When your kid wants something or seeks a reward before completing their responsibilities, do you let them have their way? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman explains what it means to make sure B doesn’t happen before A is complete. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
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Doug: Well, good morning, hi. I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: Well, it may not be morning. It might be afternoon, it might be evening, but wherever you are we are so glad that you are joining us on this podcast to learn more about how to just love those kids and parent better. If this does happen to be your first time, 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, it is October 2nd that this is being released, so the leaves have changing colors. Are you back in Tucson now?
Dr. Leman: I am, but on October 2nd, which is today for our listeners, I’m on The 700 Club. 700 Club airs about three different times a day on ABC Family, channel number one, but other channel outlets so you can catch it in the morning, you can catch at midday, or you can catch it at night. Wanna see me talking about a new book, which is entitled “When Your Kid is Hurting,” and that’s a good book as evidenced by already up on the bestseller list, you can check out The 700 Club today, as well.
Doug: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, that’s fun and football’s in the air, but we won’t talk about football and the University of Arizona.
Dr. Leman: No, let’s not talk football. You can hang your head and I can hang mine. I wanna send a friend of mine, who’s an NFL coach, and this year he’s out of football. Here’s my email I’m gonna send him today. “Dear Mike, it’s a miserable football season. My Bills stink and my Wildcats are awful and my favorite coach of all time is what? Unemployed. Get a job.”
Doug: My Bruins aren’t doing much better. We’ll move on. Okay. Let’s talk about today. Alrighty, here we go.
Dr. Leman, this is one of our favorite phrases. This is one that’s helped the Terpenings. Unbelievable. Actually, a good friend of ours we just turned on to the podcast, and the very first thing Brent said to me was, “I am using this phrase more than ever before and it’s helping me with my kids in unbelievable ways.” The phrase that you gave us is “B doesn’t happen until A is complete.” What the heck does that mean? What is that?
Dr. Leman: Well, it’s really simple. In fact, you could say it’s profoundly simple because just like your friend said, you can use it so easily. You can use it in almost any situation. It keeps you out of battles. For example, work is supposed to be done by your son or daughter. You notice it’s not done. You’re not gonna harangue them, you’re not gonna remind them, you’re not gonna bribe them, which most of you do. You’re gonna wait for the teachable moment.
The teachable moment comes with, “Dad, Dad, can I go over to Sam’s house?” No, honey, you can’t. “Dad, you always let me go to Sam’s house.” Honey, I just happened to notice your work wasn’t done. When your work is done, we can revisit that question. Walk away. “But Dad.” Honey, we’ve had that discussion. You know what you have to do. It just puts the tennis ball life back in whose court? Your kid’s.
Now, again, if you got a powerful kid, I’m telling you he’s not gonna say, “Yes, Dad, I understand. I’m gonna do my chores now. I’ll be back in an hour.” Most kids are gonna try to engage you in battle and that’s just evidence you have a powerful kid on your hands. There’s a powerful parent somewhere in the house. Maybe you’ve met him or her. Again, it’s just an easy way of staying out of the power struggle.
Doug: Break it down a little bit more for us if this is a brand new concept for people. You say that B doesn’t happen until A is complete. You’re saying that what doesn’t happen?
Dr. Leman: Whatever happens in life next for that kid. Kids are needy little suckers. They’re asking us for everything from, “Mommy, would you get me some Froot Loops? Mommy, can I have some strawberries? Mommy, can I go walk the dog?” They’ll go on and on and on. Whatever the kid wants, the answer is no, and that’s what we call Vitamin N. On our podcast, we talk about Vitamin E, which is encouragement, just a simple statement like, “Good job.” That’s an encouraging statement to a kid. Vitamin N is, “No, we’re not gonna do that. No, you can’t do that. No, I don’t feel like letting you do that.”
It’s all predicated on the child’s willingness to do what you’ve asked him to do in the confines of the home. The thought process behind it is, “Hey, this isn’t a hotel, it’s a home. Everybody pitches in.” Even Barney, you know who Barney is? That little whatever-colored dinosaur is? They got that little song, “Everybody do their share.”
Andrea: Clean up, clean up! Yep.
Dr. Leman: Now with two and a half year old grandchildren in my life, I’ve been revisiting that song lately. I like it. It’s got a nice beat to it. Snoop Dogg ever got ahold of that, it could be a hit. But anyway, I digress. The point is that there’s consequences in life, folks. This is such easy stuff. So many of you wanna micromanage your kids. You wanna tell them 1000 times to do this and that. It hurts your relationship. It’s not good. If you just remember, “B doesn’t start,” and B means whatever that kid wants in life. I don’t care what it is. It doesn’t happen ’til A gets done.
