It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “My hearing-impaired son won’t wear his hearing aids. How do I get him to wear them?” Dr. Leman gives his tips on how to teach your kids to do things for their own benefit, especially when they don’t want to. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
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Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Turpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are super duper quadruply happy that you are here with us today, and if this is your first time, welcome. Just 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.
Well today we have a great question about a boy who won’t keep his hearing aid in despite that he needs it, and Andrea, I have a confession. I think I should’ve wore hearing protections more often when I worked in the saw. I noticed my left ear is not …
Andrea: Oh no.
Doug: We shouldn’t talk about it now.
Doug: But we should jump into the question of the day. Here we go.
Jessica: Hi, Dr. Leman. I am a single mom of two boys. My 12 year old boy is hearing impaired, and has been since birth. He has hearing aids that have been around since he was six months old. It wasn’t a problem in his younger years to get him to wear them, but now for the past three years, he rarely will wear them. He even has the newest models with Bluetooth capability. They’re pretty fancy, and yet it’s still a chore to get him to wear them. His speech is declining again, and I tried nicely to prompt him to have better sounds, but he seems not to care. It is very important he wears his hearing aids for his education, so that he hears people correctly, etc. How can I get him to want to wear his hearing aids so that he can have the quality of life that the rest of us get to have? Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you guys.
Dr. Leman: Well, you’ll love my answer. You can’t. You can’t. I mean it’s back to one of my favorite titles ever is Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. Again, I’m the guy that wrote the book, but can you literally make a kid mind? No, so can you literally make a kid wear his hearing aids? No, you can’t. But you can set up situations where a kid figures out, “Um, I’m better off to wear them.” Now let me point out that this has gone on for three years. So he’s 12 now. So let’s go back to 11, to 10, to 9, where he became much more socially aware of other people and relationships, and probably a lot more self-conscious that he’s wearing hearing aids and other kids aren’t.
I love your reference to the Bluetooth. I’m the proud owner of hearing aids because I’m old, and I need the suckers. I remember saying I will never get a hearing aid. I’ll get a horn before I get a hearing aid, and I have to tell you, I’ve enjoyed them. I listen to my music. I have praise music on my phone, and when I walk in the morning, I just take my little phone on me, hit a button, and I’ve got the music in my ears. When the phone rings, I hear it in my ears.
So again, there’ll come a day when your son will really appreciate hearing aids, but here’s what I want to point out. This has been going on for three years, so whatever you’ve been doing, and I can make all kinds of guesses about what you’ve been doing. You’ve been reminding. You’ve been coaxing. You’ve been bribing him in one form or another to wear his hearing aids, and I ask you, does it make any sense at all to continue down that path? Well, no, it doesn’t. So what are you suggesting then? I just throw the towel in? Yep. Jump early for [inaudible].
I would be in contact with school, and I would make school the bad guy here. I’d get you out of the bad guy role here. Let them be the bad people. He needs them. He has them with him. He just doesn’t wear them. Like I say, “Well what if it gets to the point where he doesn’t take them?” Well, then you may want to discipline him for not taking them. Can you make him wear them? No, but you can certainly make him take them, and there can be a consequence for not taking them to school, and you hit him where it hurts. Whatever things are important to him, those are the things you use to discipline him.
The biggest thing you can do is look at him and say, “I’m very disappointed in what you’ve done here.” That’s the biggest thing. And that’s good guilt that comes your son’s way. You’ve just gotta be mindful, whether it’s hearing aids or taking medication, kids have us over the barrel in certain situations. There’s certain kids that have to take medication, so it’s not a choice of saying, “Well, he’ll figure it out. Just don’t give him his meds.” No, he’s gotta have his meds, so he takes his meds. If they’re taken with a lot of drama and tears, I could care less. You’re taking them. You’re not going out the door until it’s down the throat and I see it.
So there’s that stance with medication, but with Allied Health things like hearing, and I realize that hearing’s important, and you said it’s affected now his speech and it’s obviously important for him in school. But since it’s so important in school, I would really strongly suggest you go down there and get teachers’ attention, principal’s attention, and say this has become a large problem. I need your help.
