When your kid comes to you with a problem, do you listen to them? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman explains 8 ways to help and impact your kids throughout their lives. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
**Now Available Wherever Books and eBooks are Sold**
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
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Doug: Well, good morning, or good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you’re listening to this podcast. We are so glad that you’re with us. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And if this is your first time here, we are so glad that you are here, and you get to be on this special day, the day the book is released.
But I want to let you know one thing beforehand, and that is that 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
Well, Dr. Leman, this podcast episode’s going out on September 4th, and it is the release of the book.
Dr. Leman: You know, the release … book. I know this is going to sound weird. It’s like having another baby because all the books are different. It’s just because you’re getting my indelible imprint on the book. What does that mean? It means a lot of the experiences that I’ve had in my life, okay? They’re teachable moments.
Again, not beating this horse to death, but I’m a guy that no one would’ve bet a nickel on was going to be successful in life. Everyone wrote me off, but who? But Mom and Dad. And they were the cornerstone, they were the foundation, so they believed in me anyway.
And so, you learn a few things. It’s like that Farmers Insurance commercial. “We know a lot because we’ve seen a few things.” Well, I’ve been around a long time, and it sort of makes me chuckle because when I get introduced at a speaking event, usually the word “wisdom” comes up. When I was young, they never said I had wisdom. Now, I got all kinds of wisdom. I think that’s because I’m near death. But anyway, I digress.
I’m excited about this book because, quite frankly, kids are hurting all over the country, and for all different kinds of reasons. And many kids are hurting because their parents have snowplowed the roads of life for them, done way too many things for the kids that the kids should be doing for themselves. And somebody’s thinking, “Wait a minute. Why would that lead to these kids being unhappy?”
When you stand in authority over your child, you’re making a real difference in his life. That’s what he wants you to do. He wants you to be a parent. He needs you to say no to things. The parent who just bending over, trying to make the kid happy at every turn is destined to rear a miserable kid, and, in all probability, they’re going to have a miserable home-life.
So, I came with eight ways to help your child.
Number one: when disaster strikes, don’t panic. The disaster is your 15-year-old daughter who had a mad crush on this 16-year-old, just found out the 16-year-old has his eye on another chick at school. That’s a disaster. And you say, “That’s a disaster? Doesn’t seem like a disaster to me.” Your 16, 15-year-old …
You know, you gotta listen to your kids, and that is step number two. Number one: we’re not going to overreact and panic. Number two: we’re going to listen. And you say, “Well, how long do we listen for?” A long time. Because a simple, “Tell me more about that,” or, “That’s fascinating.” “That’s interesting.” “Wow, I can’t believe that.” And without asking a question, make a statement just to be reflective of what the child says. Let ’em run with it. So, again, don’t panic. Listen, listen, listen. And again, the responding versus the reaction.
The reaction, in all probability, is going to elicit a judgment from you. You’re going to say things like most parents say. What? “Oh, honey. Don’t worry it. It’s not a big thing.” Well, it’s a big thing to your kid. That’s the disaster. Kids live in the here and now. Not getting enough likes on Facebook. Oh, my goodness. Could that be a disaster? Yeah. It could be in some kid’s life, but a kid needs a talking-to from you as a parent, and to share. “Honey, you know, I see you see that as really important. I just have to share with you my perspective on that.” And then, a statement like, “Do you really want to be like everybody else? Is that your goal in life?”
You might be surprised at that answer. Some kid might say, “Yeah, I want to be like that popular girl,” or that popular guy.” So, guidance is important, and one of the things you have to understand is the words you choose to use with your kids really make a difference.
And I’d like to ask you guys something. You’re the parents of four kids. Do you believe the words that you share with your kids make a difference in their lives?
Andrea: Absolutely. Yeah. I saw that last night. I had a couple kids who were hurting, and I was thinking a lot of the things that you’ve taught us, and realized at that moment, I could say the absolute wrong thing, or I could say or not say exactly what they needed. I even had one of my other kids pull me aside and say, “Mom. This is what she needs right now. Go … You have to say it very bluntly to her.”
Dr. Leman: You got a salesman in the family.
Dr. Leman: Well, you know, how many times have you heard me say, “Parenting is sort of an art form.” But, you know, as a mom, you become a real good listener. We’ve heard Doug’s admission. He was a little bit probably into control, saying it nicely, and he’s learned to back off.
And when you take the time to really think it through, be a diligent thinker, realize that there are certain words your kids need to hear from you. And sometimes it’s a physical act, sometimes it’s a hug, a kiss on the cheek. “Honey, I believe in you. I know that this has to hurt, but you know what? I want you to know that I’m in your corner, I’m cheering for you the whole way. I can’t do it for you. It’s something you have to do for yourself, but you think it over. You don’t have to do what I suggest. If you want a suggestion from me, I’d be more than happy to give you one. And you can modify it, you can accept it hook, line, and sinker, or you can reject it. This is your life. These are decisions you have to make.”
