How many warnings do you give your kids before you take disciplinary action? One might just be too many. Dr. Leman discusses why warnings are disrespectful in this episode of Have a New Kid by Friday Podcast.


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Doug: Hey, Johnny, you need to pick up your room or I am going to. Hey, Sally, you have to do the dishes or else. Hey, Sally, you have to do the dishes. Sally, the dishes. Sally, the dishes. One of the most provocative things Dr. Leman told me is warnings are disrespectful, and that’s what we get to talk about today. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us. Welcome, welcome, welcome. If this happened to be your first time with us, I 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. Well, Dr. Leman, on today’s episode, we’re talking about this concept that you gave us that warnings are disrespectful. What does that mean, and what is that?

Dr. Leman: Well, we’ve trained kids systematically in our culture not to pay attention to what we say. And we essentially by warning them tell kids, “We think you’re so stupid. We have to tell you three times to do something.” If you want kids to listen, you need to be action oriented. Tell them once, walk away, let the situation, the reality of the situation become the teacher to the child. When you ask them to do something as simple as, “Honey, the dishes. Dinner’s over. You know the routine,” and they’re not done, are you going to really go and take her away from talking on her phone by the ear and drag her into the kitchen and said, “Hey, I told you, you need to do these dishes,” well, that’s a prescription for disaster.
It’s one of the first steps in creating a powerful child. It puts you in an authoritarian position, which your daughter or son is going to dig in on and rebel one way or another. But the reality is if those dishes aren’t done and you happen to drive that 11 year old daughter to school in the morning, and you haven’t said a thing and those dishes are still sitting there, and she’s 11, she can’t find her shoes. Mom, where’s my red sweater?” You know the drill in the morning, and all of a sudden she’s ready to go out the door. “Mom, mom, we’re going to be late.” “Yes, honey, we are going to be late.” “Mom, what are you talking about?” “Honey, the dishes are still sitting in the kitchen sink.”
Now, you tell me what’s better, to hound and remind that kid, or to say, “Honey, when the dishes are done, I’ll be glad to get in the car. I’ll even warm it up for you, and we’ll proceed to school.” That’s a teachable moment, my friends.

Doug: Andrea, your mom.

Andrea: Yup.

Doug: We just heard this scenario, right? Sally didn’t do the dishes. She wants to be driving to work. Could you do that? What would stop you from doing that do you think?

Andrea: Oh, it’s just natural to ask again. It’s very hard to follow through on the negative consequence of not taking them, not giving them what they’re used to getting, or whatever. Yeah, I am definitely one that’s guilty of asking more than once, or since I know this principle from Dr. Leman, I might do other subtle reminders. Maybe not outright asking.

Dr. Leman: We know.

Andrea: It’s confession time.

Dr. Leman: Again, for having authored books, like Have a New Kid by Friday and Why Children Misbehave and What to Do About It, parents who pick those books up are needy. There’s things going on in their home they don’t like. And I’ve often stood up before an audience and said, “In reference to the Have a New Kid by Friday book,” I said, “This book is a scam,” and everybody laughs. And I said, “You could have a new kid by Wednesday.” Well, what do I mean by that? I mean, it doesn’t take long to change kids’ behavior if you’ll take the proverbial bull by the horns to make it happen. There’s lots of reasons why Andrea or Sally or Jackie wouldn’t be able to pull that off.
Because number one, they haven’t had experience at pulling that kind of thing off of their kids. There’s got to be another way so she’s not late for school because I don’t like her being late for school. I know she doesn’t like being late for school. Her grades will suffer. I mean, you come up with a plethora of excuses. But again, if you really want to change your kid’s behavior, then you must be in an action oriented mood. And you have to take action. You have to stick to your guns, follow through. It doesn’t take much to turn that get around quite frankly.

Doug: I think I’ve listened to 300 plus times and many more beyond that, and you have used this phrase, and I think we need to do a podcast about, and that is you say you need to be action oriented. I now understand what that means, but here’s what we have learned to affirm that. Action orientated means you’re not verbally telling the kids. You are just doing consequences. Is that right?

Dr. Leman: Well, yeah. We’re letting the reality of the situation. In the scenario I drew for our listeners, the situation is the dishes. This goes back to a basic principle and that is B doesn’t happen until A gets completed. But if you want a better relationship with your child, you want honest communication with your child, you want your child to respect you and listen to you, I’m just asking both of you. Once that mother pulls that trigger and says, “Honey, I’d be glad to drive you down to school, but the dishes are still sitting in the sink.” Again, your kid will promise you anything. Just wipe that out of your mind because they’re shallow promises. They don’t get us to where we need to be.
We want our kids to learn to listen to us, and we need kids to be responsible in the home. If they’re not responsible in the home, folks, tell me how they’re going to be responsible in the real world?