Doug: So Doctor, just one clarification. When you said hit him where it hurts, you don’t mean physically hitting him. What do you mean.
Dr. Leman: No, but whatever his thing is in life, the thing he really enjoys, whether it’s a video game or a you name it. That’s what you use to discipline him.
Doug: And that’s withdrawing-
Dr. Leman: Yeah and without fanfare. It’s just gone. It disappears. It’s not a big thing about if you don’t do this, I’m going to do that. No, just do it. The fewer words you use when you’re disciplining your kid, the better.
Doug: So he doesn’t take the hearing aids, and you walk over and the game console is gone when he comes home, hid somewhere in your closet, and when he screams and whines, what do I say?
Dr. Leman: You’ve lost that privilege because you’re not responsible enough to remember your hearing aids. When the responsibility returns, you’re life will take a turn for the better.
Andrea: Kind of goes back to the A before B.
Dr. Leman: It does. See, as I’ve said many times, Andrea, it is simple, but it’s not easy.
Andrea: Not easy.
Dr. Leman: But it is simple. And as long as you take the drama out of it, where you’re not getting into a power struggle, “Honey, it’s your education. It’s your ears. It’s your this. Do whatever you think you need to do. On the other hand, he shows up to school and he gets hammered by a stranger. He gets hauled in the principal’s office, he ain’t gonna like that. But let nature take its course.
Doug: But now if I’m the parent of this son, I am asking myself, “He doesn’t take his hearing aids. He doesn’t hear in class. He doesn’t get a good grade. He’s already got impaired behind the eight ball on this. This is just gonna snowball, and all the sudden, he’s going to be on the curb, homeless and everything because I couldn’t get him to wear his hearing aids. How do I get out of that cycle?
Dr. Leman: But he’ll be a good homeless person. No, I’m just kidding.
Doug: So bad.
Dr. Leman: Well, some days I can really be bad. That was bad. He’ll be a good homeless person. Listen, I want to go back to our caller. Hey for three years, what you’ve been doing isn’t working. So is it going to hurt to try something different? No, not at all. You’ve just gotta get out of it. You can’t hear for him.
It’s like the kid that never bathed. I’ll never forget this mom. I said, “Bathe him like he’s never been bathed before.” “He never cleans out his ears, Dr. Leman.” Clean his ears like they’ve never been cleaned before. Before long, he’ll say, “Ma, don’t touch me. I’ll get my ears. I got it. I got it.”
Doug: So one of the things I hear you say, and I’ve heard you say it enough times that I now believe it, believe it or not, is that when we wind up, when we put drama, when we power up, when we get excited, that’s like red meat to the kids to be like, “Ah ha. I’ve got Mom.” Right?
Dr. Leman: You have thrown red meat into the lions’ den.
Andrea: So she shouldn’t do any more explaining, trying to reason with him, trying to say, “Hey, your education …” Just let the principal or the teacher do that.
Dr. Leman: The kid knows every word you’re going to say.
Doug: It’s true.
Dr. Leman: He knows your script. In fact when you shut up and say nothing, and if you do good at this, within 48 hours, I swear to you the kid will come to you and say, “Mom, what’s wrong?” “Why, nothing. I’m wonderful.” And walk away. “Mom, no, you seem real different. I’m not sure why, but you’re real different.” “Really? Hmm, I don’t feel different. I feel great.” Walk away.
I mean he’ll pester the heck out of you trying to figure out what’s going on. Well, he knows what’s going on. He’s essentially saying, “Wait a minute. You know the dog and pony show we’ve created the last three years over my hearing aid? You’re not playing anymore. You quit on me.” Because it’s a game. It’s a set up. It’s all predetermined by a kid. But he’s a kid. Kids do stupid things. Is it a good choice not to wear your hearing aid when you need it? No. But there’s also social pressures at age 12 where he wants to be like everybody else who doesn’t wear a hearing aid. There’s all these things going on. You’ve gotta be aware of that, parent, but you know, it’ll work out. I’ll tell you, by the time he’s married, he’ll be wearing them, guaranteed.
