Words matter in life, and it’s important to choose them carefully. In today’s episode, Dr. Leman gives his all-time best pocket answers for when your kid is hurting. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
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Doug: Well, hi. I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today to add to your parenting toolbox and how to love those kids. If this happens to be your first time, we just want to let you know 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.
Dr. Leman, I don’t think we’ve said this in a while, but I ran into a friend of a friend, you know, one of those random events. And when they found out that we were part of the podcast, they said, “A friend of mine posted on Facebook about the podcast, and that’s how I found it. And I gotta tell you, it’s helping me out.”
What would you say to anybody who has listened to this, that’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram about the podcast?
Dr. Leman: Hm. Cool.
Doug: So yeah. If you love it, you can pass it onto others. It does bless them.
Dr. Leman: It does, yeah. You know, you should give us a quick update on your children. We have a lot of people who are new to us on the podcast, because people have passed it on to their friends. Give us a real quick thumbnail sketch of what’s going on with your kids.
Doug: So we have four kids. 19, 17, 15 and 13. And we started working with Dr. Leman five years ago, now?
Andrea: Yeah, it’s been about five years. The voices that you hear at the opening of the podcast are our kids, and that was a while ago. Their voices have changed.
Doug: And we used to be, I used to be an angry, authoritarian parent. Andrea might have been a little bit more on the permissive side. And we tried to control our children. And we tried to manipulate the things that we wanted, and now we’ve learned to let go, and not react, and B doesn’t happen until A. And now, our 19 year old is about to go back to go serve in Costa Rica, and before he left, he wanted all the family to get together, and he wants us to, because of our faith, pray for him before he goes. And he said, “My last couple days, I wanna spend as much time as I can with my siblings, ’cause I love them so much.”
And I attribute that to us figuring out how to parent much better than we ever have before.
Andrea: Yeah, they really do. They’re close.
Dr. Leman: That’s cool. So that’s James, right?
Andrea: That’s James, yeah. And Anna’s in her senior year, now, and she’s gonna take a psychology class this year. So that should be interesting. I kind of wanna walk along with her on that.
Dr. Leman: Psychologists are weird. Good luck, Anna.
Andrea: Thought maybe we’d just call you up, Dr. Leman.
Dr. Leman: So she’s a senior.
Andrea: She’s a senior. Johnathan is a sophomore, and doing debate again this year, and speech with his sisters. And super great.
Doug: And then Carly is studying speech this year, and next year she wants to do debate. And they all did 4H this year, and did remarkable. Anna shot a movie with a bunch … It’s just … Life is great.
Andrea: We just have a lot of fun with them. That’s the thing. We have fun together.
Dr. Leman: Good, good.
Doug: And I’ll just say this, not to … I mean, the reason we keep doing this is because we’ve seen it work in the Terpening household. Like I tell all my friends, we parent differently because of this, and it’s the best thing that could’ve happened to us. We’re not gonna lose our kids when they grow up, and I would have. ‘Cause I was too forceful with them.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Well, good. That’s a great intro. Thank you for that. Alright, so what are we doing?
Doug: So today, we wanna talk about the ultimate pocket answers when your kid is hurting. So you just wrote the book about how do we help our kids when they’re hurting, and yet, these pocket answers have helped us, and they’re helping others. So what are those ultimate pocket answers that help, that we can use when our kid is hurting?
Dr. Leman: Yeah, in fact, I was just on Fox news. I did three shows with them back in New York last week, and they were very good shows, if I may say so. People loved them, they said. And I help parents know what to do when your kid is hurting. Because the visceral reaction when your kid is hurting is to go and clean some kid’s clock who has hurt your kid, or said something nasty, or if your kid is bullied, and all those kind of things that can happen to kids.
And so one of the things that I shared with them is, listen without judgment. And that’s tough to do. And communication is such a huge part of getting into a kid’s world. But I was thinking about pocket answers, and you and I and Andrea have talked about pocket answers. We have podcasts on that. They’re very handy little things to have. But I thought about the need for pocket answers for kids, who are in the peer group, and I’m telling you, parents. When your son or daughter leaves for school in the morning, I’m telling you on good authority, they’re hoping, wishing, and sometimes praying that today is not the day that they’re gonna get singled out. That they’re gonna be picked on. That they’re gonna be laughed at, or ridiculed.
But the point is, that life is unfair. Kids can be very snarky and nasty. So this is, in my opinion, the all-time best pocket answer for your son or your daughter. They need to know this phrase. It needs to be as quick as a snap of the fingers, because you never know when you’re gonna use it. And I’d like you to pass it along to your kids, maybe at the dinner table. You can blame it on me if you want, I don’t care. But here it is.
Someone says something really nasty to your son or your daughter. What should they say? Here it is. I want you to memorize this. Wow. I didn’t realize you felt that badly about yourself.
Dr. Leman: That is the all-time best decompressor that you could use in the peer group. I shared that with our seventh graders at school the other day. I went to about six different classes and shared this with them. I wish you could’ve seen the looks on the kids faces. They conveyed, oh, that’s a good one.
Because, see, it puts that tyrant, bully-like kid in his place. And of course, when he’s cutting you down, he’s usually not cutting you down by yourself. There’s usually an audience. So the comeback is, wow, I didn’t realize you felt that badly about yourself. Now, you could tweak it. Wow, I didn’t realize you had such a low self concept. I didn’t realize you disliked yourself so much. Any of those things.
