041: Ask Dr. Leman (Poopy Pants, Grandparents Overstepping or Not?)

Tired of the poopy pants potty battles? Dr. Leman gives you one rule to follow to solve the potty battle. Also, what is your role as a grandparent with a daughter and granddaughter living with you?

Questions

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Question #1:

My 4 year old son won’t stop pooping in his underwear. We have tried time outs, stickers, spankings, putting outside and even washing him off with a hose. Nothing works. What do I do?

Answer:

  • Who is becoming more responsible for your son’s poop? Your son or you?
  • The hard truth is that he isn’t potty trained, because of your actions.
  • As long as you remain involved, this will be a problem.
  • Once he fills his pants, he gets his pjs on and goes to bed. If it is early in the day, playtime is over. He comes inside and is done with fun for the day. No more playing.
  • He needs to learn self-discipline to do this himself. Your constant hovering and prodding is not teaching him self-discipline.
  • The rule is one pair of underpants for the whole day. Once soiled, the fun is over.
  • When he soils his underpants: Don’t console him, Let him know you are displeased and ignore him for the rest of the day.

 

Question #2 As a Grandmother, am I overstepping or not?

My daughter and my two year old granddaughter live with me. We are both parenting her how do I know what role to take in all this what boundaries do I need to put on my part of the patenting.
My granddaughter loves to get into everything and we are not sure how to discipline her at this age. HELP!!!!!
Joanna

Answer

  • Who is the mother? Mom or Grandma. Probably Grandma is the actual Mom.
  • Ask yourself, why is my daughter living with me again? Realize if this is a short term situation or a long term issue. If this is a temporary situation, until mom gets over this hump, fine help her out. If this looks like a long-term situation, then the goal needs be what can be done to get mom and daughter out on their own.
  • Don’t take over as the older person. Your role is to be Grandma. Mom is supposed to be mom.
  • If you run in and take over, this will end badly for your relationship with your daughter.
  • Your goal is to help your daughter get back on her own in her own accommodations. Talk with your daughter about that being the goal and how is she going to get there. Help her work towards being responsible for her future.
  • Encourage your daughter to read the book, “Single Parenting that Works.”

Announcement

The next session is on 3 No Brainer Ideas to Make Your Child a Successful Student. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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Podcast by: Dr. Kevin Leman with Doug & Andrea Terpening Post by: Doug Terpening

040: 3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Get Your Spouse on the Same Parenting Page

“You did what!? I just sent them to their room without dinner and instead you took them out to McDonald's? Are you crazy?! Or do you hate me?” Have you ever had a conversation like this with your spouse about their parenting. You are not alone. This is one of the most common questions we get about parenting. Dr. Kevin Leman gives astonishing insights on how to get on the same page as your spouse.

Sad little boy hearing his parents arguing in a kitchen

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Andrea and I grew up in homes that had very different views on eating. Andrea’s family had a value f healthy living. My (Doug’s) family came from a carefree and celebratory view of eating, especially when it came to candy and other sweets. When we got married, we did not agree at all on this issue. Eventually, we found some resolution, but not completely. We still can get into minor skirmishes about it. Andrea has agreed to lovingly come closer to my views. I, on the other hand, need to stop pushing for his way all the time.

Candy and sweets are not a major issue of parenting. Yet, parenting differences play out in fights in many families.

This episode is devoted to giving you action steps for getting on the same parenting page.

Step 1: Recognize why you don’t agree.

When we say that our spouse is undermining our efforts to parent our kids correctly, we are really saying that we have not submitted to each other. We aren’t going to give in to the other person.

It is like saying, “I am right and you are wrong.”  Here is the key: You must realize that you may be wrong. Or. . . you might be making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Competitive parenting never works, because someone is winning and someone is losing. Competitive parenting leads to a competitive marriage–which often ends badly.

One reason you may not be on the same parenting page is because you refuse to agree with them. Try opening yourself up to listen and consider the possibility that you may not be right.

Step 2: Get on their page.

