Does your child always get the last word? Do you feel like you’ve failed to separate your marriage from your kids? Do you cry often? These are the signs you have a powerful child. In today’s episode, Dr. Leman provides insight on how to reclaim your home from your powerful child.

Learn more about Dr. Leman at


NEW: The Intimate Connection –Dr. Kevin Leman


**Special Offer Jul 16 – 22: Making Children Mind without Losing Yours ebook for $3.99 at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or wherever you get your ebooks**



Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing

Produced by Unmutable™


Doug Terpening: Okay. If you’ve been listening to this podcast more than two times, you know you have a powerful child. What you may not know is, what is the easiest way for me to spot that I have a powerful child. So we get to ask Dr. Leman today. Hey, Dr. Leman, what are the three signs that I might, or I do, or regretfully, I am that powerful child. Well, that’s what we get to ask Dr. Leman today.

Doug Terpening: Hi I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea T.: And I’m Andrea.

Doug Terpening: And we are super, fantabulously glad that you are here with us today. And if this happens to be your first time, welcome, and we want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Dr. Leman, there are more and more new people that are jumping into the podcast right in the middle, and we haven’t talked about this in a bazillion years, but this podcast is going out the middle of July, and the entire Leman kids, I still can’t believe this, as grown adults, will do what? They will all gather together and pay their own way to do what this summer?

Dr. Leman: We’ll be back in New York at our summer hideaway from life, and then several of the kids will be joining us, we’re going to do a trip over to Germany and then down to Spain. You know, for the sake of all you young mommies and daddies, it’s possible these kids are going to end up, and call you blessed, and they’re going to want to hang out with you because you’ve done a good job of parenting. And that’s one of the things we try to help you with, it’s just how to get you to be a good parent. And notice we’re not saying even great, or wonderful, or the best, or let’s just, if you’re a good parent, things are going to work out real well, trust me.

Doug Terpening: And the reason I just bring this up again is like, your kids also will gather every year, maybe not when you’re going to Europe, and hang out at the lake house just to be with each other, and bring all the grandkids. And I just think that’s the dream, right? That all my kids, with their kids in tow, would want to pay their own way to fly out, to hang out with mom and dad again for weeks in the summer. So, the reason I bring that up is, Dr. Leman is not just talking theory, he’s living it with his kids. So, alrighty. Well let’s jump into today’s topic. Dr. Leman what are three signs that I have a powerful child?

Dr. Leman: One of them will throw you for a loop, I’ll start with that one. You feel like you’ve failed as a parent. Then the second one I would add is, your child has to have the last word in every conversation, and then maybe a third might be, you cry a lot, sometimes silently, but you really are, you’re crying too much.

Andrea T.: These were not I was expecting at all.

Dr. Leman: Well no, because if you have a powerful child, he or she knows how to punch your buttons. The frustration. Let’s just take the case of the kid who refuses to get up in the morning for school, and you’ve called them four times, and you’ve threatened him, and you’ve done everything short of getting a court order to get the guy out of bed. Okay, let’s make him 14, that’s always a good age. And he finally flies out the front door, bare chested, with a shirt in his hand, running for the school bus. And wouldn’t you know it, he just made it by three seconds. And your shoulders slump, and you take a deep breath, and you ask yourself, “Birth control, I should’ve used birth control.” Or you have thoughts like, “Why? Why do I go through this every morning? What have I done Lord, to deserve this?”

Dr. Leman: It can take every form known to mankind, but this is what you have to understand is, you’ve created that kid that is so powerful, that you ran to the store and you bought Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, or Have a New Kid by Friday. My question is, did you read those books? Because in there is the secret to avoiding power struggles by holding a little 14 year old, or a little four year old accountable for the things they do in life, in a way that features your responding to kids rather than just reacting.

