Excerpt from Backtalk by Audrey Ricker, Carolyn Crowder, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids

by Audrey Ricker, Carolyn Crowder

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    Feb 1998, 176 pages

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If you picked up this book, chances are you are having trouble with backtalk from your children. You've probably been told that you shouldn't pay attention to it, that it's just the way children express themselves these days.

But our position is that you should do something about it. Your children need you to do something about it. With this book as your guide, you will learn a pattern of responding that will enable you to deal with backtalk immediately, every time it happens. When children are allowed to get away with backtalk, they don't learn to have respect for others.

Dr. Ricker wanted to write this book because she saw that her students' backtalk was completely out of hand, whether they were in elementary school or college. As a mother she had to deal with backtalk. She saw that firm consequences not only eliminated the backtalk problem but also helped the child.

Dr. Crowder, a psychologist and parent trainer, has long wanted to provide a theoretical and behavioral framework for handling this problem. In her parenting classes she has observed that nearly all parents are confused about, and feel helpless in, handling their children's backtalk.

This book is aimed at preventing backtalk. Parents, teachers, and other adults who deal with children will find that the book provides a clear, simple method of responding to the problem. This response consists of a Four Step Program that anyone can use, with consistent practice.

Here is a scenario that shows how backtalk can strike for the first time when it is least expected.

Case History #I: The Jones family was gathered in the living room watching television and reading while Mary Jones grilled hamburgers for dinner. Mary and John Jones are both physicians, the eleven-year-old twin boys are soccer players, and sixteen-year-old Joe is an honor student and track star. The rapport that Mary and John enjoy with their children is the envy of all their friends.

On this particular night Mrs. Jones came in to ask how everyone wanted his hamburger cooked, medium or well done?

"Medium," said one twin.

"Same," said the other.

"Medium well," said John.

"Joe?" asked Mary. "What about you?"

Silence. Joe did not even turn and look at her.

"Joe? How about your burger?" Mary prompted cheerfully.

"I'm watching this show," Joe said, his tone full of annoyance. "Can't you see that? God! " He then turned his attention back to the television, ignoring his mother completely.

Joe's response to his mother included the following characteristics: sudden rudeness, nasty tone, inflected syllables, hostility, and bullying control of the conversation. In other words, Joe started the backtalk attack without provocation, he controlled the nature of the attack, and he ended it when he decided to. Mary never knew what hit her!

At this point, parents like Mary and John typically see only two possible responses -- either to ignore the attack or to escalate the negative exchange, neither of which will help to solve the problem. In doing nothing constructive, the parents are left wondering where they went wrong and the twins are being influenced by their older brother's rude behavior.

However, there is another way to handle the situation. The parents in this example could use the steps we've outlined in this book to stop this backtalk and future attacks. It pays to be prepared to deal with backtalk before it happens. If you've already experienced it in your household, it's not too late to manage it successfully. The fact is, rude behavior needs parental intervention and being allowed to get away with backtalk is bad for your child.

Copyright © 1998 by Audrey Ricker, Ph.D. and Carolyn Crowder, Ph.D.

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