Bad Attitude: Reverse Your Child's Rudeness in 1 Week - With Food

Bad Attitude: Reverse Your Child's Rudeness in 1 Week - With Food

by Audrey Ricker, Brian Cabin


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781579545901
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 08/03/2002
Edition description: REV
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 8.72(h) x 0.59(d)

Table of Contents

Part 1How Food Affects Your Child's Body and Behavior
Chapter 1Is Food Causing Your Child's Rudeness?11
Chapter 2Identifying the Symptoms of Food-Related Rudeness24
Chapter 3The Unmistakable Biological Link between Nutrition and Behavior31
Part 2Solutions That Reverse Rudeness
Chapter 4Food Cures45
Chapter 5Basics of Nutrition and Planning Your Child's Menu71
Chapter 6The Best and Worst Attitude-Altering Foods for Your Child91
Chapter 7Beyond Nutrition: The AAA Method for Reversing Bad Attitude111
Part 2Making It Work in Your Home
Chapter 8Your Game Plan: A Week's Worth of Menus and Recipes129
Chapter 9Helping Kids Deal with Problem Food Situations151
Chapter 10Making It Happen169
Chapter 11Your New Happy Home: Making Positive Changes That Last190


There's one very simple reason behind my passionate determination to write the book you are reading now:

The discipline methods in my previous books didn't always work.

As coauthor of two other books on children's behavior, Backtalk: Four Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids and Whining: Three Steps to Stopping It Before the Tears and Tantrums Start, I thought I had a handle on stopping rudeness in kids. The advice in these books is based on psychological principles and literally tends to work like magic. When a child is rude, whiny, or displays other unwanted behavior, the parent enacts a consequence that the child dislikes. The child will, in order to avoid facing the consequence again, stop that behavior. Many, many readers told me that this simple idea had changed their lives for the better, put them in charge of their homes again, and made their children treat them with respect. (I'll provide a new version of methods like these in chapter 7 of this book so you can try them yourself.)

But I began hearing from some parents who did everything these books advised and still were unable to stop their children's rudeness. "The strategies you recommend in your book are useless with my child," one mom said. "I've taken all kinds of privileges away from my son as consequences for his backtalk, and still he is terrible to me. Frankly, I've run out of any new consequences to use!" Other parents said the consequences they imposed stopped their children's rudeness for a few hours, but no longer. Still others reported that the consequences had stopped the backtalk for a week or so, and they had thought the problem was solved. But soon, the rudeness would begin again, causing the parents to feel as though nothing had been accomplished. My coauthor, a trained Adlerian psychologist, attributed these failures to parental "misapplication" of the advice in our books. There may have been some truth to that, but I knew the answer was just not that simple. These parents deserved a better answer than that.

Clearly, some kids' rudeness was beyond the control of any ultimatum, consequence, or other behavioral strategy. What on Earth, I agonized, was going on with these kids who couldn't be helped by the strategies that had worked so well for others?

A Parent's Intuition

As I was pondering the question of this unexplained rudeness, I thought back to my own experiences raising my son. I recalled that he had been unbearably rude at times—until I noticed that he acted especially awful when he ate anything with sugar in it or drank any sugar-sweetened, artificially colored beverage. That kind of physiological response to foods heavy in sugar or refined carbohydrates ran in my family, so I hadn't been surprised that my son was the same way. I quickly learned to restrict the amount of these foods in his diet—something that significantly improved his behavior and, I believe, did a lot to help him lead a happy, productive life.

Could diet also be a factor in the rudeness of the children whose parents had written me? I suspected it might. And I was sure that these weren't isolated cases.

A Scientist's Observations

Because I am a scientist as well as a parent, I have had unique opportunities to observe children's behavior in an objective, detached way. One research study I completed a few years ago seemed particularly intriguing as I pondered causes of rudeness in children. This project required me to spend more than 120 hours in the homes of middle school students, observing their use of television, video games, and other media between the time they got home from school and when their parents arrived home from work. The most interesting observation I made during this study, though, concerned the children's diets rather than their media use.

I noticed that all of the participants were allowed whatever foods they liked, whenever they wanted them. This diet was a far cry from the kind I had grown up on, which was heavy on meat, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. As a child, I usually had fruit for my snacks, and I was allowed sweets only for dessert, at birthday parties, and during outings to the ice cream store. In stark contrast, the kids in the study seemed to have sugar and grease as their staple foods.

After a half-hour or so of gorging on chips, ice cream, soda, and cake in various combinations (they tended to go from sweet foods—covered with canned whipped cream in one home—to salty snacks, such as chips), these subjects would, I observed, all become sullen and rude. Their attitudes toward me would go from being positive and productive, as in, "Hi, Audrey! Come see the algebra homework program I just got!" to negative and counterproductive. ("I don't want to do the algebra program. I think I hate that program. Isn't it time for you to go home?") They would begin calling one another obscenities and would get into fights. Their energy levels would roller-coaster from hyper-high to a sluggish low—resulting in deep sleep or restless attempts to start activities, such as doing homework or playing some basketball, that soon ran out of steam. I saw these dramatic, dysfunctional swings in attitude and behavior happen like clockwork nearly every day of my study.