Once you open yourself up to listen to them, try getting on their parenting page. In fact, get on their parenting page EVEN if it is the wrong page.

By getting on the same page, you do three things. One, your child no longer can run wild between your differences. Secondly, you will stop fighting with each other and start looking at the behavior of the child. Lastly, your spouse can no longer blame you for parenting incorrectly. Their parenting style is now on full display.

You may need to will yourself to their page. You will likely need to bite your tongue.

Remember, if their parenting style is abusive or they have destructive behaviors like alcoholism, then don’t jump over there. Be reasonable, and of course, keep your kids safe.

Step 3: How to talk about parenting issues

Now that you are on the same page with your spouse, when a behavior problem arises, ask your spouse for their input on how to solve it. Use the words like “maybe” and “we”.

If your spouse grounds your son, Bob, and doesn’t realize the effect on you, try asking them this, “Dear, thanks for engaging Bob. Do you think MAYBE we could talk about grounding him before you ground him? This way we could explore options together and consider the ramifications.”

Now that you are using their play book, when your kid behaves really badly, feel free to walk away and let them deal with the consequences. Go to the bathroom or leave for a short walk. By letting them deal with it, they will likely realize this isn’t working.

When it gets bad enough, ask if maybe the two of you together could explore different options. Ask them to find the solution. If they don’t have time to research other options, ask them if it would be okay if you did some research and brought a summary of what you found.

Build the plan together. It won’t happen overnight, but being on different pages is destructive on many levels. Work to get on the same page.

Action Steps to get on the same page:
Be open to their different opinions
Get on their page, even if it is the wrong page.
Wait and be silent as you parent on their page.
When things get bad enough, ask if there is a different option to explore together.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Get on their page, even if it is the wrong page.
&
Parenting is not a competitive sport.

Announcement

The next session is on Ask Dr. Leman. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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Podcast by: Dr. Kevin Leman with Doug & Andrea Terpening Post by: Doug Terpening

039: Ask Dr. Leman (Fists Everywhere; Ritalin: Yes or No)

What is a parent to do when their kid hits his parents, then their cousins, then their schoolmates, then their teacher, then their aunt and anyone else that walks the face of the earth?

Questions

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Items from the podcast

Question #1:

[Audio] My 3 year old boy is hitting a lot. He hits his teacher, his friends, his family, anyone. It has become enough of a problem that my immediate family is staying away. They are telling me I need to deal with my son's hitting.  Do I? Is this normal behavior for a 3 year old?

Answer:

  • This is not normal behavior for a 3 year old.
  • He is hitting, because he is getting the attention he desires. So he keeps hitting, as long as he keeps getting attention.
  • It makes no sense to spank a hitter, it reinforces the concept that the bigger person gets to hit others.
  • Put the kid in the room and hold the door closed, until he calms down. Once he is calm, I’d be cold told him and distance toward him. I’d tell him that I was displeased with his behavior. When he asks for something, I wouldn’t give it to him.
  • When he tries to hit you, give him a bear hug , so he can’t. If he goes to kicking, hold in a way that doesn’t harm you or him. Take him to his room and say, “I am displeased with your behavior.”
  • By age 3, 60% of your personality is set. So, this needs to be addressed now.
  • If you are the parent that feels the need to comfort you kid after telling him no, wait to cuddle him until he shows remorse. Once he shows remorse, comfort and give him loving attention.
  • If you simply give your child cuddles and attention after they say, “Sorry”, then they will look to use the word sorry to get a “get out of jail free” card without meaning it or changing their behavior.

Steps to take after your child hits someone:

  1. Pick them up and take them to their room.
  2. Tell them you are displeased with them hitting others.
  3. Hold the door closed until they calm down.
  4. Once they calm down, open the door and walk away. Say nothing.
  5. Don’t engage or do for your child, until they show true remorse for their actions. You are looking for a tender heart that is genuinely sorry, not just the words.
  6. Once they are truly sorry, then you want to give them positive attention.
  7. If you give in, when they simply say, “Sorry”, then you aren’t really helping them develop the skills to be remorseful or change their behavior.

