My 6-year-old has started giving me attitude. The back talk and eye rolling is driving me nuts. I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with this until the teen years! What can I do to discourage it?

You spend months waiting for that precious first word...and even with the first few sassy comments from your toddler you're still marvelling at her ingenuity. But fast forward five years and suddenly she's getting all too comfortable with the cheeky talk! Now it’s time to re-establish ground rules for respect.

Model: You may not think the kids are paying attention to the boring adult conversation going on around them, but their little ears are always open. When the kiddies are in the room (or eavesdropping at the top of the stairs!) make a conscious effort to speak to, and about, other adults with courtesy. More importantly, be respectful when talking to your child. Aside from helping to strengthen your relationship, it also teaches them that the rules apply to everybody.

Teach them to know their audience: Little boys are going to giggle about toilet talk, and teens are probably going to drop the odd curse word, but be firm in establishing that the way we talk to our peers is not the same way we talk to our 'elders.' It sounds a bit stuffy and formal, but even as adults we all have certain friends/family members for whom we bring out our best behaviour.

Nanny Carrie's Tip: Charity begins at home right? Maybe not. If you've been busting yourself to try and set the right example and discourage sassy talk to what seems like no avail, don't despair. Find out how things are going when they’re away from you. If they are able to pull out nice manners when they go to a friend's for dinner, with grandparents, at school, then you're probably on the right track.

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Author: Nanny Carrie

Nanny Carrie always knew she wanted a big family, so she made it her business to borrow everybody else's children until she had her own. You can find her embracing the organized chaos of life with five kids and loving (almost) every minute!

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