Dr. Leman: So yeah, those three will surprise you. They have to have the last word, which the kid is saying, “I’m the boss of you. I’m better than you. I am an authority over you and you will do what I ask you to do, and if you don’t do what I ask you to do, I’m going to create such a commotion that you’re going to wish you would have done what I commanded on the first opportunity.” And I mention crying a lot because this gets a parent down, because these parents who have these kids are really great people who are trying to do things right. The problem is, they’re doing too much decision making for the child, and many times, they are joined with a partner who doesn’t see life like they do, and that creates a whole other set of problems.

Andrea T.: So Dr. Leman, based on what you just said, if I feel like I’ve failed as a parent, if I have that powerful child I might actually have failed. What would you respond to that?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to call you a loser, but I’m just telling you that right at the very get go you tippy toed around the house. You had your home as silent as you could because baby was sleeping, that’s mistake number one, okay. I’m going way back to when you’re bringing them home from the hospital. When you brought them home from the hospital, 10 days to two weeks later, did you go out for an by yourself and leave the child home alone? In all probability you didn’t.

Dr. Leman: You took that little sucker with you, and they became the third part of the wheels, so to speak. That’s okay for a while, but it has its limits, and you have to be a couple, and you have to have separation. And that’s why after a few weeks you separate that child into their own little room, and yes, you have a monitor so you can check on him, I get it. I understand the concerns of young moms and dads, but did you really train the child up to be independent? Or did you attach that child to your hip at every turn?

Dr. Leman: So, when I say you got what you deserve parent, you did, because you failed to separate your marriage from your responsibilities as a mom or dad. Now that’s something you guys probably never heard before.

Doug Terpening: No. Well, how can a parent do that in this day and age when there’s so much pressure to take care of that little one in that, almost like, your very identity is tied up into how well I take care of Buford.

Dr. Leman: Well, you know, I’ve told the story when I brought our first born Holly home. I held her about two feet out from my chest with my arms outstretched, and my wife looked at me, and she said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Well, I’d go want to hurt her.” I was clueless. Babies like to be cuddled, they like to stick their little head under your neck there and snuggle up tight. And unfortunately, I had a great teacher, but I’m just telling you that these basic things that get us off track are easy to fall into it.

Dr. Leman: Before long, you’ve got to ask your question, “Excuse me, which one’s the organ grinder and which one is the monkey? Who’s training who here?” And here’s this little kid, you know, he’s sitting in his high chair, he is a fussy eater already at age 18 months, and all of a sudden dad gets a spoon and goes, “Vroom, vroom, vroom,” and moving the spoon all around. And the kid’s thinking, “Oh, wait a minute, here comes the air show. I love this air show. This is such amusement for me. This is great. This is better than Dora The Explorer. This is great entertainment.”

Dr. Leman: “If he only knew the look he had on his face when he makes that vroom sound, he would never do that. My goodness, this is pathetic. Okay, now watch this. I’m just going to, I’m going to open my mouth like I’m going to eat it, and then I’m going to close at the last second.This is my favorite part. And so here he comes. All right, here goes. Oh, I shut my mouth. Oh, look at his face. He thought he had me. He didn’t.” I’m telling you, you have to get behind a kid’s eyes, and see how they play us like violins.

Dr. Leman: Parents, that’s why I say you have to be warm and you have to be firm. You’re warm with your kids. You’re not being disdainful, you’re not going to be disrespectful. You’re not going to be angry, and screaming, and yelling, or hitting, or anything like that. But there’s some firm limits. What have I said about food? Let the reality of the situation become the teacher to the child.

Dr. Leman: So if you’ve got a powerful child who says, “Hey, I’m not eating that.” Fine, put them down from the high chair, let them go do what two year olds do, or three year olds do. In a little while you’re going to hear signs of, “Mommy, I want some food. I want food, I’m hungry.” “Yeah, I bet you are hungry. Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact you didn’t finish your breakfast this morning.” It’s pretty simple stuff, but I didn’t say it was easy, I just said it was simple.

Doug Terpening: So Dr. Leman, a quick story that may or may not apply, but we had a couple of youngish moms get together, I wasn’t there, and they all complained about how horrible all their children were, and how they were blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But there was one mom who actually has read your books, and applied it, and she’d said to us privately, she said, “You know what, I don’t have those problems with my kids. And I actually, at this age now,” they were sort of between nine and about four. “I really get to just enjoy my kids.”