Question #2:

I have a 6yr old son who has never been watched outside of family.  He is our only child (at this time) & has always been a very polite, intelligent joy for all of us.  He started (public school) Kindergarten this past fall, and struggled with his behavior there.   I would receive letters & calls home about how he is shouting out, being disruptive, and refuses to stay on task.  This happened weekly & now daily (even from the principle).  My husband & I both work full time & come home to our child who doesn't seem to have any concerns for what he did in school.  He does not behave this way anywhere else.  We've even enrolled him in some of the free programs for children his age & his behavior is good there.  We are very stressed from it & getting pushed from some family (who have put their kids on ritalin) to turn to drugs.   Is there something we can do to help his school behavior improve & help him succeed without the influence of chemicals?

Thank you!

Rochell

Answer:

  • There should be consistency in behavior between all classes and other programs.
  • This is possibly a maturity issue, showing that he is too young.
  • Where there are 2 parents working, it is easy to say, “Let's just put this kid into school.” Beware of starting that too young, even though your energy level is low.
  • If he is acting out, there might be a learning disability. Get him evaluated by a professional.
  • If you are getting a daily call from the school, it shows that the school likely has issues as well and they need to do more to discipline.

Announcement

The next session is on How to I Get My Spouse on My Parenting Page. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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Podcast by Dr. Kevin Leman, Doug & Andrea Terpening; Post by Doug Terpening

038: Freak Out! My Baby is in Love. What Now?

A huge red kiss was on our son's card. What?  Oh no. A girl is sweet on our son, James? I’m not prepared for my son to be dating. He was just a baby the other day and now he has girls leaving kisses on his stuff?! Dr. Leman, please help me prepare for the hanging out/dating years.

 

Teenagers in love

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When I, Doug, was a dating teenage boy,  I was completely selfish and dating girls was all about me being happy. I remember telling one girl, “If it isn't fun, why are we together?” Rarely did I care about how my words or actions hurt the girls I dated. When the girl stopped being fun, the relationship stopped with no regard about her or her feelings. Yes, I was a jerk.

Now as a father, I know what boys are like.  Eventually they are going to want to date my daughters. Oh No! Hopefully, they only date people like their mother.

The question we explore with Dr. Leman is, “How do I prepare my kids for healthy dating, or hanging out?”

Is it Dating or Hanging out?

Traditional dating is when a boy calls the girl and asks her out for a date. He drives to her house, possibly talks to the date's parents. They go somewhere intentionally like a movie, restaurant or a hike. He drives her home.

Hanging out means the guy and girl met somewhere, like the mall. They might walk around the mall. They might go out to eat. It is more casual and spontaneous.

When is my child old enough to date/hang out

Dr. Leman does not encourage dating/hanging out prematurely, but he does encourage parents to dialogue with their kids when they start to show an interest in the opposite sex. The age of your child should not be the measure, instead, maturity of your child has a lot more to do with when they should date/hang out. Tell them when they show enough maturity to handle it, then they can date.

 

What do I do when they do show an interest in dating?

If your child is showing an interest in someone, be gracious and ask about them. Use phrases like, “I hear you talking about Michelle a lot. She must be an impressive girl for you to talk this much about her. Tell me more about Michelle.”

Encourage them to be in your home. Offer to buy pizza and a movie for Michelle and the gang to come over. Work hard to make your home a center of fun, so your kids will bring their girlfriends and boyfriends to the house. If you are going on a family outing to dinner, ask your son if Michelle would like to come with the family.

Talk to your child about your dating years. Talk about your Puppy Love and the Crushes you had. Share how you went through phases and strange ideas as your matured. Mention that they may go through a similar process.

 

What if my kid isn't ready to date?

Remind them that “B doesn’t happen till A”. In this case, B is dating and A is their level of maturity. Lovingly show them how they aren’t ready yet to date if they are not showing enough maturity yet.

