It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman! How would you handle your 6-year-old if you knew they were leading a group of kids to treat other kids poorly? After getting complaints from parents, the school calls you to deal with it. Find out how Dr. Leman answers this question on today’s episode.
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Doug: Imagine this. You’re at dinner with your wife and your daughter and your two other kids, and the phone rings, and it’s the teacher informing you that your child is the ringleader of a clique that is going around and verbally pushing other kids out of the circle and beyond that, saying really mean things, and that other parents are calling about how mean your child is. What would you do? How would you respond? That’s the question that Heidi asked, that we get to ask Dr. Leman today and get the answer.
Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: I’m Andrea.
Doug: We are so glad that you are with us today on this October day, or whenever you’re listening to this. We want to let you know that if this is your first time, this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter is in any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help.
Doug: I’ve said it before and we love it. Go to http://www.birthorderguy.com and you can leave your podcast questions there. Http://www.birthorderguy.com. We love them, we love knowing what you guys are dealing with and answering it, and are really glad that Heidi left this one. This is a little different, about, how do I deal with the kid. So let’s hear Heidi’s question.
Heidi: Hi, Dr. Leman. This is Heidi from Virginia. I have a six-year-old daughter in kindergarten who is the youngest of three and the only girl. I have just been informed by her teacher that she’s become the class clique leader and in not a good way. She gets jealous and mean when other kids want to play with her select group of friends, even saying mean things such as, “Can’t you see? We don’t care.”
Heidi: Another parent has called the teacher to discuss my daughter’s treatment of their child. I’m at loss on how to deal with this. I’ve talked to her about it. I think she’s getting through, but sometimes I just feel like it’s not sinking in. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.
Dr. Leman: Wow. Let me get this straight. Little six year old, Atilla, that would be Heidi’s daughter, is verbally assaulting other kids in the classroom to the point where parents are calling teacher and now teacher’s calling and saying, “Hey listen, your kid is monster-like in the classroom.” And Heidi says, “Help Dr. Leman, Lehman, help.
Dr. Leman: Well I heard the child is the youngest of three kids, right? Did I hear that right?
Andrea: And the only girl. Yes.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. So I asked each of us to think this thing through for a minute. Where did that domineering personality come from? The kid’s six years old. Now class listen carefully, when is personality formed in a child’s life? Within the first what? Five or six years. So if you look at children as wet cement, it’s pretty hardened by age six. My question is, how did a kid get so demanding and powerful by age six, and if she’s got a couple other brothers, it making me think that that environment that she grew up in, she either feels like she has to fight for everything. That she gets ignored or she’s been placated so much and given full reign to call the shots.
Dr. Leman: Now we’re looking at the finished product of acquiescing to her power struggles. Now, what we didn’t hear from mom, is this a kid who through power tantrums, temper tantrums? Is this a kid that demanded that things were just exactly right or she didn’t proceed? Did she hold the family hostage from the youngest position of the family? When I usually see this scenario of a kid who’s really being abusive verbally and all that to other kids, usually you find them right on top of the family. The first born. Who was the closest one to the power-driven parent.
Dr. Leman: Again, I make the point that she’s a powerful child. Kids don’t just get powerful without experiencing power in their home. So either mom or dad has been too authoritarian or she has just felt the weight of the two older brothers. I don’t know how successful or how compliant they are, but my guess would be that they might be compliant for boys.
Dr. Leman: Pardon the generalizations here ladies, on men and young women, but they are different and to see this scenario, youngest child only daughter, is a little unusual. Now let’s get to problem at hand.
Dr. Leman: Number one, you have to realize, Heidi, you are unable to control what happens in that classroom. You have to give the school full authority in dealing with your daughter. How many PTOs have you gone to parents and you heard a school administrator say something like, “We want to partner with a home. We want to work together with you for the betterment of your child.” Well, here’s an opportunity to do that.
Dr. Leman: Again, you can’t control what goes in the classroom, but as soon as little Atilla begins one of her nasty snarky little tirades, she needs to be plucked from the classroom, and put in a thinking chair for lack of a better term. There needs to be a very prescriptive ABC program, how we’re going to follow up with this. In other words, when she starts, she goes to the thinking chair. After a reasonable period of time, teacher asks little Atilla, “Are you ready to join us?” She says, “Yes.” She comes back in and within two minutes she’s back at it again. Bingo.