Doug Terpening: And I tell that story because, is it true that most of the people out there, the narrative out there is that our children do run the house, and they just are kind of hellions, and are we a self fulfilling prophecy now in this?

Dr. Leman: They do run the house, to answer your question. But see, the smart parent who understands the word authority. Again, how many teachings have we done over the time, but you have to understand parents, there’s a difference in being an authority and being an authoritarian. It’s that wonderful midline between being a chump and being walked over by your kids. Those are your permissive parents who insist your child wins at everything, and the authoritarian parents who basically just say, “You’re going to do life the way I tell you to do it and when I tell you to do it.” But that parent, just like that one you described, she had firm limits, she had expectations in her family, and now she can enjoy these kids.

Dr. Leman: And again, late breaking news parents, if you’re driving by chance, just hold onto the wheel. Your kids actually want to please you. They want to please you, let them please you. Don’t do everything for them. Let them surprise you. Let them do things around the house that you didn’t expect, and share the joy when you see the completed act, with, “Wow! Honey, I appreciate your help so much.” You want to give your kid vitamin E, you want them to feel good about themself, that’s how you do it.

Doug Terpening: I have to stop us here for just a moment because I have to talk about the e-book promotion this week. Like, there’s just no way I can’t at this point. Because if you complain about your children, if you complain about, it’s the worst, this is what you should do. You should go get the e-book promotion from Revell, that is, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, for only $3.99, July 16th to July 22nd. Dr. Leman, can you tell us why the parent who has that powerful child, that’s relating to this, should go get Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours?

Dr. Leman: Well, it’s a wonderful resource. You know, this summer, talking about these July dates, the kids are going to be in the pool, and within 30 seconds of your kid getting in the pool, what two words are you going to hear parent? I want you all to think about that. Your kids are in the pool, what two words are you going to hear real quickly? “Watch me. Watch me.” Okay, we’ll watch them do their cannonball, or whatever they’re doing, and then look down on your phone. You’ve downloaded, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. And as you rest, enjoying the rays of the sun, and you’re there, one eye on the children, and one eye on Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, you’re going to get a plethora of resources, of ideas about how to deal with tattling, sibling rivalry, kids who don’t seem to be motivated, kids who lie, kids who misbehave, kids who hit you. I mean, you name it, it’s in that book.

Dr. Leman: I mean, you would have a hard time finding any kind of behavioral problem that you don’t face everyday parent, that’s not covered and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. So if you can download that sucker on that phone of yours, and you all live your life on the phone, let’s tell the truth here, for how much does it? $4.

Doug Terpening: Yep.

Dr. Leman: Oh my goodness.

Doug Terpening: That’s the bargain. I get nothing from you buying this book, but I’m just telling you for your sake do it, so that you’ll have the confidence to do the right thing, so that you can enjoy your children. I just can’t stress enough, it’ll give you the confidence, it’ll give you the clarity. Just go do it.

Dr. Leman: The other thing I would add about that book is, maybe you’ve read Have a New Kid by Friday, which is an excellent book, it’s a New York Times Best Seller as a matter of fact. But I always tell people, you’re a parent, start with the book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. It gives you the theoretical framework, okay, in a not so theory filled approach. My approach is to use humor, and to be very practical. You’re getting the theory, but you’re getting it in a very fun way, and you’ll close that book and say, “Ah, now I got it. I know the difference between authority, authoritarianism, and permissiveness.” If you got that locked down, wow, you’re on second base and ready to run toward home.

Doug Terpening: So, now we get to hear no nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: You know, I was staying at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, at a hotel right there, to make sure I didn’t miss my plane. Well, this is hard to admit, but I missed it, and I missed it by about 45 minutes. It was embarrassing because I got up early enough, and I decided to have a cup of coffee downstairs in the hotel and let my beautiful bride sleep a little longer, that was mistake number one. But the point is, I missed my plane, and it cost me $2,300 more to get back to the States.

