When your kid doesn’t respect your no, what do you do? Listen in on today’s episode to learn what Dr. Leman says about administering vitamin n to your kids.


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Doug: As a parent, have you ever experienced that incredibly annoying time when your kid just gets fixated and opens and shuts, opens and shuts, opens and shuts, or just keeps dropping that same toy over and over? You tell them, “Stop,” but they won’t. That’s the question that Dee asks, “How do I stop this from my 18-month old.” And we get to ask Dr. Leman for you.

Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are joining us on this podcast today. We want 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. As a reminder, you can go to birthorderguy.com/podcastquestion or slash the episode numbers. Like this episode is 311, and there you’ll see at the bottom of the page a microphone, and you can leave your audio question like Dee did.

Dee: Hi, Dr. Leman. I was curious if you would please tell me the appropriate way to discipline an 18-month old? For example, he keeps opening the cabinet where the chemicals are or banging on the glass on one of the dressers. I jump up right away, remove him and tell him, “We don’t do that.” So I have my parents tell me, “Just spank him. He understands. Kids know at six months old not to do something. Look at all you kids, you turned out well, well-mannered and responsible.” I don’t know if removing him from the situation is the right way to do it at this age. I’m not sure if that’s still appropriate.

Dee: I personally tried smacking his hand and he swatted back at me. So obviously don’t want to teach him that hitting is okay. So I’m not sure what is the appropriate discipline for scenarios like this where it’s a repetitive don’t do that, don’t do that. And if you could just tell me what I should be doing at this stage of his development, so that for instance, if there’s something for his own safety and he’s across the room, if I tell him “no” he will know not to do that and he’ll stop in his tracks. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your podcast. Thank you, guys.

Dr. Leman: Well, what a good question. Thank you Dee for that. You sound like a great mommy by the way. Wow. That’s sort of a loaded question. Okay? In fact, the whole idea of spanking a child is, we can start there, is an interesting one. Now, I’ve always pledged to you that I would always call a spade a spade, tell it like it is. Okay? I’ll give you my honest opinion and I’ll get some nasty ones on this, I guarantee you.

Dr. Leman: But let’s start with, I know you were asking about an 18-month old, but let’s take a three year old who has great verbal skills, understands commands well, and that kid defiantly looks you in the eye and says to you, “No.” Well, would it be the end of the world if you took an open hand and gave that kid a swat on their tail? That’s the question I have for you. Would it be the end of the world? Well, here’s the problem. You give that kid a swat on the tail, and he’s in preschool and he has an accident at preschool and there’s a red mark on that kid’s tail and the teacher asks, “Did you get hurt?” “My mommy spanked me, my daddy spanked me.”

Dr. Leman: And depending upon what state you live in, you’re about to experience hell on earth. Okay? There are going to be people who knock on your door and say, “We’re going to take your child. We’re going to make your child a ward of the court all of a sudden. We’re going to place them in a supervisory position.” Because you what? Because you exercised your authority as a parent and you swatted your child. So I can’t publicly say, “Okay parents, open hand on a kid’s tush is not going to damage their psyche for life,” but I’m telling you that the social environment we live in today precludes you from spanking children.

Dr. Leman: Is spanking inherently harmful? No, it’s not. But the problem is people don’t know how to spank. Years ago, I detailed in a book how to spank a child. I’m going back, I don’t know, 30 years, how to spank a child. I decided, and again I’m just telling you how it is, you don’t have to agree, disagree, whatever, but I came to the conclusion that so few people even would know how to spank a child appropriately. They wail on a child and sometimes tell himself that’s discipline. It’s not discipline. So I’ll get to Dee’s question and I’ll answer you as best I can.

Dr. Leman: Dee, my guess is that your nature, you’re probably too authoritarian. Okay? And that’s why when your parents say, “Hey, just spank him, everything will be okay,” is real tempting for you. But the fact that your little guy is 18-months old is interesting to me because I always tell parents circle the calendar when your child hits 18-months of age. Because that’s developmentally where a child will come into true power, powerful behavior, behavior that serves a purpose in a kid’s life. Yes, I know some of you have 12-month olds who can arch their back and win a triple gold medal for their heroic acts in the high chair. But by 18-months, it’s really pretty well developed. So how you handle discipline with an 18-month old I think is really important.

Dr. Leman: You talked about the fact that you tell them, “Don’t do that, don’t open that cabinet door.” Now let me say this, Dee, it should be impossible for your 18-month old to open any cabinet or any area where there’s dangerous anything there. There’s all kinds of secure things you can buy. So number one, your home, your apartment, needs to be completely baby-proof. As my pediatrician once said to us, “Kids are dumb as mud. They’ll put anything in their mouth and they don’t read labels.” So number one, opening things, you need to make sure that that’s not possible, so it’s not a matter of them getting into things they shouldn’t.

