It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman! Listen in to find out how Dr. Leman give Ellen tips on how to defend against a “Teenage Punk Attitude Attack.”
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Doug: Oh my baby boy’s and angel. And then he turned 14 and now he is got a teenage punk attitude. That’s the question that Ellen said, “Dr. Leman, how could this have happened to my angel baby boy?” And we get here, Dr. Leman’s answer today.
Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening and I’m Andrea and we are so glad that you are with us today and it is a joy to be with you to add to that parenting toolbox. And I want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or child, please go seek a local professional for help.
Doug: So Dr. Leman, we get an audio question today, which I absolutely love. And everybody, you can go to birthorderguy.com and go to podcast questions and leave them there. Or if you don’t find that, you could also look at the various episodes you can go to birthorderguy.com/, like this one is 309 and at the bottom there’s a microphone and you can leave your question there. But today’s I love because she says, “My kid has a punk attitude.” So let us jump in to see what Ellen has to say.
Ellen: Dr. Leman, I would like to know how to han … my oldest son who’s just always been so tenderhearted, kind, sweet, will talk to me and share his heart. Wants to always be a help, but he turned 13. Well, he’s going on 14 he’ll be 14 in a few months. But ever since he turned about the time he turned 13, maybe a little bit before, he’s gradually gotten worse with just an attitude in a, just a disrespectful instead of just kindly obeying, which I know kids don’t always obey perfectly all the time, but he can be really rude and say mean cutting things to me and I don’t quite know what to do and how to punish him for that.
Ellen: How do you advise taking care of this teenage punk attitude, when I tell him, tell him things I want him to do or accomplish around the house and him saying, “You just want to make me miserable. You don’t want me to have any fun. You don’t want me to have any time.” Just saying just mean things and if I forget to do something that I told him that I would do and I maybe didn’t get around to it because I had taken care of his three younger brothers, said “You’re a liar, you told me you would do that,” just stuff like that, that’s just not really him or who he used to be anyway. And I don’t quite know what to do with it and how to handle it. I think he’s getting too old to necessarily spank and I just don’t know how to handle it.
Dr. Leman: Well I appreciate that question. I don’t blame you for saying, “I don’t know how to handle it,” because you’ve been thrown a tremendous curve ball. You’ve got this sweet kid, he talks to you, you got a good relationship, all of a sudden at 13 there’s a beginning of a change and it’s gotten worse. And it’s gotten worse because you haven’t known what to do. And it’s a tough thing to do as a parent. The things that he says and his snarky punk attitude probably makes you feel like second guessing yourself and, “What have I created?” And, “Is this my fault?” And those are questions that go through a woman’s head. And again, it’s a very special relationship between a mommy and a son, so I can see why you’re feeling the way you are. But his cutting remarks, his meanness, his disrespectful attitude are a product of a couple of things.
Dr. Leman: First of all, he’s going through a growth period in his life where hormones are changing. He’s physically changing. He has gone from a little boy into a young man. And I think part of what’s going on, he’s sort of sorting out, are the things that mom has taught me about life, are they true? He’s trying to figure out where he fits in. I mean, ask everybody who’s got a kid 13 or 14, ask yourself this question. Who would your child like to be? That’s the question, I want you all to answer it in your mind. Okay? You got an answer? Let me give you my answer. Anybody but him or her. It’s that time where the identity of who they are is being challenged by themselves. They’re trying to figure it all out.
Dr. Leman: I wrote a book once called Running the Rapids and I like the title because if you’ve ever been in a little float boat of sorts and gone through rapids, you know that before the rapids there’s this wonderful calm water and you’re just sitting in your little two-man floater and you’re enjoying the picturesque surroundings. It’s peaceful and quiet. Well that’s sort of a word picture of your son before his 13th birthday. Things were sailing along fine and all of a sudden you get in the rapids and man, you’re hanging on, you’re, you’re a white knuckling it and then you hit the calm again.
Dr. Leman: And so kids at that age, “Mom, what are we having for dinner?” “Chicken.” “Chicken, you know I hate chicken, I hate chicken.” And you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, four nights ago the kid had six pieces of chicken. I was wanting to know where he was putting it. Certainly couldn’t be in his stomach.” But see, they’re extreme at that point. “You never let me do this.” In fact, I’m quoting you, “You just want to make me miserable.” Now to be practical with you, the next time he says, “You just want to make me miserable,” just look at him and say, “Wow, bingo. You guessed it. I was put on this earth to make your life miserable.” This is progress. Okay?
