Is it really possible to prevent your kid’s misbehavior before it starts? Listen in to to today’s episode for Dr. Leman’s advice on parenting misbehaved children.


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Andrea: Everything and everyone is calling and screaming for my attention and now you’re telling me, Dr. Leman, that my kid’s misbehavior is rooted in their desire for my attention?

Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: We are so glad that you are here because we’re going to talk today about how to stop misbehavior before it starts. That sounds like a promise that’s too good to be true, doesn’t it, Andrea?

Andrea: Yeah.

Doug: How do you stop behavior? Okay, well, if you are first time here, welcome. You’re in for a treat. If you’ve never met Dr. Leman, he is a fabulous gentleman: super funny, super practical, down to earth. I wish you guys could all hear what we say before we hit record on this button. He is always nice to Andrea and he’s always mean to me. It’s worse when the microphone is not on.

Doug: I want to remind you 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.

Doug: Dr. Leman, you’ve written a book called Have a New Kid by Friday. Now, you’ve written a book called While Your Kid Misbehaves and What to Do About It. You are making a promise that says that you can help us know how to stop misbehavior before it starts.

Andrea: In your book, you talk about four stages of misbehavior, so we’d love to hear some more about that.

Dr. Leman: Well, there are four stages of misbehavior, but what if we just focus on how to prevent misbehavior in your home? Do you really want to get to level three? Do you want to get to level four? I don’t think so. But there are four levels of misbehavior that kids give us. It’s engaging in what I call “purposive behavior.” In other words, those behaviors serve a purpose in the child’s life. That’s a psychological term, “purposive.”

Dr. Leman: We could go into those in great detail, but I really think we should do what we say we’re going to do and that is, “Okay, Leman, show me how, do I create situations in my home so my kids don’t misbehave?” Okay, well, let’s start early. When that baby comes out of that womb, that child is 100% dependent upon you, parent. It really starts at that point where you make a commitment to each other that you will be on the same page as parents, that you will speak common language, that you will invest in this child, okay?

Dr. Leman: As they grow, kids have no interest socially in anybody else. They’re, again, hedonistic. When they’re infants, they want to be fed, they want to be held, they want to be comforted, they love tactile stimulation, all those things. All right, let’s get that child to age a year, nine months. They’re in the high chair. If you put the child in a high chair, he or she stays in the high chair until breakfast is over, until lunch is over, until dinner is over. Now, do you make a 11-month-old stay in a chair for an hour while you finish? No, you don’t. The point is, you take time for training.

Dr. Leman: What’s really important for young parents to understand: that routines are important, the mundane is important. That’s why kids take naps. Again, parent, you don’t sit down and say to your husband or your wife, “All right, now hear this. This will be the schedule for the Terpening baby.” It doesn’t work that way. Every child comes with a unique schedule. You watch your children, you’re with them every day, and you’ll develop a very natural rhythm for when that child eats, when they take their naps, when they go night-night for good, all those kinds of things.

Dr. Leman: You have to commit the wisely using. Now, notice the word “wisely,” wisely using your authority, and that’s a God-given authority, friends, to be the parent you need to be. All those Leman books will help you be the parent that, quite frankly, God would have you be. You have to understand that kids, by their nature, by their nature, I know they’re sinful. Nobody had to teach a kid to tell a lie that they didn’t take the cookie, okay, or they didn’t run their finger through the chocolate cake. Nobody had to teach a kid that. They have a sinful nature, okay? I get it, you get it.

Dr. Leman: The point is this: The kids basically want to make us happy. They want to please us. Why not empower them as they grow older? “Well, what does that mean, Leman?” It means your three-year-old can help unload the dishwasher. The three-year-old can help feed the dog. Involve kids, empower them. As they grow older, listen to them.

Dr. Leman: I’m flying through these things, folks. We could probably do a podcast on every one of these things. Listening is a great skill. Many times, we just shut off kids. We send a message that “I don’t care what you think.” Well, if you want a prescription for disaster, there it is. Are kids going to come up with great ideas? Yeah, once in a while. Most of their ideas are impractical. Some of them are downright impossible. They’re kids, okay? As you listen to them and you give them responsibility, you talk vitamin E to your children.