Dr. Leman: Next move is she’s out of the classroom period. Okay? Keep in mind I’m a guy that really believes in what I call reality discipline, which means the teacher is the authority in the classroom. A teacher can deal with it in the classroom, but since she’s being so disruptive to everybody, you have to remove her from the scene.
Dr. Leman: So step B is remove her from the scene. That means you have to call the office, get somebody to come down and watch your class, walk her down there, or have somebody come down and get her and she deals with a second person, the assistant principal or whatever. If that doesn’t make an impact on the kid and the kid comes back an hour later and we’re right back to square one again, where she’s engaging in that combative behavior, then I would have the child call home from the school office and say, “I don’t know how to behave like a kindergarten scholar and you need to come pick me up now.”
Dr. Leman: It’s an ABC quick approach. It says, the school is not going to tolerate this behavior. Now it gets slam dunked back to who? Back to mom. Mom, you can only deal with what happens in the home. So you can tell your daughter how very unhappy you are, how disappointed you are in the fact that you had to come down to school and get her. You had to leave work, you had to do this, that whatever the situation is, and you have to have the look and the demeanor that I am one unhappy lady.
Dr. Leman: I would suggest that your six year old kindergarten daughter … I mean she ought to had maturity. She’s six, she’s in the kindergarten, so she’s not on the light side. She’s not on the immature side of things. She’s on the older edge of things. She ought to be able to handle this. But again, I think you need to have a heart to heart with yourself and your husband assuming you have a husband, and figure out what are we doing or what have. we done to create such a powerful child.
Dr. Leman: Remember, the powerful child says, I only count life when I dominate, when I win, when I control. That ends up being a really lousy adult someday, a lousy marital mate, a lousy person to be around. So the stakes are high. But rather than drag this out, I would do the ABC, and if it works out in one day, it certainly should get six year old’s attention, that school is no longer going to tolerate your mouth.
Dr. Leman: Who’s in charge of the kid’s mouth? She is. Nobody else is. This is something where she is going to be literally forced to make a decision to either make my life a little easier as a six year old or continue to do battle. So I’d love some followup on this one Heidi, and let us know if you are able to work with a home and school together and see what the immediate results are. But this is a powerful child.
Andrea: So what if the school doesn’t want to follow this prescribed ABC pattern that you’ve lined out for us?
Dr. Leman: Then as a parent, I would say, “Listen, thank you for letting me know about Atilla’s behavior. My husband and I wish you the best at dealing with this difficult problem.”
Andrea: Oh, that’s right.
Dr. Leman: You’ve taken the tennis ball life, you’ve thrown it back in the court. Okay, you deal with it. I can’t deal with it from home. If you’re not willing to do something on your end, I don’t know where we win here. Seems only one that wins is my powerful daughter. If it escalates to physical pushing, shoving, hitting, injuring other kids, school districts pay all kinds of attention to that, because they’re all afraid they’re going to get a call from an attorney, from some overly zealous parent who wants to sue the school district. That’s a tougher question than it appears, but something’s amiss there.
Doug: Before I ask my question, I want to make sure I get this in, which is totally applicable to what we’re talking about. That the ebook promotion is Planet Middle School from November 1st to November 11th of 2019 for a $1.99.
Doug: Dr. Leman, here we are talking about problems with kids, how does Planet Middle School help us in raising our middle school kids?
Dr. Leman: Today you can go on Amazon and look at the reviews of Planet Middle School. It’s not one of my top sellers. The top, I mean top three, but there’s 64 Leman books out there now. But if you look at the reviews, it’s a five-star rated book on Amazon, and of course the parent that’s going to buy that book essentially is the one who’s got a kid going into the sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, somewhere in there. But that book is a gem. Oh my goodness. It’s a $1.99 download. My goodness. Download it, read it. It’s going to show you how to deal with this alien who one day all of a sudden showed up in your home, and you’re asking your husband or your wife, where did our sweet little 11-12 year old go? What happened? What did she drink or eat that changed it, because they do change quickly and they get in this middle school age. It’s a fun age.
Dr. Leman: This book gives you some practical ways of rolling with the many behavioral changes that you’re going to see and hear from your pubescent adolescent’s mouth.
