How to Stop the Back Talk, Attitude and Sass from your Tween Child!


One of the most common battles we can face in tween to teen parenting is the battle of the mouth.

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Maybe you saw the signs and thought it was coming. Or perhaps you found yourself completely in awe of what just came out of your child’s mouth? I want to encourage you that there is hope to stop the back talk, attitude and sass that you are getting from your tween!

As I’ve dug into God’s word on how to navigate this topic with my own children, I found He has a lot to say about our words. But the one that struck me the most was Luke 6:45

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

As much as we want to address the behavior of “talking back” in our child, we must address the heart.

Yes, heart-based parenting in all areas can be challenging and time-consuming. But Mom, I believe it produces fruit that is exceedingly abundantly above what could hope for! After all, heart-based parenting is what our Heavenly Father does with us 🙂

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Today I want to give you 5 Tips to End the Back Talk, Attitude and Sass from your Tween Child

1. Decide Your Non-Negotiables

For a few years, I was very unintentional about my parenting. I didn’t pay attention to anything ahead of time. I only addressed situations as they confronted me. I wasn’t aware of “what could be a challenge for their age or stage”. I didn’t try to “prepare a plan to handle it”. It was not on my radar. If you are there, I am not shaming you, friend, I totally understand.


The problem was I was left feeling helpless. I had no plan and a total lack of confidence in my parenting.

  • I wasn’t sure what we would or wouldn’t allow.
  • I didn’t know why we made that choice.
  • I definitely didn’t think of what the consequence would be if they didn’t obey.

Well, I found that God had a better way then what I was doing on my own (surprise right?! LOL). He is always intentional with His children and His goal is always to have our hearts.

When we looked at how to apply some “intentional” to our parenting, it was clear we needed to decide what our non-negotiables were.
Non-negotiables can help you in all areas of parenting, but especially when it comes to disrespect. Pray about it, talk about it with your spouse if you are married and then write them down.

2. Discuss it With Your Child

It’s time to sit down and talk about this with your child. Pray about the timing. Pay attention to their mood and outside factors (especially if you have an emotional tween). Here are two different approaches.
#1 You haven’t explained that back talk is not to happen in your home. Maybe you have “overlooked it” or you have a mildly sarcastic gone bad type of situation. Whatever it is, be transparent with them.
#2 They know this but have been “acting up” then revisit the rule with them.
Either way, let them know that you made a mistake. That you didn’t handle this area in parenting the way you believe God wants you to. Explain that God cares very much about the words that come out of our mouths and how we treat each other.
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Share with them that this form of disrespect will not be allowed in the home anymore. Why? Because you love them and care about your relationship with them. You care about their relationship with God. God desires us to obey and be respectful in our speech and conduct. (yes, share your heart with them even if they say they don’t care what you or God think)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Let them know that you have their back. That you want to do everything you can to work with them through times where they are feeling frustrated or angry. That they will actually accomplish “being heard” more clearly when they work through it with you instead of lashing out.

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3. Talk Consequences

In our house, we often talk about “good consequences and bad consequences”.  Even with our 3 year old.

I want them to understand that our actions have outcomes. We are responsible for what we do – not what we can’t control (meaning what others do or say to us).When it is a situation that we can’t control, we can still choose to make good choices.  When we make God-honoring choices there will always be “good consequences” in our relationship with the Lord (Which is the most important goal!). There will often be “good consequences” in our relationships with others too.

Whatever way you handle consequences in your home, make sure to get to the why behind it.

Sharing God’s word with them as you work through it is always best – even when they seem less than interested! Controlling their behavior may last for a time but parenting their heart has lifelong and eternal benefits!

When it comes to back talk, share clearly what the consequence will be. Let them know that yes, there will also be grace (we’ll talk about that next 🙂 ). But they must understand that there will also be clear-cut consequences for talking back and it will not be tolerated.

Read Next:  How to Teach Hard Bible Lessons to Your Godly Girl

Note: make sure the consequence is age appropriate AND personality appropriate – that’s a whole other post but it’s important to note!)

4. Give Grace and Praise

Since you have worked on a plan and talked about it with your child, it’s now time to implement it! Let them know that good habits take time to form and you understand that.

In our house, we offer the “try again” from toddler on up.  Explain that the first _______ times/days they resort to talking back, you will ask if they would like to try again. If they say yes, and rephrase in a respectful way they will not receive the consequence. If they refuse, the consequence is given immediately.  The hard part? Be consistent in this and don’t waiver.

When you notice them rephrasing on their own or even catching themselves and “trying again” praise them and praise them a lot! Tell them what a great job they are doing, brag on them in front of your spouse or write them an encouraging note!

5. Pray Together

I always recommend praying with them at the end of the talk when tackling these heart issues with our kids. If they are willing and will even pray themselves great! If they are resistant then still pray. Keep it short and sincere. They will be listening even if they say they’re not 🙂

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Continue in prayer for them. Pray that their hearts will be softened and convicted of their sin. That they would come to their own desire to please God out of love and respect for their relationship with Him and you, not because of a “must do” behavioral check box. √

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Yes, the younger this begins the easier it will be, but Mom’s of older children don’t lose heart! They may think you’ve fallen off your rocker at first, but keep being diligent don’t give up! I have seen this work with very stubborn-hearted teens that have no interest in what God has to say about anything!

Why? Were they supermoms?


They were faithful in prayer and consistent in actions. They were broken-hearted Moms, desperate for God’s grace and intervention in their parenting. Moms who knew that when they were weak He is strong. They were determined to pursue their child’s heart like the Lord does ours. 

And You Can Be Too!

Now does this mean that the above is a foolproof way to never deal with back talk or disrespect in your parenting? No. As a matter of fact, one of mine has media taken away because of an outburst as I write this. But is that the “norm” in our home? By God’s grace, no it’s not.

Mom, If you are fighting this battle I know you need prayer! Drop a request in the comments. I would love to pray for you!

If you’re looking for more help in parenting the heart of your child make sure to sign up for one of these below!

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Joining you in the in’ between,


O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul;
You have redeemed my life. Lamentations 3:58 Da


6 thoughts on “How to Stop the Back Talk, Attitude and Sass from your Tween Child!”

  • Please pray for me. I feel like I was led to your website tonight as earlier today I broke down, and it takes a lot for me to come to that state. I’m desperate for a change and respect from my 3 children as I feel outnumbered especially when my husband is away on business trips and training exercises. The backtalk from my kids is out of control and I was immensely encouraged by your post. I feel tonight like I can do this now because you reminded me, “when we are weak, He is strong”, along with many other good points and reminders. Thank you for this and I will be reading it again in the morning along with my Bible.

    • Oh, Tabatha thank you for sharing! It’s hard enough to deal with disrespect as is but that you are often the one handling it all is so very challenging. I am absolutely praying for you and your family. I’m so thankful He reminded you of His strength that is in YOU! Keep on Mama. You can do this consistently by His grace. God cares so much for your and your children’s hearts. Focus there and He won’t leave you alone in it!

  • I love your approach to backtalk and attitude! Addressing the root cause (the heart of the child) and teaching the child the appropriate response is so much more effective in the long run than controlling the behavior. And, there is power in prayer! I would add that sometimes we (the parents) do not have all the information. We should teach our preteens how to respond respectfully and disagree appropriately. Then, our relationship improves as our adolescents feel “heard.” Thank you for your great tips!

    • Hi Ashley! Thanks so much for your encouragement! I appreciate you taking the time to read the post 🙂 I totally agree that teaching them how to respond respectfully and disagree appropriately are important pieces as well! I love what you are doing on your site, keep up the awesome work! Thanks again for stopping by.

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