Dr. Leman: Your best discipline is to remove your 18-month old from the scene, whatever it is. If your child is acting up or being defiant or whatever, pick him up, put him in a playpen, if you still have one up, and have him have some time looking out through the nets. Let him figure out that what he just did is very inappropriate. So if you do that, he’ll howl like a coyote at the moon. So be it. Let him howl. He’ll stop. A real powerful kid might howl for 15, 20 minutes, some even a half an hour, but they’ll stop as long as it’s not [inaudible 00:08:11]. Now, if you keep running in and tell him to settle down, be quiet, stop screaming, whatever, you’re just going to prolong your agony and his maladapted behavior.

Dr. Leman: I thought it was interesting that you slapped his hand and he slapped you back. You have to understand the psyche of a kid. Okay, if you have a right to punish me, then I have the right to what? See, in a democratic society, kids don’t view themselves as social unequals. They see themselves as equal to the adult, socially equal. And are they socially equal? They’re not the same. But God doesn’t love parents more than He loves children, but God has given parents authority over children. Not authoritarianism. If you want to look at the Scripture, Ephesians 6 says, “Children obey your parents. It’s the right thing to do because God has placed them,” and here’s the key word, “in authority over you.”

Dr. Leman: So your question is a good one. And I know that it can be very exasperating, but if you’re trying to reason with the 18-month old, Dee, let me suggest you don’t go down that path. Okay? Use action and not words. When the child’s misbehaving, again, you pick the child up swiftly, give him the look, put them in a room, close the door. You may want to have the Kevin Leman [inaudible] Lock on the door that locks on the outside, where the child can’t come out. They have to stay in their room. And they stay in their room until when? Until they quiet down. And then a simple, “Honey, are you to come back out?” And then pick him up, give them a little love. They got their blankie with them and life goes on.

Dr. Leman: So for openers, that’s how I would answer your question. I tried to do that as honestly as I possibly can. And by the way, the question is, “Dr. Leman, when you raised your five children, did you spank them?” Yes I did. But let me give you a definition of a spank. It was an open hand on a kid’s tush. I have five children. We went to the trouble to figure out how many times we gave a swat to our son or our daughters, the aggregate number was guess what? Eight. So five kids got eight swats in their child-rearing days.

Doug: So I’m kind of [inaudible] on the last thing you said. So I’m going to shine the light on you, Andrea. You’ve said this a bazillion times, “Use actions, not words.” So Andrea, when you pick up the 18-month, how hard is it not to communicate with words to them, and just pick them up and walk in and drop them in the playpen?

Andrea: Nearly impossible. The part that’s even harder for me is not to go check on them.

Doug: Oh.

Andrea: Yeah.

Doug: Because?

Andrea: Because you want to make sure they’re okay. I mean, you know all these things that could go wrong.

Dr. Leman: A parent has a monitor today, they can see what’s going on in the room. Okay? For those parents who are thinking, “Oh, I could never lock my child in a room.” I mean, give me a break. All you’re doing is saving yourself some effort and making sure the child stays in the room for awhile. That’s all. You can look at the monitor that’s in your kitchen or your bedroom and you know exactly what a little [Beaufort’s] up to in there.

Doug: So why is it important that dad or mom, when they pick up the children, don’t use words to them and don’t scold them or say, “Stop opening the cabinets.” Right? “That’s not what we do around here.”

Dr. Leman: Well, I think one word, which is vitamin N, which is simply “no.” Give them the look, a look of disapproval, pick them up and remove them, that’s great discipline for an 18-month old. What are you going to say to the 18-month old? What words you’re going to use?

Doug: Dear Beaufort, in the Terpening household we do not open and close cabinets because it is unsafe for you and you need to learn not to do that. Well, I’m now going to go put you in your playpen for five minutes.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, if I’m an 18-month old, I’m going to blow that off real quick. I’m going to go, “Oh, here he goes again. Here he goes on one of his editorials, some good old dad.”

Andrea: What are the chances that that kid is going to go back to that cabinet when they get brought out of their play pen and try it again?

Dr. Leman: It’s very good if he’s a powerful child because he want us to know, “Hey, do you mean business?” So parent, if you’re going to discipline once in awhile, good luck. So you have to be consistent. So if he comes out and he goes right to that cabinet again, you know he needs just a little bit more time to think about what we do in the Terpening household. And so you pick up Doug, you drag him to the room and say, “Doug, you’re in there again.” Now, I’m laughing at myself, which is not a good idea.

Doug: Well, I remember when our kids were younger, zero to six, seven, somewhere in there, Andrea, we could almost clockwork, every 90 days, three months, they wanted to see who is an authority around here. Right?

Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug: They would be like, “Hey, it’s been awhile. Let’s just see if maybe I’m now the boss.” It was like for three or four days they just created chaos. And then if we held the line, it stopped. If we didn’t, it would go on for weeks and then we had a bigger problem to make up. But you’re right, how as parents do we deal with that mindset that every three months or so the kids are just going to test that boundary?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, I think kids play us like a violin, and I think if there’s two of them they have discussions like, “Hey, what do you think we ought to try tonight?” It’s sort of like checking the temperature. It’s going outside and looking around the skies and seeing what the climate is in your home. And that’s why being a consistent parent is so important. When the kids realize whether they turn left or right, they have parents united out there, they’ll fall in line. And keep in mind they want to please you. That’s what parents miss. Your kid actually wants to please you. So this is all doable. This is a good question. Thank you, Dee.

