Have you ever had your 9 year-old threaten to kill himself? How about your 5 year-old refusing to wear the clothes you buy her? How should a parent deal with these two powerful children? Listen to this episode to hear Dr. Leman’s answer!


Question #1:

My son is 9 and just recently he started threatening himself when he doesn’t get his way. If I discipline him or he gets mad at me or his dad he tells me to just kill him or he says he should just kill himself. Today he told his brother he should take his finger and push it into his throat. How do I respond to this behavior? My husband thinks he is just trying to get negative attention and to ignore it, but with the world today how do I know if I should rush him to a counselor. I don’t think he is serious, but again…why does he keep reverting to those statements every time he is mad.

Dr. Leman’s Answer:

He is a powerful little guy.

When kids threaten, it is just that, they are threatening. You take actions seriously, not so much the threats.

The questions to ask yourself is: What kind of positive attention is he getting in the home from mom and dad? Does he have any privileges in the family if he is the oldest child?

I would recommend reading Parenting Your Powerful Child.

Question #2 Cara:

I have a 5 year old daughter (only child). When she was about 3 her and I started battling over her clothes and hair. She refused to wear certain clothes, and began being very particular about the way her hair was fixed. After battling her, spanking, and losing control; my husband and I turned to your book. After realizing most of the battle was a power struggle I began to pick my battles. Her and I worked together to pick out her clothes. And I now take her shopping so she can pick out her clothes, and tell her she has to wear what we buy. The problem is we get home and she decides she doesn’t like it anymore so refuses to wear new clothes/shoes. I have really surrendered and just let her pick her clothes, but she wants to wear a dress everyday, wants to fix her hair on her own, and wants to wear the same few favorites repeatedly. Our battle has definitely improved, but I feel like we still have many steps to achieve complete success. Does this still sound like a power struggle to you? And if so, how should I address it?

Dr. Leman’s Answer

My advice is threefold:

1. Let her wear what she wants.
2. Let her fix her hair however she likes.
3. Back off, and let it run its course.

When someone pokes fun at her over always wearing the same dress, she’ll figure it out!