I was in a class and I said to one of the kids, I said, hey, I want you to say, “Dr. Leman, you’re fat.” And the kid says, “Oh, I couldn’t say that.” I said, come on, I want you to say that. Come on, saying. So finally, he mustered up custard to say, real softly, “Dr. Leman, you’re fat.” I said, no, no, you need to say it loud. I want everybody to hear it, come on. So finally, he says, “Dr. Leman, you’re fat.” I said, you’re ugly. We’re even.
And I said, now, that’s a comeback, but it’s not a great comeback. Because it tends to escalate the battle. And I want you guys to be able to say something to somebody that takes the venom right out of that balloon that’s about to burst all over you. And that’s how you do it.
So I think it’s the ultimate comeback that your kid needs in their little toolbox to face the peer group. Because they can be downright nasty.
Doug: And this won’t escalate it with the bully. He won’t like, oh, okay, buddy, now you’re calling me in, here we go?
Dr. Leman: I’m not gonna say it can’t, but the probability of it escalating diminishes. Because you’ve said … See, the guy who, this is what kids need to know. The kid who puts you down, the kid who cuts you down, the kid who makes fun of you doesn’t like himself. So he makes himself feel better by putting other people down.
Doug: And this allows your kid to stand up a little bit without inflaming it to a ten.
Dr. Leman: Right. You’re not throwing kerosene on the fire. Where if he says you’re fat, and you say you’re ugly, we’re even. There is some humor in that. There’s kids that could probably use that and get away with it. But I like that you’ve heard me say to parents, hey parents, remove your sails from the child’s wind.
So if you have a powerful child, don’t engage. If you have a powerful child, you’re gonna feel, not annoyed. That’s the attention getter. You’re gonna feel provoked. You’re gonna feel like you wanna rub that kid’s nose in it, so to speak. You can’t talk to me like that, I am your mother. And that escalates real quickly. So we’re trying to deescalate by telling the truth in a matter of fact way. Wow, I didn’t realize you felt that bad about yourself. That usually does it.
Doug: So the fear of the parents is, now they’re gonna become the object of this bully. But what you’re telling me is, if I stand up to the bully, he might go away. Is that right?
Dr. Leman: Yeah. And we used to say, stand up and fight the bully. Well, today, I got news for you. Some people carry knives and guns. So I’m not, I’m very redecent to suggest that. But words. The words you choose to use in your family with your wife, with your husband, with your kids matter. Words matter. And so if you can get your kid to have a pocket answer to it in their back pocket for situations, and a situation like, well, I’d love to go, but my parents won’t let me. There’s a pocket answer. You blame it on the parent. It saves you some face in the peer group. But it lets you smoothly converse something and walk away from an unpleasant topic.
So again, parents. You’re just equipping your kid for the unfairness and the meanness that exists out there in the peer group. That’s all I’m trying to do with that suggestion. But I think it’s a good one that you should talk about at the dinner table, and let’s see what your kids come up with. Maybe your kids can come up with some better ones.
Doug: And so what we’re trying to do with our kids is give them, in that moment, when your brain is flooded and you can barely think about anything, is to say, “Say this phrase so that you are gonna deescalate, and in a sense, stand up for yourself in a healthy way.” Right? That’s what we’re trying to do?
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Or a kid says, “You’re fat.” You say, oh, you know, I was just at my doctor last week, and he told me the same thing. And I said, doc, I need a second opinion. And he said, you’re ugly, too. It’s an old joke. But sometimes, humor diffuses a situation. And so sit around the dinner table some night, parents, and see what you can come up with that’s custom made for your family and your kid’s friends.
Doug: Well, the reason I like this one is that bullies and people in power that wanna use power over people, this is a great verbal way to say, no, we’re gonna level the playing field here, and not let you get away with it. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Andrea: Well, and isn’t it that they do have a low self esteem, and that’s why they are throwing these things out, is they’re trying to make themselves look better.
Dr. Leman: That’s exactly right.
Andrea: So maybe, deep inside, they’re like, ooh. Ooh, yeah. Actually, they’re right.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. You’re right, Andrea. That’s exactly right. So anyway, I hope that helps you guys. Like I say, have the dinner table conversation on this one. See if you can add to it.
Doug: Well, what I really like about it is, when they become adults, this isn’t the last time they’re gonna have to deal with someone like this. Right?
Doug: And they begin to develop the habit now.
Dr. Leman: No, we’re talking about emotional Raid here. Psst.
Doug: I like that.
Dr. Leman: It’s just letting the cockroach have it, you know?
Doug: Huh. If we could see someone try this at work with their big, mean boss. Well, I didn’t know you felt that badly about yourself.
Dr. Leman: Emotional Raid. Maybe I’ll do a book with that title someday. Emotional Raid.
Doug: Ooh, I like that. Emotional Raid for the bully.
Dr. Leman: Yeah.
Doug: Well, I love it, Dr. Leman. It would be a great conversation for our kids, and how great to free our kids from that horrible situation.
Andrea: And what’s some lively conversation around the table with your kids about something that’s real.
Doug: And honest. And when they say something, Dr. Leman, we’re just supposed to tell them what to think, right? We’re not supposed to listen at that point. Did I hear you correctly?
Dr. Leman: Exactly.
Doug: Okay. Well, thank you for that. I think it would be great to try it. We should ask our kids.
Well, thank you guys for being here, and we wanna keep helping you, equip you with your tools so that your kids can live that incredible life, and that you can just love on them more and more.
Andrea: Have a great day, and have fun brainstorming.
Doug: Yeah. Emotional Raid, baby. Emotional Raid.