Dr. Leman: His snarkiness, his inability to do simple things you ask, now you’re asking me, “Hey, I don’t know what to do about it,” and I’m beginning to tell you what to do about it. When things aren’t done, one of the principles is, B doesn’t start until A gets completed. If you drive that kid to school, for example, and he hasn’t done something the day before or the night of, the next morning, don’t be moving. Be sitting there looking at your computer. “Mom, we got to go.” “Go where?” “Mom? What are you talking about? I got to be the school. It’s 10 to eight. We got to leave.” “Honey, I see you haven’t done your work from last night yet.” Now, what you said is, “I see you haven’t done your work from last night yet.” Now again, he’s going to get mad, he’s going to be like a fish on a dock. He’s going to be flopping around. He’s doing something very unnatural because you’ve throw him a curve ball. But you’re going to stick to your guns and you’re not driving him to school until that work gets done.
Dr. Leman: “Well, Dr. Leman, he’s going to be an hour late for school.” So be it, but email the school or call the school and tell them he’s going to be late and ask that assistant principal to haul him in to the office and say, “Hey, what gives?” And tell them, tell the principal he has no reason to be late for school. It’s an unexcused absence. Let them deal with it they want to. Keep the tennis ball life in his court.
Dr. Leman: And so don’t feel like you have to do anything for this 14 year old kid. I think what you’re seeing is normal behavior. It’s not respectful behavior, but it’s normal for a lot of kids who are going through this sorting out process of adolescence. But my only caution would be if you see in your kid’s behavior a change in friends, a drastic change in dress, grades that just fall off the table, cutting school, antisocial things, any sign of cutting or anything like that. If you don’t see that, then I would write this off as, “Hey, welcome to the rocky rapids of adolescence.” And you’ll have some rough spots, but you’ll hit the calm. You’ll hear, “Mom, I love you,” and you’re going to hear, “Mom, you’re the worst mom that could ever be here. You’re trying to make my life miserable.” So don’t overreact. Learn to respond, walk out, get away, take care of yourself, but don’t take any guff. Don’t take any lip from him at all. So if he’s disrespectful, B doesn’t happen until A gets completed. Well, what’s A in that situation? He needs to come around without your urging and apologize to you. So that’s starters. Now we’ll go to our resident parents and see what they seem to think on this one.
Doug: So Dr. Leman, on the last podcast, we were asking, how do I know when it’s misbehavior and when it’s just something else? And I think for a lot of parents we want to excuse bad behavior as something else. So in this question, I think, for me I’m like, how do I know when this 14 year old boy has crossed this line that it’s not just, “I’m changing and all that.”
Dr. Leman: The etiology of this, okay, comes from adolescence. He’s undergoing all kinds of physical and emotional changes in his life. So there is a reason for the behavior. But here’s what I want people to hear. That’s not an excuse to bad-mouth his mother or be disrespectful to his mother or rude to his mother. So you still deal with the behavior, the rudeness, the snarkiness, whatever it is, the disrespect. You still deal with that, even though you realize that the basis of this behavior is probably physiological, hormonal to a large degree. So what I’m saying, you still don’t accept the behavior.
Doug: So, I just can’t, I’ll be honest, I don’t think nowadays parents could do that. What I mean by that is wait, wait, wait, if it’s because he’s becoming a teenager, there’s my reason and excuse to let it happen. And I just figure, “Okay, that’s the teenage years and it’ll work itself out eventually.” But you’re telling me no, no, no, you deal with the disrespect and the snarky. Why would I?
Dr. Leman: Well, 14 to 25 is a long time, Doug, so you’re not going to tolerate it. You’re going to deal with the behavior.
Doug: Ah, then it’s not just going to change as he gets out of the teenage years, this snarky and how he treats mom and disrespects her.
Dr. Leman: In all probability, since this kid had a good relationship with his mom, a closeness to his mom, he’s probably going to end up a great son. But you still don’t excuse the behavior because he’s a pubescent or an adolescent.