Dr. Leman: What does that mean? Well, if you’re not a listener to our podcast on a regular basis, we may have to remind you, vitamin E is what? Encouragement. It’s a way of responding to the acts your kids do in a positive way: “Honey, thank you so much for helping after dinner. That was so kind of you.” That’s an encouraging statement. “Oh, honey, you are so good. Here’s $5.” That doesn’t help, parents. That’s reward and punishment that was gone out years ago. Learning to talk vitamin E, again, many of the Leman books will help you become pretty good at talking with vitamin E, encouragement.

Dr. Leman: Then lastly, I’m going to say this: Your kids have to know you care, that you have their back and you give comfort. When they fall and they skin their knee, you give comfort. When their boyfriend dumps them after a beautiful romance of 10 days in seventh grade, you need to comfort. You need to listen. You need to sit back. You have to sometimes wipe those tears away.

Dr. Leman: Well, there’s a short course. You just heard it, okay? I don’t know where Andrea and Handsome Boy will take this, but that’s the short course in how to prevent misbehavior.

Doug: Ooh, I liked the “Handsome Boy.” Andrea, did you hear that? “Handsome Boy.”

Andrea: I heard that.

Doug: All right, wow.

Andrea: All right, Handsome Boy, what do you think?

Doug: Oh, wow. I like this. Well, now I’m all confused because now I’m thinking about the “handsome” part.

Doug: Dr. Leman, again, I’m surprised. If I going to stop behavior, the very first thing that you said was “You have to be on the same page,” or really near the front, was “same page as parents.” You used to have parents come into your office, drop Buford off, and then you would say, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You two stay. We have to talk to you.” Why is that so important and how does that spouse get that other one to at least be somewhat on the same page with them?

Dr. Leman: Well, what happens in life when we marry is we tend to marry someone very different from us, which is good, but when it comes to parenting, one may have a very authoritarian stance and to balance it off, the mate might take the permissive stance. We got good cop and bad cop trying to parent kids.

Dr. Leman: Now, all those things that I just went through, which was a pretty good list of things to get a parent to be able to stop misbehavior before it starts, all of those would be blown out of the water by simply making one parent the good cop and one parent the bad cop, one the authoritarian and one the permissive. You have to be on the same page. You can do all these wonderful things, but if your mate sabotages that, we don’t get to where we want to be.

Doug: Because why? What does that do to the kids?

Dr. Leman: It gives them double messages. It teaches them to be manipulative because they know that they can work Mom, if she’s the easy one, or Dad, if he’s the easy one. It teaches them to do things we really don’t want them to do or be.

Doug: The reason I’m bringing this one up is I think, Andrea, I think this is one of the biggest changes in our marriage after listening to Dr. Leman, was we got way more on the same page about how we were going to parent, right? We came more in the middle, right? Because it’s exactly what you said, Andrea was the permissive, I was the authoritarian, and it gave us what you said, the second one, which was interesting, was same language, that we would start to use the same terminologies. I think your books really help parents who have neither of those, a plan or language, both of those. Would you not agree?

Andrea: Absolutely.

Doug: Why do you think that reading Dr. Leman’s book helped you stop being so permissive?

Andrea: I think probably what it did is it just gave me those pocket phrases, which made sense. Then I didn’t have to resort to being permissive because I now had something tangible to use to actually train them in the way that I would want them to go, where before, it was more like giving up or giving in and resorting to, “Well, this is too hard.”

Doug: Yeah. That’s one of the great things about, especially this book is that you talk about how we, me and you, Andrea, grew up and we parents had just the way we were parented in many ways. We just carbon copied it, but the pocket phrases, the new language, we didn’t react out of our old habits, but we actually got to start responding with these new phrases and those phrases gave us the 20 seconds to calm down. Dr. Leman, any reaction to that?

Dr. Leman: Well, I’m thinking of Gary Chapman’s book as you guys were speaking. He wrote The Five Love Languages and most people know what those are, we won’t go through them, but most couples have different love languages. I always loved the birth order book for lots of reasons because it gives insight into marriage as well as parenthood, but it gives you a way of taking a hold of life, looking at our kids, looking at our marriage. It helps us to navigate the pathway to being on the same page as husband and wife.