Doug: So get it now. November 1 through 11, 2019 only a $1.99 Planet Middle School. If you have a third, fourth, fifth grader, highly recommend, get it so you know what you’re walking into and it doesn’t just all of a sudden you’re having to react to it. You want to respond and know what you’re walking into.
Dr. Leman: Along that line, I like what you’re saying. If your kid’s in fourth grade, it’s a great time to read that book. Just like, Have A New Teenager by Friday, I make the statement frequently, that the teenage years start around age 11. That’s not a teenager at age 11 or 12, but the way kids are growing up today, and the fact that we’ve decided to put Goliath in that kid’s hand at such an early age, and that would be the cell phone by the way, kids are just growing up so darn quick. So get ahead of the game.
Dr. Leman: You see a highway signs that say, “Warning, curves ahead.” I’ve got news for you parent, it’s a mountainous road and there’s a lot of curves, so be prepared. That’s a good book to read. Planet Middle School, get it.
Doug: Now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: Parents love the old time out. They love, you’re grounded. They love taking away privileges. I won’t go into the feared time out. I’ll tell you this about grounding. If you’re going to ground a kid, ground them, ground them from everything. He goes no place for two days. Give him a 48-hour grounding. What do you mean he goes no place? He goes no place. He stays in the home without privileges. It’s a school day, Leman. He doesn’t go to school either. He makes it up. It’s Sunday. He doesn’t go to church either, he stays home. If you’re going to do that. If you’re going to do grounding, do a 48-hour grounding, they won’t like it, trust me. You may not like either, but that’s a whole other question.
Dr. Leman: Taking away privileges. I want to talk to you about taking away privileges. It is a privilege to live in a home, to live in a country as ours, where we still have some freedoms left, seems like. But taking away privileges many times is done in anger. Whenever you do things in anger that’s not good. The problem is it builds a mindset in a child depending upon how you do it, if you have the right to put me down than I have the right to put you down, and you get in that proverbial power struggle.
Dr. Leman: Rather than take privileges away, and again, kids always want to do things, they always want to be driven to the mall, they always want money, they want to go to a movie, they want to go down to Game Stop and hang out with their buddies. Whatever that is, you can take away the privilege without getting in to the dog and pony show of, all right no more privileges.
Dr. Leman: This gets back to, how do you handle things? Your son says to you, “Mom, would you run me down the mall? We’re going to meet a bunch of guys down there at the video place. We’re going to shoot some video games today.” “No honey, I really don’t feel like driving you today.” And walk away. He’ll come after you, “Mom, what do you mean? Everybody’s going to be there. I need to leave right now.” “Honey, I just told you, mom is not very happy today. I don’t feel like driving anywhere.”
Dr. Leman: What have you done? You’ve taken away the privilege. You haven’t said, “Hey, I’m not driving you anywhere, young man.” But you put an action, a plan that says things are not well in river city. And what I want that young son to understand at age 14 or whatever, that his mouth, his actions has a direct result on the privileges. There’s that word. That he has in this home. The privileges of being driven by a mom who’s kind enough to drive six miles one way so you could have some fun. Do you see what I’m saying? Rather than just be ruled dominated, be relationship dominated. Where you’re sending the message, the relationship between you and me is a strained right now.
Dr. Leman: What has to happen for that relationship to get back on top? It might take at least the next day, because I’ve said many times that kid might be very perceptive and figure out that his mouthiness in the morning just earned him the non-trip to the mall to see his buddies, and he might cuddle up to mom and say, “Oh mom, I’m sorry about what I said.” Right then and there he thinks, I’m at the mall. I said I’m sorry, mom’s going to forgive me, I’m at the mall.
Dr. Leman: No. Parents, always give it a day. When a kid does something, he apologizes. You accept that apology, you move on. But he gets vitamin N for the rest of the day. No matter what he wants to do, it’s, “No honey, I really don’t feel like doing that right now. I’m having a bad day.” Say whatever you want to say. But he’ll be able to connect the dots. Let him see that his behavior influences your behavior, and you want to work toward getting that on a healthy line and not an unhealthy one.
Doug: All right Dr Leman, I’m going to ask the uncomfortable question. So this kid is six years old, the primary influence in her life has been the people that she lives with in her own home. So if I’m Heidi, I don’t want to, but I should probably put a mirror up and look at the adults that are residing in that house, because that’s who’s influenced her. How do I do that? How do I swallow my pride and say, did I contribute to this?
