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All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #013 - Teaching Kids Not to Talk Back
June 20, 2003

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #013
19th June 2003

In This Issue:

1. Five Steps for Teaching Kids Not to Talk Back
2. Toys: Tools for Learning
3. Ideas for reading practice fun

Five Steps for Teaching Kids Not to Talk Back
By Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D

The most common form of talking back is rooted in a child's natural desire to push limits to get his or her own way. Since children are children, after all, they have not yet learned to be diplomatic in expressing themselves. This kind of talking back is not serious, but it can be frustrating to you, and embarrassing in public, because it gives the impression your child is a brat and you're not a very effective parent.

Another form of talking back is rooted in anger. This type of talking back is more serious because it can often reflect a problem in your relationship with your child. There are times when children, for one reason or another, begin to become alienated from their parents and many of their responses are angry and defiant and oppositional. This kind of talking back is a signal for getting professional help from a child psychologist.

What I'm offering in this article is a solution for the everyday, garden-variety type of talking back that most kids throw at their parents. If you find you're feeling more and more upset with the way your child snaps back at you, then find a quiet time to talk with your son or daughter—and make sure it is a time when you're not feeling tense or angry. Now follow these five steps…they are not hard:

1. Build your child up. Find some nice ways to compliment your child. Why? Because you are about to criticize your child for talking back, and children always listen better to criticism after they have been made to feel good about themselves. (By the way, this works with adults, too.) Say something like, 'You know, Robert, your dad (or mom) and I are very proud of you. You're a great reader, and you play baseball so well, and you have so many nice friends.' Then, after honestly building up your child, say, 'But you know, Robert, there is one thing you have to work on…there is one thing you have to do better with. Do you know what that is?' If your child is like most kids, he won't have a clue. So say to your child, in a gentle tone, 'It's talking back.'

Okay, you've done it: you have lovingly faced your child with the problem. Now go on to Steps 2--5:

2. After you have focused your child on the problem of talking back, you need to help him understand why talking back is not acceptable . So you tell him a little story. It might go like this: 'Do you know how it hurts when somebody hits you or punches you?' Since your child has no doubt had this experience, he will be able to acknowledge how hitting hurts. Then you say, 'Well, words can also hurt. Words can be like punches. Words can hurt people's feelings. When you talk back, your words can be like a slap in the face.' You can find your own way to say this, but basically, you want to get across that sometimes we can use words to hurt people.

3. The third step involves offering to help your son or daughter with this problem. You remind your child how much you love him, but stress that talking back is a problem both of his parents want to help with. You are going to be your child's advocate—you are, in other words, going to be on your child's side to help improve his behavior. Tell your child, 'From now on, we are going to have a new rule in this house. It is called, 'The Rule of Respect.' This rule means that when you're upset or angry you can still tell us what you're feeling, but you can't mistreat us with nasty words.'

4. After introducing 'The Rule of Respect,' explain to your child, 'From now on when you start to talk back, your dad (or mom) and I will give you a signal . Maybe the signal will be me putting my finger to my mouth or touching my ear or saying the word 'hot.' We can decide later what the signal will be. When Dad or I give you the signal, that is a warning that you are talking back and you have to find a better way to talk to us. We want to be real fair and we want to help you do better with this problem. If you see or hear our signal and continue to talk back, then we will put a check mark on a piece of paper that we will keep in the kitchen. That check mark means you will be going to bed 15 minutes earlier that night for talking back. If you get four check marks, then that means you will be going to bed one hour earlier.'

5. After Step 4, explain to your child that at the end of each week, you and his dad (or mom) are going to decide how well he has been doing . If it has been a good week—good means he has really tried and has been talking back less—then there will be a privilege. The privilege may be staying up later on the weekend or making popcorn or renting a video or having a friend over or playing a game with you. Each week you say, 'We will decide what privilege you want to try to earn.'

Many parents have found this five-step approach to talking back very helpful. Remember, a good part of parenting is to help your child become a socialized human being. You're the teacher and your child is your student and your home is the classroom. How to express yourself respectfully is one of the many lessons you will be teaching your child.


Teach Me, I'm YoursTeach Me, I'm Yours - by Joan Bramsch
If You Want Your Child To Be Smart, You Be The First Teacher. An outstanding resource for parents of children aged 2.5 - 7 years. Endorsed by educators and tested in "real life", for increased skill levels, concentration ability, attention span, and self-confidence. It can even raise a child's IQ!