Andrea: So she shouldn’t even tell him, “Okay, I am going to stop talking about your hearing aids.” She should just stop.
Dr. Leman: Right, yes.
Andrea: Because that kind of takes the power out of it.
Dr. Leman: It does. See how much you’ve learned?
Doug: that’s so hard to do Doctor, wait a minute. It is so hard.
Dr. Leman: Oh wah wah wah wah wah wah wah.
Andrea: And I think, you know, it goes-
Dr. Leman: Kids are hard on-
Andrea: Doug, you said something about, you know, how to reframe our thinking about what the future’s going to be because it goes back to what we believe was going to happen, right? Because that eats at us.
Dr. Leman: Yep. I’ve been talking to my daughter about not asking questions to her kids. I met them last night for dinner. We went to a little Mexican restaurant. I sat down as God is my judge, and he is my judge. The very first thing she says to her daughter was, “Honey, how was your day today at school.” I about threw up on the table. I mean, I’m thinking, “This is my daughter. She grew up with me. She knows better, but there it is out of her.
It’s an instinct. It’s an instant response. It’s a predictable moment for-
Andrea: So what could she have said instead to her daughter?
Doug: Andrea, that’s a different podcast.
Andrea: Oh, but now he’s got me thinking.
Dr. Leman: Well, it is a different podcast, but she came in and you could tell she had fallen asleep in the car because she came with her dad from school, and so number one parent. When your kid, you know they just woke up, the last thing you want to do is ask them a question. In fact, the most prudent thing to do would be to ignore the kid, and give the kid a chance to sort of wake up. Okay? I mean she was probably awake for 60 seconds when that question hit her. It just wasn’t a smart thing to do. If you want to say something, you can always make a statement, and say, “Oh, you look refreshed.”
Doug: Okay, this is a different podcast, you two.
Dr. Leman: It is.
Doug: It is. I’m going to pull the emergency cord and say we’ve gotta get back to the topic at hand.
Dr. Leman: You’re the boss.
Andrea: so Jessica should stop talking to her son about the hearing aids. Just drop it and let the school, talk to the school about it. And let the school be the police.
Dr. Leman: Yeah, let them be the bad guy for a while.
Doug: And the sooner we stop, the quicker our kids take responsibility. Hide the Game Boy, and the Xbox, and the … everything. That’s so good. So hard, but so good.
Andrea: Yep. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
Doug: That beautiful phrase, take the wind out of their sails.
Andrea: Alright, thank you Dr. Leman.
Doug: Well, and I also want to again, give a huge thanks to our friends over at Revell Books. You know they’re the ones that are making these podcasts happen, and they are huge huge friends to us and they’re just fabulous people over there who have a heart that just want to give you guys good books that will help bless you and help you, not only in parenting, but in life, and marriage, and a whole bunch of ways.
So thank you to those guys, and thank you to joining with us. We love these questions. If you want to leave a question, you can go to birthorderguide.com/podcastquestion, and you can leave your question right there and we’ll answer it. So birthorderguide.com/podcastquestion. Well-
Dr. Leman: One more thing, Dough. You know, I was thinking about that little 12 year old with hearing aids. You know that’s a hurting kid, and we’ve got a brand new book out called When Your Kid is Hurting, and it’s been very well received by people. It helps you talk differently to your children. All of us can use a refresher course in that. So the book is When Your Kid is Hurting: Helping Your Child Through the Tough Days. Now that’s a statement, helping your kid through the tough days, which means what? The tough days are here. The tough days are coming. If you think they’re not coming, you’re misguided, so be a good parent. You want to make the Revell people happy? Go buy that book. They’d love to sell it to you.
Doug: Thanks everybody for being with us, and go get the book. You can get it on Amazon. You can get it on your eReaders. You can get anywhere books are sold, your local bookstores as well. So we look forward to the next time hanging out with you and adding to your parenting toolbox.
Andrea: Thank you. Have a good day.
Doug: Bye bye.