Doug: Yeah. To add to that, since we’ve changed our parenting style from me being super-authoritarian and Andrea being permissive, now that we have, our son’s been gone for three years serving abroad and had some really hard things happen to him, and he had to lead other kids, actually. He’s come back and said, “Mom and dad, when you confronted me, when you dealt with these issues, I didn’t like it at the time, but now I appreciate it more than ever.” And he is way hanging out with us. Right Andrea?
Andrea: Very much so. Yeah.
Dr. Leman: Brag about your kid for just a minute, because I think it’s important for people to see that when kids go away, and two of your kids are doing some extraordinary things right now, and they get to meet other kids and they hear other kids’ stories about their own families, for example. “Wow. These old people, Doug and Andrea, their stock just went sky high.” It’s like gold prices.
Doug: Well, and that was my point is by us not sweeping this under the carpet when he was a teenager at our house, and it was uncomfortable at times and difficult, we have reaped the rewards now. Wouldn’t you say Andrea?
Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Doug: Yeah, I mean, it’s crazy. The great, wonderful, deep, connected conversations we have with our kids now, both of them, because of those hard conversations. And yet in love, we did it. So this is where I think you’re the one that wanted to bring up the question last week. What is misbehaving and what is expectations? Which is why I think your new book is so good. Why Do Kids Misbehave and What You’re Supposed to do About it. And this is what you have given the gift to Andrea and Doug Terpening is we’re able to see now what was misbehaving in our teenagers and what was just allowing us to ignore it and let it go by and to not power up and get in their sails.
Doug: And again, this book is so easy to read that you should get it. So. Okay for those that want, you should go buy that book on May 5th, Why Your Kids Misbehave, so that you don’t end up in these kinds of situations and can have great kids. But for today you can get The Way of the Wise for $1.99 Between now and April 30th of 2020. Dr. Leman, what is the book The Way of the Wise about?
Dr. Leman: Well, I always say books are like kids, they’re all different. But this is one of my favorite kids. There was a guy named King Solomon who was the brightest, smartest, wisest king of all. And in the Book of Proverbs, Proverbs three, I love that little chapter. And in a few verses I pulled 10 little principles for living life well. And it’s a book that I would suggest, okay parents, if you have a kid, a teenager, a college student, this is a great book for an adult, but it’s a great book for those kids that are sorting things out now, and trying to figure out what life’s all about, and is what I learned in church and Sunday school true? And what mom has taught me, is it true? All those things are going on.
Dr. Leman: This is a wonderful little book. It’s an inspirational book. It’s very auto-biographical. It’s part of my coming to faith and, again, remember I was a guy that didn’t want anything to do with God. I mean my mom dragged me to church, but I had no relationship with God and I think it’s a fun look at serious issues and I’ll give you one little tidbit. The scripture says. “And He will direct your paths.” I like to point out to the reader that it doesn’t say path, singular, it’s plural. Your paths. You and Andrea have not had just one path in life. You’ve had multiple paths in life. We all do. And it’s a book that makes you really sort of rethink where you are in faith.
Dr. Leman: It’s a great book to give to someone who’s struggling with faith, but it’s one of my little favorites. When I go to a church and I do church weekends. In fact, I had somebody ask me yesterday, “Well, with your busy schedule, do you have time to do?” And this is a lady who lives in Chicago. I said, “Listen, talk to people in your church, have them call Debbie, my assistant, and I’ll come running to your church.” I love doing church weekends. But when I go to that church I go on a Sunday morning, my preference is to start the conference by having me speak in church. And those guys that are sort of on the outside looking in in they’re not sure where they are, they figured out real quickly that I’m not a stiff. Because that sermon’s going to be alive.
Dr. Leman: But it’s based on this little book, The Way of the Wise. And I can always tell by the book table how that message is received. And whenever I bring The Way of the Wise to a seminar, they’re cleaned out, they’re cleaned out before the seminar kicks in half the time. I can hardly keep that book in stock. It’s a good little book. So I can’t tell you enough. You can download that, what is it? $1.99, is that what it is?
Doug: $1.99 between now and the end of April of 2020.
Dr. Leman: Oh Boy, yeah. We’ll do it.