Dr. Leman: It all starts with you, parents. I remind you that you have God-given authority in your back pocket. You have all the gold, so to speak, in your back pocket. Again, your kids wouldn’t be wearing shoes today if you didn’t buy them for them. They wouldn’t be closed today if you didn’t buy those clothes for them. You have extreme authority and you have to learn to use that wisely, not as a authoritarian “All right, listen up. You’re going to do what I tell you to do,” and certainly not as a permissive because that’s not a use of authority in any shape or form.

Dr. Leman: Is there an art form in parenting? Yeah, there probably is, it’s part of it, but you have to work at betting on the same page, or like I say, all these things we just went through will be blown out of the water. It’ll be in vain. That’s principle number one, that the two will work toward oneness. I think quite frankly, that God gave us that. The differences in to make us really work hard at becoming a couple. It’s not easy.

Doug: Well, I find it so interesting. This is not where Andrea and I thought we were going to take this conversation at all and yet it is the foundational piece that if the couple can get on the same page, you can solve a heck of a lot of problems. We weren’t on the same page for years and years and years and it created problems with our kids. I also think of how many fights we had, not fights, discussions we had about, “Hey, you let this kid do this,” “Well, you did this with the kid,” until we got on the same page, which caused friction in our marriage, too.

Dr. Leman: Hmm. See, that gets down to exercising your will, okay, against your mate. It gets you both on a defensive, then you become competitive in the marriage. I’ve said many times that marriage is not a competitive sport. If someone is winning your marriage, you both lose.

Dr. Leman: It really comes back to a word that people really don’t like. In fact, I love the time I was speaking at Women of Faith in Las Vegas with 10,000 women in a round and I just said to them, “I’ve chosen as a topic this evening how to be a submissive woman.” Oh, man, it was so much fun to say that. I mean, they all looked at me like, “You’re a dead man.”

Dr. Leman: The reality is if you want to be a couple, if you really want oneness, which is the foundation of what we’re talking about today, how to keep your kids from misbehaving before it starts, be a couple, have oneness. Submit to who? To almighty God. Trust Him in all things. In doing so, by not sharing judgments, by sharing feelings, you will be drawn together and you will form a union that cannot be penetrated by the enemy. A reminder, the enemy are your children. You’re the one that brought the Trojan horse in your home, okay? Just to put a little humor on it.

Dr. Leman: This is workable. This is workable. This is a good podcast. I hope people will take this podcast and call their buddies and say, “Hey, listen to this, this is pretty good,” because this is one of the better ones I think we’ve ever done.

Doug: Well, and I feel like if you’re listening to this, you’re like, “Wow, guys, give me something super practical that I can execute on,” and I’m like, “I don’t know how more clear we can say this. This is the most important first step, is get on the same page with your spouse.”

Doug: The thing I like about this new book is as a male, I’m the male, right, is that it’s super easy to read and it’s like there is super practical, there’s like “the seven stages of this” and “the four steps of this” and “the four ways you do this,” so that it’s for someone’s brain like mine that likes things actually sequential, I’m like, “Oh, okay. Great. I see how this goes,” so that then you and I can be on the same page.

Dr. Leman: Well, yeah. Doug, let’s, in full disclosure, tell our listeners that Doug, he just said, is a man. I just want to point out the guy drinks tea, okay? He is a Renaissance man.

Doug: Hey, it’s strong tea. Back off.

Dr. Leman: He’s a Renaissance man. He drinks tea. He likes the theater. He’s a reader and yet he’s a people person. I love the guy. She got a good… I told her. She called me one day, she said, “Dr. Leman, should I dump Doug?” I said, “Dump him? You kidding me? He’s a winner. You want to hang on to him. You could put him on eBay. You could get thousands for him.”

Andrea: I decided to hang on to him, yep, for this many years.

Doug: Thanks, Leman. Thanks, Leman. You-

Dr. Leman: Oh, good choice.

Andrea: I’ll just keep mine and his tea.

Doug: … Yeah, usually. Oh, man. Going to the theater with my daughters is so fun. Okay, Andrea, help us get back on track. That’s your job. Okay.

Doug: Before I forget, I want to make sure that you get a chance to go get the book, The Way of the Wise, between now and the end of April of 2020 for a dollar 99 wherever eBooks are sold, The Way of the Wise. Andrea has an Amazon review from Jane that you can get it for only a buck 99. Go ahead, Andrea.