Doug: Andrea, you’re the most resident mom here between the three of us. You have to tell your kid, “No, I’m not taking you over to your best friend’s house because you didn’t do the dishes.”
Andrea: That one’s easier to me than if it’s something that affects the family or that I feel is important for them or they’ve committed to. I think I’ve heard Dr. Leman say, “No, you’re not playing in your soccer game until you’ve done this.” Well, to me, that’s a lot harder to say no to than going to their friend’s house just to play a game.
Doug: Dr. Leman, if their job was to mow the backyard and they didn’t mow the backyard-
Andrea: And they have a soccer game tonight.
Doug: They have a soccer game tonight, do you not let them play in the soccer game?
Dr. Leman: Yeah, nothing happens in that kid’s life until the chore is done. Now, if you can remain not emotional, I mean a statement like, “Honey, I don’t feel like driving you anywhere right now,” you don’t always have to tie it to the specific chore you asked this son or daughter to do. Let them figure it out. Let them wonder, “What’s with Mom? I just asked her if she’d drive me over to Timothy’s house and she said no. What’s going on with Mom? What is she mad about?” He’s asking his brother or sister, “I don’t know. I have no idea.”
He comes back for a second round. “Mom, I don’t get it.” Get what, honey? “Well, I wanna go over to Timothy’s house and you told me no.” That’s right, I told you I don’t feel like driving anywhere right now. “Well, what’s going on?” Honey, you know what? I think you can figure out what’s going on. Walk away. Let them dig for it. Let them squirm like a little worm. If you pin me against the wall and say, “Do I have to tell them? Well, eventually if it’ll make you feel better you could tell them, but I’d make them work for it.
A simple, “Honey, I asked you to do something this morning at about 9:00. It’s now 1:30 in the afternoon. I see it’s still not done. That really turns me off. That really disappoints me.” Now, when you say those words, you’ve raked coals on that kid. He don’t wanna hear that because, keep in mind, parent, that kid actually wants to please you. Now you’ve hit them right between the eyes and now he’s got a choice to make. Is he gonna hustle up and do what he needs to do, or he’s gonna prolong the agony and make his life miserable? But notice who’s making his life miserable. He is.
Andrea: That’s hard.
Dr. Leman: Andrea, did I say it was easy? I said it was simple, I think.
Andrea: You said it’s simple, yeah.
Dr. Leman: Okay.
Andrea: If you were starting this off, say you have a teenager and you’ve never heard this concept and you’re starting this off, would you start off by not telling them what you’re doing?
Dr. Leman: Oh, absolutely. You don’t wanna tell the enemy what you’re up to. How are you ever gonna win this thing? No, I’m not gonna tell them my defense plans, no.
Dr. Leman: I think part of the fun of being a parent is blindsiding a kid once in a while just to see his eyes narrow and say, “Wait a minute, I think this woman really is my mother and she is an authority over me and maybe I better pay attention to what the old lady has to say.”
Doug: Question for you, Dr. Leman, or maybe help out moms. I was meeting with a friend and he talked about how they just started to apply this. This doesn’t happen, their daughter did not make it in time for the carpool, and therefore she had to figure out a way to take [max 00:09:59] to get to her school instead ’cause they carpool and it’s quite a ways away. The mother was super distraught that now the daughter would hate her forever. The daughter was throwing all sorts of accusations against the parents and he was distraught. “Have we now destroyed our relationship with our daughter?” If you do this, are we gonna lose that relationship with our kids?
Dr. Leman: No, absolutely not. In fact, your kid’s just working you. They’re punching up your guilt buttons. A simple, “Honey, I’m sorry you feel that way” is fine, or “Honey, you can feel anything you want. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re just your feelings.” Put the ball right back in their court. As long as you don’t pay it off and go on the guilt hook and then do all the stupid things that parents tend to do in those situations, you’ll be fine.
Andrea: What would that look like? Can you role play a parent?
Doug: Do you wanna do a role play?
Andrea: Well, sometimes Dr. Leman- I don’t role play very well.
Dr. Leman: No, no, no, no, no. You can be such a brat, Andrea. You can be a brat. Go ahead, be a brat. You can do this.
Andrea: Well, I wanna hear what it is that the parent does in response to a [inaudible 00:11:11]. You’re gonna be the parent?
Dr. Leman: I’m the parent, you’re the child. Go.