Toys: Tools for Learning

Through toys, children learn about their world, themselves, and others. Choosing toys that appeal to your children and foster their learning will help you make their early years count. Toys can teach children to:
· figure out how things work
· pick up new ideas
· build muscle control and strength
· use their imagination
· solve problems
· learn to cooperate with others

Remember that good toys are not necessarily expensive, and children do not need very many. The more a child can do with a toy, the more likely it is to be educational. Here are some tips to help you choose toys wisely for your child:
1. Hands-on toys build eye-hand coordination, encourage ideas about how things work, and foster cooperation and problem-solving.
2. Books and recordings help children appreciate words, literature, and music.
3. Art materials foster creativity and build skills that lead to reading, writing, and seeing beauty in life.
4. Few toys are as durable as hardwood unit blocks, and they teach children about geometry and gravity, shapes and balance.
5. Construction items contribute to muscle strength and help children learn about science and number ideas.
6. Musical instruments and experimental materials such as sand, water, and clay offer children control while appealing to their senses.
7. Active play equipment builds strong muscles and confidence to meet physical challenges.
8. Pretend play objects such as dolls, stuffed animals and dramatic figures give children a chance to try new behaviors and use their imaginations.
9. If your child attends child care or preschool, look at the types of toys available. Is there a variety of safe and interesting toys? For toddlers and young preschoolers, there should be multiple copies of toys -- a great way to avoid conflicts.

Get involved in your child's play
Match toys to fit your child's thinking, language, physical skills, feelings, and friendships. Each child grows and develops at a different pace, so watching your child's play and playing together will enable you to choose appropriate toys and worthwhile activities for your child.

Parents who take part in pretend play with their one- to three-year-old children help them to develop more varied and complex play patterns. These children, in turn, engage in more pretend play with other children and tend to be more advanced intellectually, better able to understand others' feelings, and considered more socially competent by their teachers.

Good toys are :
1. appealing and interesting to the child;
2. proper for the child's physical capacities;
3. appropriate for the child's mental and social development;
4. suitable for use in groups of children; and
5. well-constructed, durable, and safe for the ages of the children in the group.

Find out how you can stimulate and develop your child's mental and motor skills with some of these child educational toys.


Ideas for reading practice fun

Echo reading:
Having your child repeat a line after you isn’t new; it helps new readers. Add a challenge by modelling expression: your child echoes exactly HOW you say the lines – softly, loudly, fast, slowly, in a sad or happy manner, in a witch-like voice. For a bigger challenge, you read the lines in a neutral voice, but have your child echo them with a different expression each time.

Joining in reading:
You read most of the text and your child joins in to read repeated lines or words. The repetitions allow review and practice, and build confidence, so new or less-able readers will feel the security of you reading with and supporting them.

Shared reading:
Take turns reading. The easiest involves alternating lines. Or, alternate every two lines, every paragraph, every three words. For a real challenge, read half a sentence then stop. The other person has to be alert, so as to come in to continue the line.

Shared reading builds focusing skills as your child listens and follows words on the page, and prepares to enter on time. It also supports slow and reluctant readers by sharing the task of reading, and even keen readers, who find it hard to sustain longer books on their own but would enjoy the story.

I spy:
Search for specific words: focus on letter-sound links by looking for words starting or ending with certain sounds. Focus on alphabet knowledge by looking for words starting or ending with certain letters, or on grammatical knowledge by looking for adjectives or verbs. Letting your child create the ‘I Spy’ challenges sets her thinking about skills and concepts as well.

Where am I?:
This game develops scanning skills. One player reads the first part of a sentence picked randomly from a page and another player tries to spot it and complete the sentence. The faster you spot it, the smoother the continuation. Let your child experience books naturally, with enjoyment, imagination and a sense of comfort.

Games for Reading: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read by Peggy Kaye (Pantheon Books, 1984, ISBN: 0394721497)

Growing Up Reading: Learning to Read Through Creative Play by Jill Hauser (Williamson Publishing, 1993, ISBN: 091358973X)

On First Reading: Ideas for Developing Reading Skills with Children from Four to Seven by Frances James and Ann Kerr (Folens Publishers, 1993, ISBN: 0947882243)


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All the best,

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