Tips when dating

Courtesy will never go out of style.  Encourage your kids to show respect. One way to show respect is to have your kid talk with the other parents before they start dating.

As a young man, go into your date’s home, introduce yourself to the parents and tell them where you are going. It is proper. Additionally, it will help you in the long run with their parents.

Action Steps for Parents

  1. Start early talking about dating, the good and the bad.
  2. Notice when they talk about the opposite sex.
  3. Maturity decides when they date, not age.
  4. You model to your kids what a healthy relationship looks like. They will mimic your relationship.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Maturity, Not Age

Announcement

The next session is on Ask Dr Leman. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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Podcast by: Dr. Kevin Leman with Doug & Andrea Terpening    Post by: Doug Terpening

037: Ask Dr. Leman (Stubborn Teen; Foul Language)

Ever had a stubborn teen that refused to go to school? Has your teenager not only talked back to you, but used foul language as she yelled at you? Dr. Kevin Leman answers these questions and goes deeper in this episode.

Questions

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Question #1: Stubborn Teen

My son is an ipod addict. He either forgets or refuses to do pretty much anything while he is using it. He also becomes irritable and rude. I took away the ipod charger for being rude.

To “punish” me he refused to go to school and is still refusing to go. He says he won’t go until he has his charger. I hate for him to miss school but I think it is wrong to give in and give it back to him. Both me and my husband are very stressed about the whole situation. What should we do?

Elena

Answer #1

  • The next time he says he won’t go to school, walk away from him and call the school. Let the school know your son won’t be attending school today, because he has decided to skip.
  • Have the school call him.
  • When the school calls, let your son, not you, talk to the school administrator.
  • Let the school tell him to come to school.
  • Don’t engage him when he gets angry. Remain the calm adult.
  • You have to learn to rewire how you interact with your kid.

Question #2: Foul Language

My almost 15 year-old daughter will scream and yell ugly/foul language at me when she's out of control…. How do I not power struggle with that and what should the consequence be?

I'm worried about the example she's setting for the other sisters.

Thanks,
Kristy

Answer #2

  • You don’t tolerate her blowing up on you.
  • There needs to be consequences for her behavior, without making things worse.
  • Use “B Doesn’t Happen Before A”.
  • This will continue into adulthood if it isn’t addressed now.
  • Give her the “bread and water treatment,” which means: there is food in the frig; serve yourself. Also, don’t wash her clothes or make her lunch. Let her know you are her mother (not maid) and you aren’t to be talked down to.
  • Realize that you have allowed this to happen before. Don’t excuse it now. Excuses make the weak weaker.
  • She needs to learn to appreciate you and all you do for her.
  • The words you use will alter the course of your child’s life.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Don’t make excuses. Excuses make the weak weaker.

Announcement

The next session is on Dating. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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036: Are You Prepared to Help Your Kids by Doing Less?

“Moooomm where's my shoes?” “Moooommmm, I can't do this homework. It is toooo hard. Help me.” “Daaadd, feeding the dog is too much work. I'm tired.” If you are like most parents, you hear this not just daily, but minute by minute. Why? Dr. Kevin Leman shares how we do too much for our kids and why is it bad for them.

A tired mother and her daughter doing homework inside

 

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We Do Too Much for Our Kids

The sun was shining beautifully on a July afternoon here in Oregon. Andrea looked forward to catching up with a friend, who was dropping by. Just as the conversation would get started between Andrea and her friend, a child would come over to get their shoe tied. As they resettled to visit, another child would  need a glass of water. Over and over a child needed something, until there was no time left to visit.

Why does this happen? Because we, parents, do and think too much for our kids.

It is time to push back and let them do it for themselves. I am always amazed what happens when I tell my kids, “Figure it out for yourself.” After the whining has stopped, they usually figure it out in seconds. Oh, to remember and let them figure it out.

Happiness doesn't make good parenting

We, as parents, are trying to keep our kids happy. Happy. Happy. Happy. You can see it in the video games and TV watching we use to keep them entertained.

Yet, instead of keeping them entertained, we are making them self-centered. And self-centered kids are not a good thing.