Doug: For us, we struggle with this because we love warnings. Yet, Andrea, we just had this scenario like the dishes scenario with one of our kids. And what I realized is at the end of it, by being… I literally was having you in my head, right? This concept of don’t give warnings actions. The problem was the moment of pulling the trigger on the action is so stressful and anxious-filled, but it is way less stressful than ongoing fighting, reminding, and just that internal burn within us of like, why won’t this kid get it, that you only have to do it once. You have like this little peak of whatever, bad emotions, or whatever you want to call it, and then it’s over because you only have to do it once. Right,

Andrea? Wouldn’t you say?

Andrea: Yeah. I mean, it might be three months later that they need to have a go-around again.

Doug: But it’s not that constant.

Andrea: It’s not a constant daily thing over and over.

Doug: And Dr. Leman, I’ll be honest, we stole your idea, and that was pay the other kid to do the activity that they’re not doing. And that is like the charm. That’s like the goal. Except this time, you know what Andrea slid in? She said, “You’re going to pay me. I’m taking it out of your allowance.”

Andrea: Yeah, why not, right? I’ll take the garbage out if I get five bucks.

Dr. Leman: It’s easier to do it yourself. They’re just dishes, a mother told herself. And if a mom can’t go and chill and watch a mindless show or curl up with a good book, and when she tries to do that, she hears in the back of her mind, “The kitchen is dirty. The dishes are still there. Yuck,” and it drives some parents up the wall. And that’s why they’ll go ahead and do it themselves. But this 11 year old girl that I created for our listeners, this is a constant thing with her. Talking to her is like talking to the wall. She’s mother deaf because she knows everything you’re going to say. She’s daddy deaf too. And if you want to see that turn around, use an action oriented process as simple as B doesn’t start until A gets done.
And I guarantee you that kid will be a listener because that kid is going to suffer the real consequence of not doing what they knew they had to do, and it works. And if you don’t do that, then don’t be emailing me with all your problems with your kids. Okay? I’m telling you, this stuff is absolutely simple.

Andrea: I have a question about this because this is a real honest question where the rubber meets the road. What if telling them no to their B affects me? Like I wanted to go to this event as well, or I’m expected to be there. I mean, you could come up with a plethora of things. Then it’s hard because now all of a sudden I have to pay the consequence with them.

Dr. Leman: That’s the whole point of family. No one member is more important than the family itself. But when someone is not responsible, we end up paying for it. It’s very unfair. That’s why you go to great lengths to get that kid who’s not hitting on all eight cylinders to start paying attention to what their responsibility is in this home. I should have been a preacher. I’m preaching today.

Doug: Well, but it’s really good because I think… Here’s what I want to say again just to reinforce this concept, you only have to do this once, maybe twice, and your kids’ behavior changes. The warnings are every day and it just drives you nuts. Right, Andrea?

Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug: And you only have to do this action orientated, you don’t take them to school once, they have to walk, they don’t get to go to their friend’s house once, they don’t get to go to do some activity once, they miss movie night with the family once, and it pretty much solves itself, which feels terrible, but it’s just the actual… Andrea, wouldn’t you say it’s just the actual like moment with the child when you tell them no and you walk out the door without them that’s like the hard part?

Andrea: Yes.

Doug: And then after that, it’s kind of easy. The next day the sun comes out and the flowers bloom.

Andrea: The sun still comes up.

Dr. Leman: Okay. Let’s interject the really powerful child who when you say, “I’m not driving to school until those dishes are done, okay?” And the kid doesn’t do the dishes. Okay? What do you do? What do you do? Number one, you call school on the QT and let them know what’s going on. Then you have them call either the kid’s cell phone or the home phone. “This is Mrs. Jones from school. I’m recording you absent today. Are you ill?” Okay, that’s an 11 year old kid talking to an adult. What’s that 11 year old going to say? She’s caught off guard. In other words, what I’m saying is if a kid digs in and becomes powerful, it just stacks up on them day after day.
If they’re late, for example, let’s say the kid goes through this dog and pony show three consecutive days where you have to do this, and now they’re late three times, now she gets called out of class and gets to talk to the vice principal of the school, who’s the disciplinarian, and they’re not happy. Now the kids not only getting it at home, they’re getting it at school. Life is a series of consequences based upon our actions. And I’m just saying that, “Hey, parents, you want to turn things around. You can turn things around quickly, and you have to get to why your kid is misbehaving.” And it’s called purposeful behavior, and kids will pull your chain as long as you will allow them to pull it.
It’s easy to turn it around, but you have to be determined.