The pieces of this puzzle were beginning to assemble into a clear picture: A poor diet—one high in processed snacks, sugary treats, and fast food—must play a role in otherwise unexplainable rude and aggressive behavior in children. This was something I had intuitively known as a parent and seen time and time again as an objective observer in research studies. Yet as I delved deeper into the occurrences of diet-related behavior changes, I soon came to realize that the extent of this problem might be larger than I had ever imagined.

Teachers and Parents Report Increased Rudeness in Kids

About this time, I participated in a study of more than 50 teachers in six states. My job was to ask them, in group interviews, what emotional and physical changes they had seen in students in the past 6 years.

Increases in rude, out-of-control behavior and in bad attitudes in class were the most startling changes noted by all the teachers I interviewed. It didn't matter what discipline methods these teachers used, the students' rudeness would be uncontrollable—especially after lunch. True, this behavior didn't apply to every student and didn't happen every day, but it was now happening often enough, these teachers said, to make their jobs a lot more difficult.

Next, I began questioning parents of children of all ages. Yes, most of them said, their kids' bad attitudes had gotten worse in the past few years. These parents most often reported uncontrolled outbursts, negative thinking, and hateful words. It is as though, one parent put it, "a demon possesses them from time to time."

Media Reports of Rudeness on the Rise

I also noticed a disturbing rise in the number of news accounts reporting acts of aggressive, antisocial behavior by children. I'm not talking about acts of violence such as schoolyard killings. Such incidents of children acting out are beyond the scope of this book and the solutions offered. I'm talking about bullying, verbal threats, making false reports to authorities about parental or teacher abuse, and other bad-attitude behaviors children didn't seem to display 30, 20, even 10 years ago. Children in these news stories tended to be from functional families in good communities. Yet something was clearly wrong.

Medical Evidence for My Suspicions

My next step was to pore over research I had done for a book on nutrition, Smart Guide to Healing Supplements. My research showed that there was basic medical evidence proving that certain foods and ingredients—such as caffeine and sugar—could affect mood and energy levels. But my studies also revealed a gaping hole in the amount of research done in this field. Though parents have suspected a link between certain foods and poor behavior for years—even decades—science simply hasn't caught up. And though additional studies are currently under way, the scientific method is slow and laborious, and conclusively proving such a link could take years. Clearly, the children who suffer from uncontrollable rudeness (and the parents who love them) can't wait that long for an answer.

It was then that my goal became clear: I would gather the information on what currently is known in medical circles about diet-related behavioral changes. I would then add to that information the anecdotal evidence that parents, teachers, and other child-care providers have observed for decades. For the first time, parents wouldn't have to rely on intuition and trial and error when they observed what they suspected to be diet-caused behavioral problems. Best of all, this resource would include all the best advice available for transforming a rude child's behavior. After all, if a poor diet caused poor behavior, I knew that a healthful diet must support healthy, happy behavior. I recognized that I wasn't the only parent who had employed some common-sense strategies to improve my child's behavior problems, and that if I gathered these strategies along with solid medical and nutritional advice, parents could once again take charge of their children's behavior.

United in a Common Mission

One doctor who has proved invaluable to me and who shares my mission to help parents deal with food-induced rudeness is Brian Cabin, M.D., M.D.(H), a pediatrician, general practitioner, and board-certified homeopathic physician who practices in Tucson and has been dealing with the food-behavior connection in his work for years. He has visiting privileges in two of the most prestigious Tucson hospitals and has been a lecturer and member of Dr. Andrew Weil's integrative medicine department at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Dr. Cabin not only provided the scientific explanations for my observations, but said that he believes food-caused poor behavior affects huge numbers of children. Certain foods can indeed make kids feel—and act—bad, Dr. Cabin said, while other kinds of foods can make them feel positive, productive, and peace-loving. "You can change many kids' behavior with diet in about 5 days," Dr. Cabin stated unequivocally. "I think more people involved with child-rearing should realize this fact and use it."

Of course, Dr. Cabin is not the only medical authority who has seen this connection. There are many experts who believe that the way we eat can have a bearing on the way we feel and, thus, on the way we act, and I'll share some of their research with you as well. Further, though diet will affect the emotional health of some children more than others, all children will be affected to some extent.

As you read on, you'll discover:

  • How to tell if your child suffers from diet-related behavioral problems
  • The physiological conditions that can cause bad attitude and rudeness, how to find out if your child has them, and the nutritional solutions that can ease these symptoms
  • The surprising list of best and worst foods for your child's mood and attitude
  • "Consequence strategies" of child discipline, and ways to integrate nutritional solutions for optimal results
  • How to easily plan your child's menu—and great recipes that she'll love to eat!
  • Fun ways to celebrate special occasions without going overboard on sugary treats
  • Smart tactics that make it quick and easy for your child to choose the right kinds of foods, even when you're not around
  • A proven way to make lasting changes in your family's way of life to ensure a more peaceful and harmonious home

With Your Help, Results in 1 Week

At the core of all of my advice in this book is my belief that your children need your love, help, and support with their food choices. Believe me, children with food-induced rudeness feel as awful as they are making you feel with their antics. They are in real trouble and need you to intervene. Their actions and emotions are beyond their control, and they have no idea why.

By taking the practical advice in this book and applying it with love, you will be helping your kids not only act better, but feel better—physically and emotionally. And don't worry: Even if your children have spent years picking up bad food habits, a few simple changes in what they eat and how they eat it—along with some sound discipline strategies—can bring better attitude and behavior in as little as 1 week.

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