Mom, Respect yourself

Moms need to respect themselves by training their children at a young age. When you correct them at a young age, you are teaching them to respect you.

Remember you represent all of womanhood and what women are to your daughters and son. How do you want them to treat their future wives or be treated by their future husbands?

Thinking equal Responsibility

You as a parent have a responsibility to let your kids do more thinking for themselves.

When they ask where their shoes are. Say nothing. Complete silence. Stop answering. Say, “I don’t know.”

Don’t solve all your kid’s problems. Let them struggle a bit and learn how to solve their own problems.

Say, “I see that’s a huge problem. What are you going to do about it?”

They say, “I don’t know what to do.”

You say, “I bet you can figure it out for yourself.”

How best to unwind your child’s expectation of you doing for them?

  • Actions, not words
  • Don't get sucked into their trap
  • Keep the tennis ball on their side of the court

Action Steps

  • Apply Vitamin N liberally.
  • Say, “I bet you can figure this out.”
  • Don’t take over. Let it be your kids' responsibility or problem.
  • Be silent. Don't say anything.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

I bet you can figure it out.

Announcement

The next session is on Ask Dr. Leman. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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035: Ask Dr. Leman (What is too rough?; The Silent Treatment)

Worried that your kids play too rough? How do you deal with the silent treatment from your kids? Dr. Kevin Leman answers these questions and more in this episode.

Questions

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Items from the podcast

Question #1: [Audio] Other mothers are telling me that my kids are too rough. When do I know if it is too rough?

Answer #1:

  • If there is ever blood, it is too rough.
  • When you sense something inside you that doesn’t seem right, then listen to it and act on it.
  • There is a fine line to know when it is simply kids playing like otter, and when it has gone too far.
  • When it seems too rough, pick up your 4 year old son and look him in the eye. Say, “This is too rough and your sister is to be respected.” This will begin teach him to respect women.

Action Steps:

  1. Remove your son from the scene.
  2. Look him in the eye.
  3. Tell him this is too much and he needs to learn how to play with his sister.

 

Question #2: Powerful teen

I followed your advice not to allow B until A is complete by refusing to lift my 17 year old daughter to and from a party with her friends after she was rude to me. Rudeness is a persistent problem which arises whenever things don't work out perfectly for my daughter. She now refuses to speak to me and has given me the cold treatment for two days. I'm not sure how to respond as I feel she is manipulating me by making me feel guilty. She is under stress as she is in her final year of high school and is one of those firstborn perfectionist achievers. I want to restore our relationship but do not want to backtrack on my attempt to apply a consequence for behavior that is destructive and disrespectful. Must I treat this silence as a further act of defiance and decline to help her until she has a change of heart. Or should ignore it and continue as usual? my daughter is very stubborn and powerful and she has 3 younger siblings.

Rosy

Answer #2

  • Your daughter is being immature, rude and manipulative with her silent treatment.
  • You have to wait out this silent treatment.
  • If you show any guilt on your face, you are encouraging her manipulation.
  • As the mother, keep a happy face at all times.

Steps to follow:

  1. In the morning, say, “Hi”. If no reply, say, “Oh, I see we aren’t talking today.”
  2. Ignore her completely and don't do the normal routine of helping her get out the door.
  3. When she needs anything, don’t give in, but walk away.
  4. Say, “Our relationship is poor right now. A few minutes ago, we weren't even talking. Now, you need something.”
  5. Follow this with, “This isn’t how life works, so we need to have a relationship first to be able to work together. You are a smart kid; decide for yourself.”
  6. Remind her that without a relationship based on mutual respect and love, we have nothing.
  7. Based on this, we aren't giving you these things until the relationship is fixed.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Without a relationship, we have nothing.

Announcement

The next session is on We Do and Think Too Much for our Kids. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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034: Perfection is Slow Suicide. Do You Know How to Stop It?

Did you know that many perfectionists organize by piles? They don’t finish projects. They wrongly believe that someday they will be perfect, so they don't even start. Perfectionist parents do real harm to their kids. Are you one?