Doug: And you got to have the guts to do it, at least for me and Andrea. I shouldn’t say that for everybody. Okay. I totally forgot to tell you about a great opportunity, and I’m a little rusty here. I want to mention that there is a chance to get a great Leman book for a phenomenal price. It’s an e-book. It is Born to Win. $1.99 from now until the end of May of 2020. Dr. Leman, what is Born to Win about?

Dr. Leman: Well, it’s about those people, basically those firstborns and only children, who tend to do us middles and babies in. They out achieve us. In fact, there’s empirical studies that show that firstborn children and only born children have higher IQs than the rest of us. With that creativity and that drive to become number one and do well in school and life, sometimes there’s a price that’s paid for that as well. It’s a look basically at the patterns that firstborn and only children develop as a result of their position in the family. And they literally are born to win because almost any statue look at in terms of achievement, firstborns and only borns will outrank the rest of us.
If you’re a first born, you’re going to love this book. If you’re a last born, I wouldn’t go near it.

Doug: And if you’re a parent of a firstborn, it’ll probably be helpful to read it to know what they’re thinking, if you’re not a firstborn themselves.

Dr. Leman: Good point. Yeah.

Doug: Yeah. Alrighty. And now before we do role playing on this concept, a no nonsense moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: The last time we talked about acceptance and how important it is, well, let me give you the B part, belonging. Your kid is going to belong somewhere, and it’s really important that they identify with a home that’s a safety net, okay? Every kid is going to belong somewhere. And if they don’t fit into the home, they’re going to go out and fit out the peer group. And again, that’s going to be a negative experience. To give you a little heads up, acceptance, belonging, and next time we’re going to talk about competence, those are the building blocks of rearing a self-reliant, confident kit. What have you done today to make your kid feel like they belong? You’ve made them clean the garage. I liked that idea.
See, that’s part of it. It’s just not a free ride. It’s everybody gives back to the family as well. And remember, no one member of the family is better than the family itself. So A and B. Listen, next time, we’ll do C.

Doug: Okay. Dr. Leman, let’s do a quick role play so that parents can actually hear how you would deal with the situation. We have a 14 year old who is not cleaning their room. Well, you wouldn’t do a cleaning room. We’ll do… What should we do, Andrea?

Andrea: Fourteen-year-old?

Doug: That’s responsible to…

Andrea: To take out the trash.

Doug: Take out the trash. 14 year old is responsible to take out the trash. They play basketball, and they’ve been invited over to a birthday party at a friend’s house. So they do both of those. I’ll let you choose which one you want to do. It’s the evening. It’s after school. They’re there.

Andrea: The garbage truck comes tomorrow morning.

Doug: No, the garbage truck has come and gone, and he didn’t take the trash out.

Andrea: He didn’t do it.

Doug: He didn’t take the trash out. I am the 14 year old, and I hop up and I say, “Alrighty, dad. Let’s go. Here we go.”

Dr. Leman: James, I’d love to help you. But first of all, I need to tell you how really disappointed I am in what you did, or to put it more bluntly, what you didn’t do last night. There’s not a person in our home, even our six year old can tell you that Monday is garbage day. Okay? And it’s still sitting there in the garage. And quite frankly, it stinks, and I am very unhappy. In terms of you going anywhere, you’re not going anywhere. Okay? This is very disappointing. In fact, until that garbage is dealt with, I wouldn’t plan on going anywhere. That’s a blunt statement and I drop it right there. You’re not going anywhere.

Doug: Hey, dad.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, go ahead.

Doug: Hey, dad. Hey, dad. Wow. You know, I’m so sorry. I really wanted to get the trash out, and yet I had that big project for school I had to get done and basketball was really hard. I mean, I was tired. Coach just ran us ragged. You know what? Hey, dad, how about you help me find a way? Could we create a system so this doesn’t happen again? That would be great.

Dr. Leman: Honey, you have very few jobs in this house. One of them is the garbage detail. I know it’s not the best job in the world, but you are the oldest and that is your job. I want to tell you as plainly and lovingly as I can, I’m not solving this problem. This isn’t my problem. It’s your problem. You figure out a way to deal with that trash.

Doug: Okay. Here’s what I’ll do, I’ll make sure it’s out there on Saturday. This coming Saturday I’ll like put a huge note in my phone and a big thing right by my bed that says “trash this Saturday,” and I’ll have it done, Dad. I’ve got it. Great. I’ve got it solved. Can we go?

Dr. Leman: Go out in the garage and just take a whiff. What is that going to smell like by Saturday?

Doug: How in the world am I going to do anything with that?

Dr. Leman: I have no idea how you’re going to deal with it, but you’re going to deal with it, not me.