Dr. Leman: Well, I want to talk to you about picky eaters. Now there’s a segway from Charles de Gaulle Airport to picky eaters. But you know, sometimes you miss the plane, sometimes you miss the train. With picky eaters, they can whine, they can throw temper tantrums, they can be just downright stubborn and miserable, because you put food in front of them and the dog and pony show starts.

Dr. Leman: “I don’t want that.” “I don’t like that.” “I don’t feel like eating that.” And mom or dad, if you haven’t read one of my books, you try to satisfy this little sucker. Let me tell you something straight out. Three things in life that get parents in trouble, sleeping, eating, and going potty. Those are three very natural things that every kid is going to do. They’re going to go to sleep. Can you make them go to sleep? No, but you can keep them in a room. And they’re going to go potty, and they’re going to eat. If a kid chooses not to eat, make no fanfare of it. “Honey, that’s fine. Why don’t you go ahead and get down from the table and play, whatever you want to do.” And they’ll come back. I guarantee you they’ll be back with “I’m hungry,” but a simple statement like, “Honey, I bet you are hungry. You didn’t eat your breakfast this morning,” will suffice.

Dr. Leman: Don’t pull out food for that child. Say, “Honey, the next scheduled meal here is at noon. I hope you’re here for it. I think it’s going to be pretty good, but you be the judge. Maybe you won’t like it. If that’s the case, you might take your chances on dinner. You never know, something good might show up around six o’clock.” In other words, hey, the train is leaving, you either eat or you don’t eat. You don’t make special meals for kids. Does that mean you can’t ask a child once in a while what they would like special for a meal? No, I’m not saying that, but you’re not going to be doing three or four different meals for three or four kids in the morning, trying to get them out to school in the morning. So food is food.

Dr. Leman: They’re either going to eat the food or they’re not, and when a kid says, “I don’t want that,” the best response is, “Honey, that’s fine. You don’t have to eat it. You don’t have to eat the thing. It’s your stomach. Maybe you’re not even hungry today,” and walk out of the room. They won’t know what hit them.

Dr. Leman: I know what some of you are thinking. “My son’s going to grab a banana and run out the door,” so be it, that’s not the end of the world, at least he’s got a banana in his gut. But I wouldn’t play these dog and pony shows and games that kids love to play with us. Okay, you’re responsible for what you put in your mouth mom and dad, let your kids be responsible for what they put in their mouth as well.

Doug Terpening: Okay, Dr. Leman, we got to give people hope here at the end of this. I have that powerful child.

Andrea T.: I cry a lot.

Doug Terpening: They’re always fighting. They always have the last word.

Andrea T.: And I like I’ve failed as a parent.

Doug Terpening: I have taken your advice and I’ve listened to you. How long is it going to take for this behavior and our relationship to change if I implement what you’ve said in Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours?

Dr. Leman: I’m going to go out and say, within 48 hours to 72 hours you will see a new kid on your hands. But what you have to do, and I underline the word have, you have to begin behaving differently. So if you’re in a situation, and you don’t know what to do, stop, do nothing. Think, “All right, this has happened a gazillion times,” to use your favorite word Doug, “In our home. What do I normally do? Okay, I got that down. Okay, and I want to know what I do.” And you can ask yourself, “How’s that working out for you?” “Not very well.” And so, what you’re going to say is, “Okay, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to keep the ball on his or her side of the court.” And it might be something just simple like, “Mom, where’s my shoes?” It’s amazing what moms are supposed to know. “Honey, they’re not on my feet.” I mean you can say anything, but stop doing the dog and pony show that you do with your kids on a daily basis.

Dr. Leman: They won’t know what hit them, and then develop the ability to say, “No. No, I don’t feel I doing that.” “No, we’re not going there.” And let them dig it out, let them work for it. “Mom, you always let us do this. You always let us do that.” “Well, mom doesn’t feel like letting you do anything today.” Because again, let them dig, let them really scour the Earth to figure out, “What’s going on with mom?”