Dr. Leman: Well I think as husband and wife you have to look at each other and say, “My goodness, hearing Leman’s answer was hurtful and a little scary, and I think we both have to look at each other, at ourselves and say, what have we done in the past to help create this kind of behavior in a six year old kid?” I think it’s very matter of fact. You both assume responsibility.
Dr. Leman: Here’s a thought for you parent. What child in your family do you butt heads with the most? Is it A, the one that’s most different from you? Or B, the one most like you? Those of you who guessed B, the one most like you, you get a Tootsie pop, a parental Tootsie pop, because you’re right. So it’s the sameness in us that creates the friction and the headbanging so to speak.
Dr. Leman: I think parents are just wise to take a look at themselves. Look back at age three, do you see where you caved in to her demands? Or age four, the special way she demanded to be treated? Now, if none of this is true in your life, you have a gut check and you say, “Well I don’t think so, I think we’ve held her accountable, we haven’t gone too far left or too far right, we think we’ve used what you call reality discipline in a very well balanced way,” then you might want to look further into this kid. You might want to have someone do a psychological workup on a kid, even at age six, because something’s amiss. A kid should not be full of that much venom at age six. There’s got to be some reasons for that.
Doug: Well, this is Doug Terpening’s passion, this is why I’m begging everyone who’s listening to this, go get the book, Have A New Kid by Friday and read it, so that when Dr Leman says, “Am I applying reality discipline?” You get a chance to look at that and go, “Oh, I am.” And you can start to remove obstacles that are just unnecessary in parenting. It’s easy, but it’s hard, I think is how Dr Leman says it. So for you.
Doug: Then for Heidi or anybody else who has a kid that you think is just this strong-willed, go get the book, Parenting Your Powerful Child. Right? Please for your own sake. Really for the child’s sake too. Those are two great options for you to get, and please, please, please, don’t just sweep them under the carpet, but hold the mirror up and look at yourself. It’s painful and it’s hard, but then you’re happy.
Doug: Okay. Now I’ve gone to preaching haven’t I Andrea? I should stop.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. You know Doug, I can hear a parent saying, “Well, my child’s not powerful. In fact, she’s very quiet. She’s very shy. She’s very sensitive.” Hey parent, that’s why Doug is telling you to read Parenting Your Powerful Child, because that shy, seemingly helpless sometimes child, very sensitive as you like to say, is actually a very powerful child, that you have to tippy toe around.
Dr. Leman: So when Doug says, read this, he’s not trying to sell you a book, okay? At $1.99 download, trust me, nobody’s getting wealthy on you plucking down a $1.99. But what you’re buying in that book, quite frankly, is solid gold. That book rocks. It gives parents an opportunity to get behind your child’s eyes and see the maladaptive behavior and thinking that’s going on in your kid’s mind. So you want to deal with that upfront as best you can. So anyway, for what it’s worth.
Doug: And again, I know we’re way out of field here from what Heidi’s question is, but I’ll tell you the other benefit, it helps you in other relationships. Once you can start to look at yourself and you start to realize how to parent better, you realize, “Oh, I do these same things to my spouse.” And you’re like, “Hm, maybe that’s why it’s not as well.” Okay, I’ll stop. It just makes life better. I’m done.
Doug: So Dr Leman, in conclusion, for Heidi, and helping all those parents out there, let me make sure I get this right. A, I call the school and say, “School, I’m 100% behind you. I am with you. This is your issue in the classroom. Discipline her. Here’s our suggestions. And if you do it, you’re not going to hear any complaints from us. We’re with you. We’ve got your back.
Doug: And if they call back and say a week later, “We can’t do that.” Then you say, “It’s your issue. She’s in school, this is what you’re paid to do.” And then the other step at home, I am looking at myself, I’m talking to my husband, if he’s there or my boyfriend, and we’re like, “What are we doing to contribute to this problem?” Did I get that right?
Dr. Leman: Yes, you got an A.
Andrea: Good job.
Doug: Alrighty. Thank you Heidi for your question, and thank all of you for joining us for this episode. We hope that it helps you again, just be able to add to your parenting toolbox so that you have the freedom just to love those kids the way that you hope to, because you know you’re doing what’s best for them. So until we get to see you again-
Andrea: Have a great week.
Doug: Take care. Bye-bye.