And I think part of the problem is that we’ve brought kids up today in La-la land. This goes back to just a basic permissiveness that invades our home every day, and we’re doing far too many things for kids, and we blow blue smoke their way, and we don’t hold them accountable enough.
So, let’s go through some of these eight ways again. Don’t Panic. Don’t react. Learn to respond. Listen, listen, listen. Don’t judge. Flaunt your imperfection. There’s a good one. How many of you as parents are afraid to tell your kids who you really are? I think when you go back into your adolescent years and pubescent years … We did a podcast recently when, Andrea, you shared, you know, getting stiffed by a little girlfriend in the 5th grade.
Dr. Leman: Had a residual effect that lasted how long? 20 years?
Dr. Leman: And so, again, keep in mind the words we say to kids.
My wife, who’s the smarter one of the Lemans, went and saw the documentary movie about Mr. Rogers. And when she left I said, “Have a great time.” My idea of a great movie is What About Bob? Three Amigos. That’s a high-level, very intellectual type of movie that I love. Now, she comes home from that movie. She says, “Honey, you will love that movie.” She knows me better than anybody on this Earth.
And so, I relented, and I went last night. I’m sitting there crying, watching this documentary about Mr. Rogers. But he makes the point that we tend to just blow off kids. We don’t take the time to drop to our knees, get eye-level, listen to them, encourage them, tell them they’re loved, tell them they’re special. We had a conversation on the way home last night there was some criticism of Mr. Rogers because he’s always telling kids they’re special. Well, kids are special. There’s no one like ’em in the world.
But I don’t think you blow blue smoke their way. I don’t think that helps at all. So, when a kid says he doesn’t like something he drew, or he made, or whatever, rather than say what most parents say, “Well, honey, that’s a great job you did,” which is a flat-out lie because it, quite frankly, is not very good. You’d be better just to say, “You know, honey? I can tell it’s not your best effort.” You’re telling your kid the truth. So, you tell them the truth, so there’s a little tough love in it, but it’s balanced with compassion. “Honey, give it another shot. I think you can do a little better job, but you’re the judge of it. You’re the one that has to hand that in, and your teacher is going to be the final judge on it.”
So, you put the ball in their court. You give them some vitamin E, which is encouragement. You don’t blue-smoke them. And I think that leads to a pretty well-balanced kid. So, you’re not going to judge ’em, you’re going to flaunt your imperfection, and you’re going to provide comfort. And you’ve heard me say many times, “Parent, you’re the psychological blankie for your son or your daughter.” And sometimes it’s that look, sometimes it’s that understanding, compassionate statement that you make, but you’re going to stay calm.
And the bottom line is: together, we’ll get through this, and I’m your best cheerleader, I’ll be in the bullpen when you need me. You give me the signal. I’m not going to go barging in there and solve your problems, but when you need some help, you knock on my psychological door, and I’ll open those doors to you. I think that makes a lot of sense.
Andrea: I really like that, where you say, “You signal me when … I’ll be here, but you signal me when you want help,” because then it really does put the ball back in their court. And you know that you’ve given them permission to call on you when they need that help, rather than me trying to guess, “Oh, they look like they’re stumbling along. I better jump in.”
Dr. Leman: Let’s turn to the teenager, and the teenager’s in a situation where they’re asked to do something they know is wrong, they know their parent will react to negatively. It’s called a conscience, okay? I think it’s great to tell kids, “Hey honey, you can use me as an excuse anytime you want.”
For example, that 16-year-old kid might say to that guy that’s asking her to do something that’s inappropriate, “Hey, listen. I’ve had this discussion with my parents. They’re not going to let me go. It’s my dad’s fault. It’s my mom’s feet fault.” I don’t mind that. I don’t mind being the scapegoat to allow my kid to navigate the rough waters of the teenage/adolescent years. You see what I’m saying?
So, even when we’re apart, we’re in our kids’ head if we listen, if we communicate, and if we have a relationship that’s built upon mutual respect. So, if you’ve got that, parent? Boy. You get five stars today, and the Terpenings, and the Leman boy are going to not worry about you.
Doug: Well, you know, your last point is pretty … We appreciated you shared that to us once before, and so I went and immediately told my kids, “Hey, listen. If you ever get in a spot, blame Dad because I could care less if 16-year-olds don’t like me,” you know? And they’ve used it probably three times, and the only thing I’ve asked them is, I said, “If you use me, just tell me, so that if somebody comes to me, I can say, ‘Yep, that’s what I said.'” And you’re right. It blessed them because they were able to say, “I cannot do this because my dad will be upset at me.” And I was like, “Yep, great.” So, it really works.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Well, again, you know, parents, listen to us. This isn’t rocket science. You can think your way to behavioral change. You can change. In helping your kid think things through, he or she can change their world.