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Andrea’s Story

Andrea grew up in a home that was focused on quality and carefulness. This led  her to being a perfectionist. Andrea didn’t know she was perfectionist, because she believed her piles and unfinished projects meantotherwise. Yet, those are the telltale signs. Andrea didn't finish her projects, because she was avoiding criticism about her completed project.

High is Good. Perfect is Bad.

We want to have high expectations for our kids, not a perfection standard. Perfection leaves you or your kids feeling bad. Avoid using evaluation and criticism when talking with your kids.

How to Spot Your Perfectionist Tendency

A perfectionist grew up under parents with a critical eye. They often delay finishing projects because they want to avoid being criticized. If someone does criticize them, they overreact to their comments. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they become dissatisfied. Perfectionists often use piles for their organizational system, therefore avoiding finishing and being criticized.

Use Encouragement

Your kids need your encouragement, not reward or praise. To use encouragement with your kids try saying, “It must make you feel good to do _____________.”

Perfectionist Lie

The perfectionist lie is that someday I will be good enough. You will work yourself to death trying to achieve an unrealistic goal. High goals are good. Unrealistic goals are destructive.

Don’t try to improve what your kids have already done. Accept what they have done as it is.

Your Words are Super Powerful

Beware of the words you use because they will greatly impact your relationship with your kids. You get to choose the words.

Action Steps to Overcome Your Perfectionist Parenting

  1. Realize your perfectionist tendencies. The closer one’s ideal self is to one's real self,  the happier that person will be. Set realistic goals.
  2. Don’t “should” on your child. Don’t compare them to others. Accept them as they are.
  3. Physically hug and kiss them a lot.
  4. Watch the critical tongue. When you mess up, say, “I misspoke and I am sorry.”
  5. Be fun and enjoy your kids.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Perfection is slow suicide.

Books Mentioned in the Podcast

BirthOrderBook

Why your best is good enough

 

Announcement

The next session is on Ask Dr. Leman. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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033: Ask Dr. Leman (YouTube troubles; Bedtime Battle)

A mother shares her concern over her 11 year olds YouTube problems. A dad wonders how to fix the bedtime battle with his child. Dr. Leman answers both of these questions in this episode of Ask Dr. Leman

Questions

If you want your question answered, the best method is to leave us a voicemail question. You can use the SpeakPipe Voicemail system below.

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Question #1: [Audio] How should a parent deal with an 11 year old that is posting negative videos on YouTube?

Answer:

  • Why should an 11 year old even be posting on YouTube?
  • The daughter is playing the victim card.
  • No one is going to like this girl, if she keeps up the negative attitude.
  • Social Media is the Goliath of our time.
  • It will take a wise sales job by the parents to change her.
  • Better to have a blow up now versus later. Be proactive now and deal with YouTube and the negative attitude.

 

Question #2: [Audio] How do you deal with getting your kid to bed, when everytime you mention bedtime the child freaks out and runs away?

Answer:

  • Instead of giving your child a warning, pick up the child and do the bedtime routine. Be as brief as possible.
  • Put your child in their bed.
  • Turn the night light on.
  • Close the door.
  • Hold the door closed.
  • Don't make any noises or sounds, as you hold the door closed.
  • If the door being closed is a new experience, he will scream and yell for 30 plus minutes.
  • Once he calms down, open the door and slowly put him back into bed.
  • Don't cut a deal with him, either while he is yelling or when he is calmed down.
  • Make him stay in bed.
  • The first night is the worst. It should only take 2 nights.
  • If he runs away when you start the bedtime process, stay put and wait for him to come back. When he comes back, pick him up and put him into bed.

Announcement

The next session is on Perfectionism: Good, Bad or Destroying Your Child. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

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032: Here is a Quick Way to Understand Your Child’s Behavior

Do you ever wonder why one child acts silly, while another must finish their project? Dr. Leman gives you a simple method to determine what drives your child.

