How To Stop The Sass and Back-Chat


I’m not sure if it is the result of the long summer holidays, the age combination, hormone surges or the phases of the moon but the sass levels in my house are at an all time high at the moment.

The prime culprit is the pint-sized diva. She is 4 going on 14 and the amount of sass in that little body is beyond belief.

When I caught myself in a screaming match with her over bath time the other night, I knew something had to change.

I felt ashamed. Yes, she has a knack of pushing all my buttons and when I’m tired I don’t respond well. But that’s no excuse. I am the adult after all, and I’m very conscious of the fact she’s learning from me.

She’s also learning from her two older brothers and how we interact. I needed an intervention. Stat.

So I did what any rational parent in the 21st century would do – I asked Google.

“How do I stop the sass?”


The first article that turned up was pure gold. Mum, Vicki Glembocki, road tested some methods on her 3 daughters and gave ‘Sass-Blasting Ratings’. Gold, I tell you.

Now the methods she tried are not rocket science and they are things we all know, but I for one definitely need to be reminded from time to time.

They were:

  •         Set Ground Rules
  •        Keep Your Emotions In Check 
  •        Follow Through
  •        Try a Little Tenderness
  •        Give Props For Nice Talk

Now according to Vicki, the big scorers here were the last two: Tenderness and rewarding Nice Talk.

Desperate for immediate results, I went straight for the big guns and boy was I pleasantly surprised.

Responding to her narkiness and back-chat gently with a soothing tone really deescalated things and changed the direction of our interaction.

Obviously a big part of implementing this one was also keeping emotions in check!

Identifying the key times for Miss Sassy Pants to rear her pretty little head was also important. The bath, dinner, bed routine is fraught in any household but, as I am outnumbered 3 to 1, it can get pretty unruly around here.

I think my littlest one feels overwhelmed when she is tired so gets louder and more demanding to compensate.

Rather than be loud back I have been gently letting her know I’m listening and am here to help her. It often takes a deep breath (or twenty), and things can take a little longer, but it results a much better outcome for all of us.

As for rewarding ‘nice talk’ rather than simply punishing back-chat – this is very effective with all my kids.

Everyone loves a pat on the back and most of us respond well to praise. Kids are no exception and while we are reinforcing positive behaviours, we are also building their self-esteem at the same time. Win-win!

Dealing with sass and back-chat is obviously going to be an ongoing issue as the boys become teens so I will also definitely be restablishing ground rules and setting some clear consequences.

Then all I need is someone to praise me when I follow through!


Do you get a lot of sass and back-chat at home? How do you deal with it?



About Author

Renee Meier

Renée is a freelance writer, perpetual student and aspiring novelist. In her spare time she's the sole parent to 3 rambunctious little people. She survives predominantly on coffee and squishy hugs.

1 Comment

  1. I have to constantly remind myself how old my kids are and remember that they are still young and learning how to react when things don’t go their way.
    I hear myself shouting at them sometimes and in my head I am thinking to myself, Why are you yelling at them like this ? I know myself that I sound like a crazy person. I am trying to loosen up a little and remember what it was like when I was a kid and think about what sort of approaches I could have benefited from.

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