And keep in mind that their world, although we talk about a global economy and all that, their world is really pretty small. It’s their peer group. It’s their school. It’s their church. It’s the neighborhood. It’s their home, siblings, and you guys. So, if you have a trusting relationship … and that is the foundation for all good healthy relationships, is trust. If they trust you, then when you slip them a “commercial announcement,” as I like to call it, an idea, a suggestion, they’re more willing to really listen to what you’re having to say. Is it a guarantee they’re going to buy it hook, line, and sinker? No, it’s not.
Doug: You know, this is one of the reasons I like this new book so much is that you talk about the out-there issues of life that we all are worried about, that we’re worried about the influences on our kids. And yet you help remind me, again, that it really is about in the home. What am I doing as a parent to help them out? And the book is so picking practical that … I mean, Andrea and I are living proofs of them.
The reason I say all that, and I’m bumbling here, I apologize, is that when you said that it’s about how we stay calm, we’re the psychological blankie, and not to react? That, as a controlling, angry person, that was the greatest thing that I’ve learned, is to me stay calm, and I don’t have to jump into everything for my kids’ sake for them to get better. And this book helps me figure out which ones I’m supposed to jump into, and which ones I’m not supposed to jump into, which is amazing.
So, Dr. Leman-
Dr. Leman: Well-
Doug: Yeah, go ahead.
Dr. Leman: Let me interrupt you for a second.
Think about how we talk to kids about, “Someday you’re going to do this.” “Someday you’re going to do that.” What about staying in the here and now, and just enjoying the moments, enjoying your 11-year-old’s clumsiness, or their forgetfulness, or whatever. I don’t know if I’m communicating that right, if you’re hearing what I’m saying, but I think, very innocently, we talk about what your kid’s going to do someday. ‘Someday you’re going to be this.” “Someday you’re going to be that.” Well, okay, that’s futuristic. Got it.
But what about right now? How much appreciation comes from a parent to a child when a kid’s 6 years old, 9 years old, 12 years old, 15 years of age? And see, what I’m looking for is just positive ways of relating to a kid that says, “I love you just the way you are.”
Andrea: Where you are right now.
Dr. Leman: Right now. Yeah. It’s a profound thought, I think.
Andrea: Well, I can relate to that because my kids are growing up way too fast. People always say that, right, when your kids are little? But I can see just the power of enjoying them for who they are, where they are right now because pretty soon, they’re going to be 19, and towering over me, and taking off for their job, and I’ll hardly see them, so those things … Like, I’m glad that you pointed out even just appreciating their clumsiness because those are just little things about them that you’re going to forget about later if you don’t appreciate it now.
Doug: Dr. Leman, I got a question for you real quick because I just think it’s so important that … The reason I think this book is so important is when your child is hurting are one of those rare times when you can really blow it as a parent, that they have been emotionally wounded or whatever reason. And I haven’t read many books like this that help prepare me for that moment with my kid, help me, as a parent, understand just how vital it is that when my child … like Andrea was hurt in the last episode she talked about … how vital is it for me, as a parent, to make sure I know in those crucial emotional moments to do the right thing?
Dr. Leman: Well, number one: if you remember this it’ll help, and I think it answers your question in part. If you listen, listen, listen … I said listen three times on purpose. If you really listen to your son, really listen to your daughter, it does a couple things: it gives you time to really take in the information your son or daughter is giving to you. It lets you digest it. It lets you organize it, so that when you come back with something … Again, you’re going to say something that’s going to be reflective and something that’s going to continue the conversation.
Again, you’re not going to fix it. We’re not talking about fixing it. We’re not coming up with an answer, but we’re talking about a response where the kid’s going to feel like, “I connected with my mom. I connected with my dad. I think they know how I’m feeling,” and so the words of compassion and understanding that you give to your kids says, “Okay, this conversation’s moving in the right direction.”
And the key, the breakthrough is when your son or daughter says, “Mom, what should I do?” “Dad, I don’t know what to do.” Now, most parents, at that juncture, jump in and give the suggestion of what to do, and they end up fixing it. Is it better … I’m just asking you the question. Is it better to say, “Wow. You know, if I had that answer in my back pocket, I would just hand it to you. What you shared with me today … Wow. That’s got to hurt. And I’ve learned in my years on this Earth that when you’re hurting, sometimes it takes time. So, I know you’re asking me the question, ‘What should I do?’ but I’d love your opinion about what you think you should do at this point. Let’s just continue this conversation. Let’s take it a step further. What do you think might be the right thing?”