Andrea: “If you’re already familiar with Dr. Kevin Leman, you’ll love this book. If this is your introduction to his writing, you’re in for a treat. Leman takes some of Scripture’s greatest hits and weaves them together as a series of funny, warm, often inspiring stories. The result is a book that takes about 60 minutes to read, but one could lead to life-altering changes. This book is as entertaining as it is instructive thanks to the vignettes that pair so well with the verses Leman selects. It will cause you to ask yourself some tough questions and to challenge the notion that life just is the way it is. Open this book and you’ll open yourself to an opportunity for meaningful growth. I loved it. Jane.”

Doug: Thanks, Jane. Jane. Get it between now and the end of April of 2020, The Way of the Wise for a dollar 99. Now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: Parents, every day, you have an opportunity to comment not already on how your child looks on the outside. I know those kids are cute, downright adorable, quite frankly. I know at our schools, I love to just watch the children in the natural state: just playing, smiling, laughing, giggling. They’re beautiful. But how many times a day you notice that they’re beautiful on the inside?

Dr. Leman: When those kids say things that are kind and encouraging to others, don’t miss the opportunity to pull that child aside and say, “Honey, when you had your little girlfriend over this afternoon and you were doing your little playdate, I couldn’t help but overhear what you said to her and I thought what you said to her was really kind. You were really talking about the good qualities that she has. No wonder you like her as a friend. I’m really proud of the fact that you can choose good friends, but you know what? It’s really important for all of us to look inside, because beauty sometimes can be hidden and when we see beauty in someone we should comment on it.” That’s a great way to encouraging everybody in life.

Andrea: Dr. Leman, you can give us a whole bunch of things that we create situations so they misbehave and we talked about being on the same page. The one that really sparked my mind was taking time for training and building a routine and a schedule into their life. I’m curious why having a schedule is so important for that small child.

Dr. Leman: Well, children get security from the mundane, from the predictable. Now, if you don’t think that’s true, ask a parent who’s lost their child’s favorite binky. I’m telling you, there’s stories where people traveled 30 miles to find the store that carried the same kind of binky because a child just a few months old knows the difference between their favorite binky, which was lost and we have no idea where it went, it could have gone down the toilet for all we know. I’m just telling you that routine gives confidence and security, warmth, a feeling of closeness. You don’t want to get kids off scheduled.

Dr. Leman: All you mommies, listen to me, you’re traveling. You’ve got to go to your in-laws, which quite frankly, is not one of your favorite trips, okay, but you have to go because you’re trying to honor your husband and to tell the truth, he is not real happy to go either. You know those situations. When you travel and you get your kids out of sync, what kind of behavior can you expect?

Doug: Well, not to go back to, since we’ve been talking more about parents, you’ve said “One of the most important things is that parents are predictable, that the kids know how you’re going to behave.” This is where having a game plan, having an idea of how you want to parent instead of just making it up on the fly is gold, honestly. Even if it’s a little different, it’s way better because then our kids don’t have to guess what’s going to happen. This is why I think reading any of these books are amazing to help you out.

Andrea: Going back to the schedule thing, if I had a child that had no routine in their early life and as they get older and reach their adolescent years, how does it affect them if their life has just been chaos all growing up?

Dr. Leman: Well, a good guess, and this is a guess, Andrea, but a good guess would be that that kid will be all over the place. He or she will run from pillar to post, just looking for the next new excitement. These are kids that tend to find it difficult just to sit and enjoy something quietly. They’re kids that run from pillar to post.

Doug: Okay, well, we really got to the foundation of how to stop misbehavior before it starts and at the same time, we never got to talk about the four stages of misbehavior.

Andrea: The four stages.

Dr. Leman: No, no, no.

Doug: We’re totally out of time. We’re totally out of time.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, we’re not talking about them either because guess what?

Doug: What?

Dr. Leman: If you really want to dig into this, you’re going to have to get a copy of, guess what, Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do About It.

Doug: True.

Dr. Leman: There’s a genius to this podcast, in a way. We’ve whetted your whistle and then some. Now, you need to follow through and pick up a copy of that book because that will help you sew all these ideas together and give you a great game plan.