Andrea: Dad, it’s not fair. I had plans. I need to be there at play practice tonight. I need you to drive me, I can’t get there otherwise and I’m gonna get in trouble, and then I won’t be able to do my role at the play.
Dr. Leman: Honey, lots of times when you don’t do responsible things in life, you end up paying for it on the other end. That’s just the way it is.
Andrea: But I will mow the lawn in the morning first thing, I promise. I promise. I’ll get the lawn mowed so that I can go to play practice tonight.
Dr. Leman: Well, as far as you doing the lawn tomorrow morning, you certainly have my permission to do that if you’d prefer, but you’re not going to play practice.
Andrea: Well, I’ll get kicked out of the play. Dad, this isn’t just a simple little- I’m not just going over to play with my friends.
Dr. Leman: You know, you could be right. You might get kicked out of that play. If you’re asking my opinion, I don’t think you’ll get kicked out of the play, but if you wanna believe that, you go ahead. But the fact remains I asked you to do something, you haven’t done it.
Andrea: Okay, what does it look like for the parent, like you said, to get on the guilt hook?
Dr. Leman: Well, that parent, after they’ve made the tough decision, starts second guessing themselves. “Ralph, Ralph, can I talk to you a minute? I told Cynthia she couldn’t go to play practice, but, you know, she mentioned this is really a big school production and she said maybe she’d get thrown out of the thing. I don’t want her thrown out of the play. I mean, I’m glad she’s involved in this and she did such a good job. You’re darn right you’d like to go and watch her, as well. I don’t know, do you think maybe I was too hard on her?”
Now, what that mom is looking for is someone else to say, “Yeah, maybe you’ve been too hard on her.” As soon as she hears that, that’s like giving permission. Then Mom waffles and comes back in and says, “Well, Cynthia, your dad and I talked about it and we’re gonna let that go this time.” Oh boy.
Andrea: Okay, what percentage of the parents, including Doug and I sitting here, do that?
Dr. Leman: Well, why do you suppose my books are so popular?
Doug: Dr. Leman, help us to understand. What’s the damage when that mom comes back and says, “We’ve changed our mind, you can go to play practice?”
Andrea: Or dad.
Dr. Leman: You know what? You’ve taken part of the authority cookie that you hold in your hand and you’ve broken off a significant chunk of it and you’ve thrown it away. Life isn’t fair, folks, and kids need to learn that at home. The Christian home needs to be a place where kids learn to fail. The heathen home needs to be a place where kids learn to fail. Failure is safest where? In your home. We all fail. Anybody who’s successful has had failure. Chalk it up as a learning experience for your kid and hold that kid accountable for the inaction or action that he or she did. That’s the bright thing to do.
Doug: You know, just to give a stamp of approval to this, we don’t always follow this, but the few times that we have and we’ve had Mount Vesuvius erupt from our children and flailings and we’re destroying their lives, the next day it’s placid water and it is years before we have to address that issue again. I mean years. This is one of those, it really works. You don’t have to do it very often, huh, Andrea?
Andrea: Yeah, but it’s incredibly hard. It might be profoundly simple.
Dr. Leman: It’s simple, yeah. You know, it’s not easy. It’s tough to make decisions, but it’s the tough decisions you make as a parent that really pays off down the line for your children and your family. Be encouraged, parents. You can do this. I’m telling you, this is one of those aces you wanna put in your back pocket. It’s so simple to remember. B doesn’t start until A gets completed. Kids are great at sloughing things off, forgetting. What’s the purpose of nature- “Mom, I forgot.” What’s the purpose of, nature of, forgetting?
Doug: To get out of it.
Dr. Leman: Yeah, he invents and he lies or daydreams and says, “Well, I forgot.” Well, we’ve all forgotten things. There’s some credibility in there that could be, but if your kid is forgetting all the time, then you have to ask yourself, “What’s the purpose of nature of the kid’s forgetting?” It’s his excuse-making. It’s trying to keep him from doing the right thing. You stick to your guns, parents, you’ll do fine.
Doug: Can we do one quick role play? Let’s do this for small kids. I’ve got a four, five, six-year-old kid and their job is to empty the dishes out of the dishwasher.
Dr. Leman: Yeah.
Doug: Is that realistic for a four, five, six-year-old?
Dr. Leman: Sure.
Doug: Yeah. They haven’t done it and it’s now snack time. Mom usually, before dinner, around 3:00, puts out a cookie and milk or something like that. Dr. Leman, I’m the five-year-old and I didn’t do the dishes the night before, and now I’m coming out looking for my cookie. Sound good?