Doug: So get it before it’s gone. You only got a couple of weeks, so go for it. So now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: Okay, this one’s going to hurt. Perfectionism is slow suicide. Some of you parents are perfectionistic, you know who you are. You worry, you even put your own efforts down even when they’re pretty good because there’s one flaw in the project or the thing that you’ve made or the entertaining you did. That critical eye can just defeat you, but worse than that, it can defeat everybody around you. So rather than look for the negative, if you’re one of those people, just try to catch yourself. Catch yourself from commenting on the one thing that’s a little out of shape or a little out of line or a little off, and concentrate on what your son or daughter has achieved. Learn to say things like, “Nice job, good job. Honey, it looks like all that time you put into that project’s really paying off. Congratulations.” Watch that negative eye. I’m telling you, it spawns negativity in your child all the way down the line.
Andrea: Okay. So Dr. Leman, back to Ellen, if she is able to kind of change how she’s treating her son at this point, how long will it take for her to see a change in his attitude?
Dr. Leman: There’s almost a one-to-one relationship, Andrea, between when she starts doing things differently. Again, I don’t know, maybe Ellen’s a single mom, I don’t know. If she is, we didn’t mention other kids in the family. Maybe she’s a single mom with one child.
Andrea: I think she said she has three other boys under him.
Dr. Leman: Oh, under him. So he’s the oldest. Okay.
Andrea: So this is top of four boys, yeah.
Dr. Leman: So more reason to contain his behavior by healthy responses. Okay. And so as she gets her little game plan together, she has to realize that he has been pushing the buttons, literally her buttons. And he’s making her feel guilty. He’s working her. And when she begins to change, that behavior can change literally in 48 hours. Is it all going to go away in 48 hours? No, but he’s going to start looking at mom a little differently and he’s going to be a lot more thoughtful about what comes out of his mouth, because he’s going to figure out real quickly this isn’t working for me.
Andrea: That’s great. That gives her hope and a lot of other parents out there hope to know that if I can change how I’m reacting to responding, then I can-
Dr. Leman: Let me give you one more little gem, and that is A, Ellen you have solid gold in your purse, in your pocket, so to speak. Your 14 year old can’t do one thing without your permission. He can’t engage in sports without your signature. There’s so many things, that parents need to understand, you do have authority. Exercise your authority. Keep that simple premise in mind that B does not start until A is completed. And that’ll help that transition, that your son will see that, “Uh oh,” all of a sudden mom’s changing and he has to change. Again, there’s a one-to-one relationship. Kids do not stay the same if you do major changing.
Doug: Yep. That is truer than true. So Dr. Leman, I am really excited about the new book. I’ve talked about it a bunch already. I’m going to keep talking about it because it’s such a good book. How would that book, Why Your Kid Misbehaves–and What to do About it, how would that help Ellen? How would that new book help her?
Dr. Leman: Well, it’ll give her the understanding that there’s actual reasons for the misbehavior that’s going on. Okay? It gives her a game plan where she figures out, “Okay, this kid now is exerting powerful behavior. So I have to do these things that are enumerated in the book consistently and I can expect to see change almost momentarily.” That’s a pretty good promise. If somebody promised me that and I had a kid like that, I’d be on that book immediately.
Doug: So again, for all the parents that are out there, for those of you that have never read a Dr. Leman book, I’m just telling you, go get this one. The concepts are so simple. The book is so easy to read. And I’ll say it because I know it’s true, the confidence that it gave you and I to change our behaviors, what we needed more than anything else. And we had to read a couple of them and we had to talk to Dr. Leman a whole bunch of times to get it. So if you’ve only read one Dr. Leman book and you’re like, “Well, I don’t know if I need another one?” I’m telling you, you do. Because it just gives you that deeper confidence to know what you’re supposed to do. So, and it’s a great book. It comes out in May 5th of 2020 and go and get it. So, Why Your Kids Misbehave–and What to Do about It. So you can be confident and love those kids as every mother just wants to love those little babies and kiss those cheeks. It gives you the confidence on how to do that.
Doug: So. Well, we look forward to the next time we get to be with you, and we love being with you so much and we hope that you are adding to your parenting toolbox so you can love them kids.
Andrea: Thanks Ellen for your great question and have a good week.
Doug: Take care. Bye bye.
Andrea: Bye bye.