Better Parenting: Backtalk taught me 7 things (at least)

I found the book Backtalk by Audrey Ricker at a used bookstore and picked it up off the shelf. Once I realized that I had read several chapters just standing there, I thought,"I should probably just buy this." So glad I did.
why is all my frosting gone?

 7 things I learned from Backtalk

1. It doesn't have to be talk to be backtalk -- turning away, rolling your eyes, obeying only at a snail's pace, all that stuff counts because it affects the mood of the home.

2. You are responsible for the mood in your home. When somebody messes that up, you need to help them learn how it's done right. If you let it slide, you're giving them control over your responsibility.

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Eye-catching cover image, no? Hehe.
3. The consequence for the backtalk has to be immediate; it doesn't have to be perfectly logical --  it's completely reasonable for you to not want to do nice things for someone who has been rude to you.

4. Ground zero is key. In other words, what you're doing and what kind of life you're creating for your kids will affect their backtalk. The idea is to have a life so filled with goodness and love (and a healthy amount of fun) that it is easy for the kids to lose a privilege. I have caught myself saying, "That is backtalk. You have lost a privilege. . . . Hmm. What are you looking forward to?" At which point I realize that the kids are probably acting up because they're bored to death. In this case I still find a consequence to give, but I recognize that my behavior is exacerbating the problem and I try to fix that. Funny story: when you ask a three-year-old "What are you looking forward to?" He might say, "Your face." Because he was, in fact, looking at your face.

5. First, recognize backtalk. Second, determine the consequence. Third, enact the consequence and fourth, disengage.
Are we there yet?

6. Disengaging is where I was failing before. I was probably doing it only half of the time. The other half I was either letting the kids "earn back" their privileges or escalating the conflict. Jacob helped me to realize that I was escalating the conflict one memorable evening. You enact the consequence and then you drop it. If the kid won't let it drop, you separate yourself.

7. The four steps in this book work from age 3 to adulthood. I particularly liked the chapter about college-age kids. To paraphrase: "this is the same stubbornness that leads them to camp out all night for concert tickets..." :) I've also used the tips on dealing with your kids friends when they come over and use backtalk in your home. Pure, empowering, awesome that has made family life (and the mood in our home) better all around.

Note: This is a slim book. The ideas in it were not new for me and didn't cause a total turn-around in my parenting. But the book really has refined the way I deal with my children and their behavior. I highly recommend it. Also, it's one of the very first parenting books I've been able to get Jacob to peruse. He's usually happy to take my word for it when I want to implement something new in our parenting. How glad I am that this book was short enough and engaging enough to be worth his time!

What questions and comments do you have for me, friends?
*If you purchase this book through one of the links above, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Want to read about another parenting book I love? I find myself referring to it often: Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years.


  1. Wow! Thanks for these 7 points! I could do better at disengaging as well. Also... love the quote abour "your face." Haha!

    1. No problem Ashlee! I was totally shocked when he first said it and then I was like "oh, he's just being literal, haha!"

  2. This is very interesting to me. I first (at long last) began to understand back talk studying Fred Jones' Tools For Teaching and then applying it in my 6th grade classroom. I think I would enjoy this book that shows me how to apply those concepts in the home. And you might be interested in Jones' non-verbal responses to back talk - super helpful in preventing escalation.


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