Doug: Well, this is why I don’t like you because Andrea and I think we know what you’re supposed to talk about and then you are like, “You’ve skipped over like three steps to get to there,” and then it’s always like, “Oh, yeah, that is more foundational, huh, Andrea?”

Andrea: Yeah.

Dr. Leman: Well, let me add one thing. Let me ask you guys a question. What do you think that Kevin Leman, that would be me, is going to have for breakfast this morning?

Doug: Oh, I know. Toast.

Andrea: Toast and coffee.

Doug: Toast and coffee.

Andrea: With jam on it.

Doug: Yep.

Dr. Leman: All right, that’s just my early… I got up at 4:30 this morning and as we’re doing this right now, it’s about 6:55 in the morning. When I get up, I take medicine. I take a little something and you’re right, I’ll have a little English muffin with a little jam on it, well, a lot of jam on it. But when I go out for breakfast, I will have two eggs over medium, hash browns, bacon lightly done, please, and dry whole-wheat toast or nine-grain toast and a cup of coffee. I’ll have that today. I’ll have that tomorrow.

Dr. Leman: When I traveled to Europe last year and you go to breakfast in Europe, I don’t get it. I mean, there’s fish, there’s cheeses, there’s slices of ham, turkey. I never did see a hash brown all the time I was in Spain or Germany, for that matter, and I felt like a fish out of water. I was out of my comfort zone. Everybody’s not a creature of habit like I am. Men tend to be much more creatures of habit than women do. Now, that’s a wide brush. Again, all women are not the same. All men are not the same.

Dr. Leman: My point is when you get that fish out of their environment, they’re going to be a little uncomfortable. With kids, when you get them out of a routine, just talk to any parent who’s three-year-old missed their nap, you tell me what dinner’s going to be like. I can tell you what it’s going to be like, it’s going to be pandemonium.

Doug: This is the reason, Andrea, that I need so many kisses from you because it’s part of the routine.

Andrea: Oh, because it’s part of the routine, huh?

Doug: It’s part of the routine. This is why I need all of them. Otherwise, I just felt like a fish out of water and then I get all cranky and whiny.

Andrea: Oh, I see.

Doug: Alrighty. Thank you, Dr. Leman, again, for getting us back to the foundations of how to stop behavior before it starts.

Andrea: What I’m seeing is it goes back to us as parents again. It’s always going back to us as parents and our parenting style. I like the phrase that Dr. Leman used couple of weeks ago on the podcast that it’s a vitamin D deficiency in your parenting. I know you refer to “vitamin E” and “vitamin N,” but I think just in general, that’s a really good phrase to remember: If the kids are getting off, how much of it is my vitamin deficiency in my parenting?

Doug: And encourage all you parents, Dr. Leman has said “Your kids will quickly change when you change.” I’m telling you, we’ve seen it in our kids. When I’ve changed and my kids have said “Thank you for changing,” it can happen. Okay, get on the same page as parents. Get the same language, which is way more important than you think it is. If you don’t have the same parenting language, trust me. Wisely use your authority, listening, and learn how to give vitamin E, not vitamin P.

Doug: A couple of wrap-up things that are kind of fun. Revell Baker are our friends and they have offered to give away a free Dr. Kevin Leman book this week. If you go to Dr. Leman’s Facebook, Dr. Kevin Leman, if you search for that, they are giving away, which is really fun, this week you can get, I’m telling you, one of the best books, Have a New Kid by Friday. Go there. They have a little contest for you. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just happy that they’re giving books away.

Doug: Secondly, you can get Way of the Wise between now and the end of April for a buck 99. Honestly, I can’t encourage you enough, if you have not read a Leman book or you have read one, to go get… Well, I guess you can’t get it yet, but in a couple of weeks you can get the new one, Why Your Kid Misbehaves and What to Do About It, so you learn about the four stages of misbehavior, which we didn’t get to on this podcast.

Doug: Well, we love being with you. We look forward to the next time that we get to hang out with you. It really is a joy for us. Thank you for joining us.

Andrea: Have a great week giving vitamin E and N to your kids.

Doug: And getting on the same page.

Andrea: Yep.

Doug: Alrighty. Well, take care. See you next time.

Andrea: Have a good week.

Doug: Bye-bye.