So, what I’m doing is what? I’m putting the tennis ball right back in the kid’s court. I’ve listened to ’em. I’ve heard ’em out. I’ve acknowledged this is really a tough one, but it also says, “I’ve got confidence in you that you can handle it,” but again, “I’d like your opinion, what do you think we should do?”
So, the kid comes back with their opinion, and they might come up with something you wouldn’t have even thought about. Then, out comes some vitamin E, “Honey, that is a great thought. Wow. I’m going to work that one around in my head, I think, all afternoon. That’s great insight on your part.” Is that a healthy way of doing it? Are you journeying? Are you on a dual journey with your son or your daughter?
And how long do you hang on to that? Do you just talk for 30 minutes, and that’s the end of that conversation forever? Or do you follow it up with, “Honey, I just want you to know one thing.” This is the following day. “I was at work, and I had a busy day, but my head kept reflecting back on our conversation yesterday. So, I’m curious, anything changing?” And so, what? The dialogue continues.
So, it’s about a relationship. And just like a relationship between a husband and wife, it has to be free-flowing. Do you get mad at your husband, ladies, for leaving the toilet seat up? I hope you do. This is why you should always listen to our podcast because you’ll get information here you get no place else. I’m about to tell you something very important, and it’s very important to Mrs. Uppington, the woman I’ve lived with for a lot of years. I have never, ever, ever left the toilet seat up. Let that be your challenge, gentlemen. Hear that on other podcast. Such vital information [inaudible 00:20:15] know that Lemy, himself has-
Doug: We give you a gold star, Dr. Leman. Two gold stars for that. I’m telling you.
Dr. Leman: Even in public restrooms. It’s true.
Doug: That’s awesome.
Well, I would say that piece of advice is one of the best pieces of advice, to a controller like me, that you ever gave, and I know you don’t need my affirmation, but we have learned to apply that here. And this is, I know I sound like a broken record, but this is why I think this book is so, incredibly valuable, that in the heat of the moment, as a parent, I sometimes don’t know when I should just shut up and listen, and when I should speak up. And this book helps me understand, like, when I should, and when I shouldn’t, and when my kids are really asking for my input, and when it really is vital, and when it’s not vital. Like, it just-
Dr. Leman: You’ll never go wrong by listening. That ought to give somebody who’s listening today comfort. You’ll never do damage to your kid by listening. Ever. You’ll do damage to the kid by assuming you know everything and just telling ’em what to do.
Doug: Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Leman. This is so many good stuff.
Andrea, are you going to try to … eight-
Andrea: I was going to see if we could recap the eight ways to help, and … I don’t know. For somebody like me, who likes to take notes … Here we go.
So, when disaster strikes, don’t panic. Don’t overreact. Listen. Respond, don’t react. Don’t judge. Flaunt your imperfection. Tell them they are special. And provide comfort. And I only got seven.
Dr. Leman: Stay calm.
Andrea: Stay calm.
Doug: Stay calm. There it is. That’s a really good one.
Dr. Leman: And then, I think the bottom line is you communicate that, “Honey, this is a tough one, but we will get through this together.” In other words, you’re a helping hand, but you’re not dragging ’em through it; you’re walking side-by-side. You’re not in front of them. And if you do that, you’ve got a great relationship.
I mean, we’ve talked enough about your kids, and your relationship, and I’d say you guys got a great relationship with your kids. There’s one there that probably is a little bit more problematic than the other, and you know, I’ve got a daughter who, you know, … I scratch my head and wonder if she grew up in the same house. She went to California.
Doug: Oh, blame California. That’s what everybody else does. That’d be fine.
Well, and I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m just telling you, it’s the reason we’re doing these podcasts is because these books helped me. Light-bulbs moments came on, I began to see what I needed to change, and it gave me the confidence to do it.
So, go buy the book. When Your Kid is Hurting. You will not regret it. You’re not going to blow those moments. It’s available today at anywhere there are retailers. Anywhere that you buy books in the world, it is now available today at those locations, and you should get it. It’s When Your Kid is Hurting, and you don’t want to blow those moments at all.
Andrea: And if you want Dr. Leman to sign it, you can go to drleman.com, and order your book there, and he can sign it for you.
Doug: You will get a personalized autographed book.
Dr. Leman: Appreciate you.
And again, we appreciate our friends over at Ravel for helping us pull this podcast together, and being the backbone and support of this. And please, please, please for your kids’ sake, for your kids’ sake, please go get these books, and for yours, and just be able to love those kids more, and more, and more.
Well, the reason we do this is because that’s what we want: to add to your parenting toolbox, and for you to be able to love those kids. I hope you have a great day. Take care. Bye-bye.