When Kids Talk Back

If your kids are talking back to you, don't panic. The Saturday Early Show's Adolescence Counselor Mike Riera says it's a natural part of growing up.
For most kids, talking back is a healthy sign. It means they are testing the limits. When they push to see how far they can go, it is usually a precursor to their moving to independence.

Generally this problem comes in spurts. If you handle it firmly, it should go away. If the problem escalates, it can mean certain other needs aren't being met.

If you have a question for Mike Riera about dealing with your teen, send an email to sat@cbsnews.com with "Ask Mike" in the subject line. Or write to "Ask Mike" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019. Your question may be featured on future shows.

As young kids develop language, they may first try to test you. Your challenge is to maintain respect in the relationship. Outline the rules you want in place for how you treat each other. For some kids, it helps to explain why, so be prepared with answers.

Part of growing into an adult can be testing the limits of acceptable behavior. Teen-agers will talk back, and when they do, it is important to see it as a form of communication and not as a form of aggression.

If you ask a teen-ager to do something, like taking out the garbage, and he or she responds with, "Why don't you do it," step back and assess the situation. Ask your child why he or she doesn't want to do it. Your child may be in the middle of watching TV or some other activity. Meet a teen-ager half way. The task can always get done after the program is over.

If your child still refuses, do the task together. You don't lose face by sharing the task. In addition, it shows that you care enough to take the time.

Set limits. If your child is cursing, it is important to stop everything and explain that this is not acceptable. Problems like this must be tackled right away. Waiting or not dealing with it strongly enough sends a message to your child that this behavior is OK.

Being firm in these situations sets an example of how to handle peer pressure. It shows your kid how you stand up for what you believe in and still maintain the relationship. If you stand firm in important situations, your child will do the same.