and argue with the most? Because you are the person they feel most comfortable around, and that loves them no matter what.
Talking back is a big step in a toddler's mental and social development.
They learn that they can change an outcome by using words and arguments. Talking back helps children to get their point across, boosts their vocabulary, and teaches debating skills. A child that is encouraged to speak their mind from an early age will most likely form healthy self-esteem, know how to express feelings adequately, and doesn’t simply follow the rules but checks to what extent they are useful.
And that is the reason why you want your toddler to talk back, why you even want to encourage that behavior.
It’s only a small shift in how we talk to our toddlers that can turn the disadvantages into positive traits that benefit them even as adults.
The hard part is to find out what things we do or say to our children and how it makes them feel. To make this more relatable, I often tell the moms I have the opportunity to work with to imagine being in a similar situation.
By imagining a similar situation, you have the possibility to feel the way your toddler feels, which makes it so much easier to empathize because you understand what’s going on with your child.
So talking back is an opportunity—an opportunity for you and your child to connect and learn from and with each other.
Angelina Threadgill, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Angelina Threadgill is a German educator, parenting consultant, and mother dedicated to supporting moms of toddlers to achieve a less stressful everyday life without feeling overwhelmed by showing them how to get a better understanding of not only their toddlers but their own behavior and guiding them to a mindful way of parenting without punishment. Over the last decade, Angelina has been working successfully with parents and children between the age of 1 and 6 years in different countries and from different cultures. Her focus is always on finding behavioral strategies that are individually tailored to the needs of the mothers and their toddlers. Angelina has a German degree in education and further education as a practical guide for prospective educators and fluent in German and English.