Doug: Yeah. I’m going to do the eBook promotion, and then I’m going to tell a funny story about Andrea because it’s always fun to make her look bad. I love it. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Andrea: Yeah, I love you too, honey.

Doug: Yeah. Sweet. So the eBook promo is The Way of the Wise for a buck 99 between now and the end of April. So you only have a couple of days to get this. So wherever eBooks are sold, for $1.99. And RedDog911 off Amazon said, “I enjoyed this quick read of Dr. Leman’s. His insights into the verses he’s chosen are laced with his own wisdom and humor. A refreshing read.” So if you haven’t read Way of the Wise, you can get it now until the end of April of 2020 for $1.99. Also, now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: Hey, parents. Do you ever have input into your kids youth group, church group, social group, whatever? I think parents are always looking for ideas that are healthy and good for kids. Let me give you a couple of them.

Dr. Leman: How about a carwash? “Well, Lehman, how many people have car washes?” “A lot of people have car washes. What so new about that?” “Well, how about a carwash that doesn’t charge?” “Oh, I get you. That’s a better way to make money. They’ll give you donations, right?” “No, you’re still not there. How about a car wash where we don’t accept donations?” “What do you mean? Well, how much clearer can I be? We don’t accept donations from anybody. We just wash peoples’ cars.”

Dr. Leman: Or how about projects in your neighborhood where your kids go over and volunteer to help an elderly person in the neighborhood, whether it’s raking leaves or shoveling snow, or you name it, but without payment. Kids should learn to serve other people without anything but a “thank you” as a reward, if you want to call it that. It’s a feeling that you get when you give to other people anonymously. Set up those situations for kids. Kids need to know that other people count in life. Let’s face it, kids are pretty hedonistic. They care about only themselves in too many situations, so look for ways where they can serve other people. It’s good for all of us, isn’t it?

Doug: Okay, so here is my funny story about Andrea that totally proves your point that children are not innocent. I know I’ve said it before in the podcast, but it just so perfectly highlights it.

Doug: I don’t know, three, four years ago our kids said, while we were driving somewhere, we would have a discussion before we would get in the car on who was going to get mom to play the music we wanted to play on the radio, and we knew that the youngest could do it one way and the oldest could do it another way. So we would look at where mom’s temperature was and make a game plan to get what we wanted on the radio. That’s a sweet little Terpening.

Andrea: And that makes me look bad-

Dr. Leman: No.

Andrea: … because I’m manipulated by my children?

Doug: No, it doesn’t make you look bad. It makes you look like [crosstalk 00:00:18:09]-

Dr. Leman: They’re schemers. Yeah, schemers.

Andrea: And they admitted it.

Doug: Well, this is why I think your point that children are schemers is so important, that these kids are not innocent in their behavior. Right? This is what you’re trying to get us to understand. They are testing the waters to see if they can get what they want. Right?

Dr. Leman: Hey listen, I’ve loved the past few podcasts we’ve done and I know we get a lot of positive feedback from people about how they love the practical nature and the fact that they tend to be a little entertaining as well. But why don’t you do us a favor here, the three of us, and put a post up on your Facebook, on your social media, and just give a shout out to other parents who you think might be attracted to hanging out with us and learning how to be a better parent, better married person, better single person, by just listening to our podcast. I mean it’s free, so take advantage of it. But we’d appreciate your help. We want you to have social interest in other people and we appreciate you following us and listening to us, but help pass that along, would you? We’d appreciate it.

Doug: And to follow that up, to make it even easier for you, Revell and Baker Books, our dear friends, this week are giving away the book, The Birth Order Book on Facebook. So if you go to Dr. Kevin Lehman’s Facebook page, Dr. Kevin Leman, you can go there and there’s going to have some simple contest. Maybe it’s whoever answers the question of what birth order they’re in or whatever, then they’re randomly going to draw and send you a hard copy of The Birth Order Book. So definitely, you can go to his webpage, Dr. Kevin Leman, L-E-M-A-N, and enter there to get that.

Doug: Also, you can get Way of the Wise, buck 99. And in a week, his new book comes out, Why Your Kid Misbehaves-and What to Do About It. Cannot recommend it enough for the Dees of the world and the rest of us. Let’s get a game plan, makes all the difference in the world. So it’s a lot. It’s great to be with you guys today, and Dee, we love your question. We love everybody that leaves those audio questions. You can do that at birthorderguy.com. Great to be with you. It’s great to give you tools to love those kids more and more. We just thank you for being with us and we look forward to the next time.

Andrea: Hope you really enjoy those kids this week.

Doug: Especially those 18-months old.

Andrea: Yes, yes.

Doug: They grow up so fast.

Andrea: So sweet.

Doug: Yep. Put them in the play pen and then hold them once they’re done and just love them, love them, love them. So fun. Okay. Take care.

Andrea: Bye-bye.

Doug: Bye.