Dr. Leman: And maybe it was just a smart mouth two hours earlier, that precipitated you copping an attitude, and maybe after three or four attempts to get to the bottom of this from their perspective, you say, “Well, you know, I don’t know if you’re aware of the conversation we had a couple hours ago, but I was just thinking about that, and mom is very unhappy.” Turn your back and walk away. If you do that, the kids won’t know what hit them. And they’re not going to feel good about themselves, and they knew they shouldn’t have said what they said, and they’re going to come around at that point and they’re going to apologize in one form or another.

Dr. Leman: Now, some won’t. Some are just so stubborn they’re going to wait you out and see if this is for real, but most will come around. Now, the important thing is, once they apologize, then they go right back to, “Well, mom, can we go to the mall now?” Or whatever. And the answer is still no, because that’s part of the discipline that must accompany the love you have for your child.

Andrea T.: It feels like, if I start to cop an attitude, like you said, how does it not become a snowball where they get even more of an attitude?

Dr. Leman: Well the attitude is a dull one, it’s not a vindictive one. It’s a flat emotional, “No, I don’t feel like doing this.” “No mom’s unhappy.” Just statements. You can be sullen even. But you’re not rubbing their nose in it. See, if you’ve got a powerful child, the instinct inside of you says, “What did you just say? I am your mother. Do you understand who you’re talking to young man?” It’s like you want to grab that little puppy from behind the neck and rub their nose in it, and anybody who trains dogs will tell you that’s not a good idea. But dog owners have done it for years, and it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work with kids either. It just makes the kid more powerful.

Doug Terpening: And for the other side of the fence, like the sweet, sweet moms like Andrea, I remember the first time she took your advice Dr. Leman, and told one of her kids, “I am disappointed in your behavior,” and turned and walked away. I think she walked into her room and cried for an hour because she felt so bad [crosstalk 00:21:10] that she had [crosstalk 00:21:11] done something.

Dr. Leman: Well, name three people nicer on this Earth than Andrea Terpening. I mean, she’s just one of those lovely, nice, sunshiny people that’s just fun to be around. And so, you put a lovely lady, put four kids around her, man, they can work her like a a violin.

Andrea T.: But it’s hard to be mean to them.

Doug Terpening: Listen to that. Okay.

Dr. Leman: But that’s where you go to Doug, and say, “Doug, am I being mean or am I being helpful?” And Doug’s going to say, “Actually, you’re doing the right thing and you’re being helpful.”

Andrea T.: Yes. And your kids [crosstalk 00:21:47] will thank you later.

Doug Terpening: Your kids will thank you.

Dr. Leman: They will.

Doug Terpening: Like she did this to our kid, and the kid later apologized to her. Right? So it works. It really… If you’re the sweet, sweet, sweet one like Andrea, or if you’re the mean one like me, it really does work. So-

Andrea T.: It’s okay, you’re not being mean.

Doug Terpening: You’re not being mean. So I am going to ask you a gazillion requests to go buy this book for yourself. You will think me a gazillion times. So can I say gazillion enough times now that Dr. [crosstalk 00:22:15]-

Andrea T.: I think you just want to say the words now.

Doug Terpening: I just want to say it now. So, please go-

Dr. Leman: $3.99 right?

Doug Terpening: $3.99.

Dr. Leman: You’re such a loser if you don’t go get that. That is such a bargain. Oh my goodness, $4?

Doug Terpening: $4, July 16th to July 22nd. For your sake, go get it please, please. Okay. Well this concludes our show, and as always, I can’t encourage you enough, if you’re listening to this, to pass this on to all of, your sister-in-law, and to your brother-in-law, and your brother, that you are worried about how they’re parenting, so that they’ll hear it and go buy the book themselves. Send it on Facebook, or however.

Doug Terpening: Okay. I think I’ve said this enough. All right, why don’t you to go buy the book. Alrighty. Well, we love being with you,, and we look forward to the next time we get to hang out with you, so that you can add to that parenting toolbox, so that you can enjoy and love those kids more.

Andrea T.: Have a great day.

Doug Terpening: Take care. Bye-bye.

Andrea T.: Bye.