Doug: But dad, that’s like not until Monday. That’s like six days away.

Dr. Leman: You know what? You’re a creative kid. You figure it out.

Doug: Dad, that’s like so unfair. This is like totally wrong.

Dr. Leman: Honey, I’m preparing you for life. Life isn’t fair.

Doug: I hate you. Fine. All my friends are going to think I’m weird now, dad, and I’m just going to be called a loser. And you don’t care.

Dr. Leman: You can think what you want to think. I’m telling you the garbage is your problem. You deal with it. Use that creative brain that God gave you to figure out how to take care of that garbage because it can’t wait until Saturday, obviously.

Doug: Hey, mom. Hey, mom. Can I talk to you for a moment?

Dr. Leman: Coward. Here’s the point, what I’m thinking when I’m saying, “Hey, you can solve this,” he probably has friends. They might even be in the same block or two that have a different garbage service. Depending upon where you live, sometimes the city picks up the garbage. Where the Leman’s live, I know in our neighborhood there’s three different trash companies that come and pick up your trash. I mean, if you want to be real creative-

Andrea: He should make a deal with his friend.

Dr. Leman: Yeah. Put this on the kid. Don’t let them slip away. Again, if you want that kid to be responsible, you have to teach him responsibility. You have to hold them accountable. I love parents who give all the lip service to that. Oh, we love holding our kid accountable until they have to, and then they find reasons to bail them out, make excuses for them.

Doug: Andrea, do you think you could have… If our kid hadn’t done the trash, could you have said this, “You’re not doing anything. You’re not leaving the house until that’s solved.”

Andrea: Well, I know I haven’t. How’s that for an answer?

Dr. Leman: You’re being a different partner there. You have the sweetest, easiest, softest hearted woman in the State of Oregon.

Doug: That’s so awesome, Andrea. You’re the best.

Dr. Leman: You need a lady wrestler.

Andrea: I have a question though. In that scenario, the assumption is this kid knows this is his chore, right? It’s on his chore list, and sometimes we ask our kids to do something and you just say it once and walk away. But if it’s already on their chore list and they haven’t… Like dishes, for example, and you’re headed to bed, you see them heading to bed. You know they know they’re supposed to do the dishes. Is this say at once and walk away principle still valid? Can I say, “Hey Johnny, I noticed you haven’t done the dishes yet today.”

Doug: That’s a reminder. That’s a warning.

Andrea: Look, Doug even has the answer for me.

Doug: Sorry, Dr. Leman.

Andrea: Softhearted Andrea is just checking.

Dr. Leman: She is so easy. Yeah, no.

Andrea: At that point, if they know it’s on their chore list, you shouldn’t say anything at all, right?

Dr. Leman: Let’s talk about a list for a second. I think a family calendar is a great thing. For example, if you get one of those big calendars and you put it either at a central location where everybody has access to it, or better yet, if you can find one, you can append to your refrigerator door. I even liked that better because kids are always going in the refrigerator, so is mom and dad. And like garbage days, if it’s Friday in your home, every month that Friday could have a yellow hue to it as a reminder to whoever the garbage person is that garbage needs to be out on the street on Friday morning. Those kinds of reminders, I like them because it’s a family calendar that James has soccer and Anna’s got something else.
It’s difficult with the busy world we live in just to keep up with our own children. But again, the home is primary and that’s our teaching mantle, if you will, for our kids. And so these things shouldn’t be taken lightly, and the good guy or good girl in us that wants to help our children out sometimes gets in the way of them really learning to be responsible. And that’s what you have to guard against. For those of you who are new to our podcast, you’re thinking, “Man, this guy Leman, he’s like a military guy.” Well, no, that’s not true. I got a great heart. I got a great relationship with my kids. They’re all responsible kids and then some, but they were held accountable, and I was not afraid to pull a rug out.
I let them tumble when they needed to tumble, and that’s part of being a parent. If you think it’s not, then you’re probably not going to enjoy the rest of these podcasts.

Doug: I really appreciate you wrapping up with that, and I just want to echo it. Since we’ve implemented these changes, by actions and not warnings, I think our relationship has gone up, not down. And that our kids love us more, not less. Just like Dr. Leman said, because we treat them better actually. It sounds counterintuitive, but I want to affirm that 100%. Warnings wear us all out. Well, thank you for listening with us today. A quick reminder, go get Born to Win, if you have a first born or if you are a firstborn, for a $1.99 between now and the end of May of 2020. And we love doing this with you. And as always, you can go to, or see where Dr. Leman is going to be speaking.
And we just look forward to the next time we get to be with you and add to that parenting toolbox. Hope you have a fabulous and wonderful day.

Andrea: Have a good day.

Doug: Bye bye.