Dr. Leman: Sure.
Doug: Okay. Hey, Mom, it’s 3:00 and we usually have cookies and milk at 3:00. Where’s the cookies?
Dr. Leman: Honey, we’re not ready for cookies and milk yet. I see there’s some work you’re supposed to do. You haven’t done it yet, so you may wanna think about what you’re supposed to be doing right now.
Doug: Uh, I’m supposed to be having cookies and milk. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, aren’t I?
Dr. Leman: Actually, there’s something you were supposed to do early this morning. When we got up, we talked about something to do and it had something to do with where you sleep at night.
Doug: Uh, make my bed?
Dr. Leman: I think that was part of it.
Doug: Clean my room?
Dr. Leman: Bingo!
Doug: Oh. I got [inaudible 00:17:11], Mom. Can I have my cookies and milk now?
Dr. Leman: No, honey. Get your work done and then we’ll have cookies and milk. If you don’t wanna do your work, we can forego the cookie and you can do it [crosstalk 00:17:23]
Doug: Ugh, it’s so hard to clean my room. I’ve got so much to do.
Dr. Leman: You poor thing.
Dr. Leman: You poor baby.
Doug: Mom, I hate you. Mom, I hate you. You are the meanest mother in the world. You never let me have any fun. All I ever do around here is work. I’m like your slave. All I do is work, work, work, work.
Dr. Leman: Alright, let me get this straight. You hate me, you’re a slave, and what else was it? ‘Cause I wanna remember what you said to me. This is important. I wanna hear every word you say. Say that over again. What, honey?
Doug: You heard me, Mom. I hate you and all I ever do is work around here. My friends don’t ever do this kind of stuff.
Dr. Leman: Okay, apparently you’d like to live in another home, but we’ll address that another time. Alright, well, I just wanna know where we stand. You hate me and I’m unfair and life is unfair.
Doug: (fake crying)
Dr. Leman: You wanna cry? Here, I’m gonna take you and we’re gonna go right to your room and you can look at your bed that’s not made and your room that needs to be picked up and you can just sit there and cry in there, okay? When you’re done crying, feel free to come back out. Click.
Doug: Holy Toledo. Andrea, could you do that?
Andrea: I’d probably go in there, “Okay, let’s make this fun!”
Dr. Leman: Okay, we’re gonna sing the Barney song.
Andrea: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Dr. Leman: I don’t care what you do, but don’t weaken, parent. These are the little teachable tools that you want your kid to understand that the words that Mom and Dad say are true. Now, I’m talking about everything in life. You’re the greatest teacher your kid’ll ever have. It’s fundamentally important that these kids grow up to respect you. By the way, I was just told that I was hated. A little later on, when a kid might ask for something, I might revisit that statement. In other words, I might say, “You know, right now I’m still sorta stuck on what you told me earlier, that you hate me. That didn’t sound good to me.” Walk away.
I’m telling you, that’ll put the guilt trip on the kid for sure. Let them get in touch with his feelings, let them realize he spoke in anger. He doesn’t hate you. Obviously he doesn’t. But what he needs to come around to say what? “I’m sorry, Mom, about what I said.” There’s your teachable moment. Do you forgive him? Yep. If he’s been crying, do you wipe up the snot on his face? Yeah, unfortunately you do that, too, ’cause you’re the mom, but you stood your ground. You told your kid that Mom is not put on this Earth to be walked on. If you have a little son, if we’re talking about a little son or we’re talking about Mom and son, remember you represent all of womanhood to that little guy.
Doug: Dr. Leman, the payoff for parents is that they’re not gonna have to do this a bazillion times for the kids to get this.
Dr. Leman: No. I call it “pull the rug out” and let the little buzzard tumble. He’s not gonna be psychologically damaged for life. He’s gonna be okay. It’s a teachable moment.
Doug: Well, I hope that helps all those parents out there that have been struggling with a reoccurring problem of kids just working you over to get this phrase in your mind, “B doesn’t start until A is complete,” for you to have the confidence in your soul to know that I can stand my ground. As you said, I don’t wanna lose my authority cookie by not doing it. I can tell you, from the few times we’ve done it, it does work. It really does.You don’t have to do it very often.
Thank you, Dr. Leman, and we love being with you guys. We look forward to the next time to help you out and we wanna thank our friends over at Baker Books who are making this possible and who have made it. They are the ones that are allowing us to keep doing this podcast and those guys are amazing over there at Reveille, Baker Books. Thank you, guys. Look forward to the next time.
Andrea: Thank you. Have a good week.