LISTEN HERE
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It was 8:00 p.m. and we nearly had a family riot. We had another 2 loads to move. I had said we’d only work until 8:00 pm. One child, said “You said we’d only work til 8:00 and it is 8:00.” Another said, “We were going to play a family game tonight and it will be too late if we do another trip.” This all started because the oldest demanded, “We are so close and must finish!” The last child was over on the grass making daisy necklaces and was fine with whatever. Luckily, no one threw a punch or shoved each other. There were a few tears.

How did we get such different children with such different perspectives?

If you have more than one child, then you know that each child acts differently, gets bothered by different things, and works on different types of projects. What drives these differences?

Their Life Theme drives their actions
All humans have a life theme. Our life theme is how we determine if we matter to the world, and to those around us.

You can identify your child’s life theme by filling in this phrase: “I only count in life when I ______________.”

How would your child finish the phrase, “I only count in life when I ______________”? Is it attention, finishing a project, getting all A's, winning in football, creating art that people adore, dominating others, serving others, helping others, getting their way, or winning at video games, etc.?

Another way to find your child’s life theme is to imagine a social situation for your child, then predict what they will do.

For example, do they try to get the other kids to make beautiful art? Do they dominate the others til they are in charge of what the group is doing? Do they clown around until others pay attention to them?

Be honest. There are good and bad sides to many life themes. What is important is that you know what your child’s life theme is, so you can address it.

Key Insight

Your child’s personality forms by age 5. Let me say it again. By age 5, your child has developed his personality and life theme!

Your kid learns through trial and error to determine who they are. Be aware of what you are encouraging and discouraging during their trial and errors. As the parent, you have the ability to help develop the healthy aspects, and discourage the unhealthy.

If you ignore your kids, they will use negative means to get your attention, which reinforces the negative sides of their life theme. For example, one of our kids uses pouting to get Andrea to drop whatever she is doing and give her attention. The child has learned that Andrea has a soft spot for pouting and she exploits it.

How to help develop a positive life theme

  1. Figure out what their life theme is by noticing how they finish the phrase, “I only count in life when I ____________.”
  2. Use psychologic disclosure: Reveal to them what their life theme looks like and how their actions from it are positive or destructive.
  3. Tell them you are concerned about where they are going with this life theme.
  4. Have them take the next 30 minutes to think about it. Say, “I can’t make you think about it, but I am asking you to think about it for your sake.”
  5. After 30 minutes, ask them where they are think their life theme is leading them.

What type of adult will they be?

Also, consider what will this life theme look like as an adult. It might be cute or tolerable as a child, but likely to be destructive in a marriage or as an employee. Now is the time to address it.

Gratitude = Good Things

If you want to make sure your child develops the good side of their life theme, then teach them to serve others and develop a spirit of gratitude.

Notice the Good

When you see them do something positive, pull them aside and say, “I noticed you did XYZ. I bet that makes you feel good inside.” Use encouragement to reinforce positive behavior.

Action Steps:

  1. Figure out your child’s life theme, by answering this phrase, “I only count in life when I _________________.” Also notice how they interact in social settings.
  2. Realize that by age 5, their life them is set. Be proactive now.
  3. Use the 5 steps listed above to help develop good life theme attributes.
  4. Teach them gratitude, so their life theme pulls to the good side.
  5. Notice when they do something positive. Use encouragement.

 

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

I only count in life when I ___________________.

Announcement

NEW Dr. Leman training-“What Every Parent Ought to Know about Talking with their Teenager.”

Bad conversations with your teenager will destroy your relationship with them. You can learn how to have great conversations.

The concepts are easy to understand and once you get the first positive results you will be hooked to Dr. Leman's teaching.

Dr. Leman shares his tried-and-true method to having great conversations with your kids.

For more info, Click HERE.

 

The next session is on Ask Dr. Leman. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast.

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Your Feedback

If you have an idea for a podcast or a question about an upcoming episode, e-mail me. If you enjoyed the show, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review. That would help tremendously in getting the word out! Thanks.