It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “What do I do when my kid throws violent tantrums?” Find out Dr. Leman’s answer in today’s episode.

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NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman


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Andrea: Are you one of those moms that’s terrified to go to the grocery store because you don’t know if today is the day your kid’s going to have a meltdown in the middle of the aisle? Or does it take forever to get them out of one of those meltdowns at the house?

Doug: And if you’re a dad out there and you’re also petrified because you have no idea what to do other than yell or put them in their room.

Andrea: Dr. Leman is going to address that issue today and give us some help — to know where it comes from and how to deal with it.

Doug: Hi, I’m. Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are here with us today. If this is your first time with us, just 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. And while we talk about serious topics, you are allowed to laugh because Dr. Leman can be pretty stinking funny.

Doug: Well today, we get one of our favorite things, to answer one of your questions that you submit at and you can submit your questions there. This one again comes from Chris, who has a real issue of a kid who has a meltdown. How do we deal with it? Here’s Chris’ question.

Chris: Hi, Dr. Kevin. My name is Chris [Ackerd 00:01:14] and I’m messaging you from Scotsdale, Arizona. We have a beautiful adopted daughter who’s six years old. We got her at four months old, both of her parents drug addicts — mother, heroin; father, meth. Very happy child, smart, artistic, 80%, 90% of the time responds well to operant conditioning, but occasionally, when she decides she’s not having it, she gets this very wild look in her eyes and will become violent. She will, if we go to follow through what her consequences are, she will start to hit, kick, do whatever she can to get her way. It’s very difficult. It ends up in trying to restrain and it takes quite a bit of time to calm down. This can happen in public, mostly at home, fortunately, but this becomes violent, possibly trying to break things. Not sure what to do when it gets to that point. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Leman: Well, Chris, let me start off with a guess. You have never read a Leman book on rearing children. The reason I say that is because you are a behaviorist, you mentioned operant conditioning, and in my opinion, that’s a prescription for creating a powerful child. The first book you should read is Parenting Your Powerful Child. The second book I’m going to suggest you read is Have A New Kid By Friday, because that will give you the game plan.

Dr. Leman: But you have to understand what you created in this little adopted, beautiful, smart daughter of yours. She can respond to, “Okay, if you do this, you’re going to get that,” the operant conditioning. But you know, it can work with lab rats, you can teach a rat to always turn right when he runs down a T maze, and you give him a reward and it will work short-term. If you start switching up things, which is only natural when you talk about people and how they do things, meaning you and your wife, you’re going to inadvertently do things differently and that’s going to drive the subject, meaning your daughter, crazy. She’s going to react the way she does and she has these tremendous meltdown.

Dr. Leman: What I’m saying is your methodology of bringing up your child has led to creating a powerful child. A powerful child says, “I only count in life when I win, when I control, when I dominate.” When things are going their way and they’re getting their little rewards for this and that, they have these smiley faces. They’re human beings; they’re not mannequins, they’re not robots. When the behavior goes a little differently in their life and things aren’t exactly the way they want them, then they have these tremendous meltdowns. As you said, it takes a long time to settle her down.

Dr. Leman: There’s two things working against you. You adopted this special little jewel, okay? I’m so glad to hear that you adopted her just a few months of age. That’s almost as good as new, so to speak, because she has been in your environment, and I know you want to provide her a loving environment but the reward and punishment model will not work. They can only work short-time.

Dr. Leman: You have to rethink how you and your wife want to parent your child. You need to understand that the authoritarian model is destined for failure. It will spark rebellion in a kid’s heart and soul.

Dr. Leman: The permissive, trying to make this kid happy at every turn, will again, implode and you will have disastrous results. It will plant the seed of rebellion in the child’s heart that has been raised by parents who are way too soft and easygoing.

Dr. Leman: So what’s the answer? The answer is to understand what the word “authority” means, and that’s why I say reading Parenting Your Powerful Child and Have A New Kid By Friday will get your head thinking in a completely different direction. This is really necessary, Chris, because it’s not a slight turn that’s needed in this case. Hear what I’m saying — not a slight turn. It’s not a minor adjustment here. It’s you and your wife having a gut wrenching conversation about, “Look what we’ve done. Look what we’re doing. We need to stop. We need to help each other get on the same page here. We need an authoritative approach, not authoritarian.” That’s why I say, based on your question, I know that you’ve never read one of those good layman books or you wouldn’t have asked that question.

Dr. Leman: You have to stop, look around, and figure out a way. Those two books will make it simple, particularly the Have A New Kid By Friday. The simple principle that B doesn’t start til A accomplished, you’ll understand that real well based upon how you’ve raised your daughter to this point. In other words, nothing happens until these little things in life fall in line, and she’s going to rear her head, she’s not going to like that, you’re going to have some other knock down drag outs, but in time, she will change if you two are consistent.

Doug: So Dr. Leman, in my experience with authoritarian individuals, they often find reasons why their children are misbehaving and not blaming themselves. Why is that? Because I could innuendo that this guy will say because she was adopted and she came from a drug family, that’s why she’s misbehaving, not my parenting.

Dr. Leman: Yes, and that’s … you know, you’re getting to be a pretty good shrink here. That’s a good observation. But if you look … I wrote a book once called Women Who Can’t Say No And The Men Who Control Them. It was then revised and came out as Smart Women Know When To Say No. That controlling husband who marries to please your wife, okay, is great at deflecting ownership of anything. They find it very hard to say “I’m sorry,” they find it hard to say “I was wrong,” they know the right way to do things, and when something happens or goes amiss, it’s already someone else’s fault. That personality is very resistant to change.

Dr. Leman: So Chris, you’re going to have to talk to yourself in the mirror a little bit here and say, “You know, I could be wrong.” Let’s just start with that. [inaudible 00:07:33] that a while and turn it into “I was wrong, and for the sake of my daughter and my family …” You tell me, Chris, how embarrassing is it when your kid has this tremendous meltdown? You say mostly in the home but how about in public? What that kid is saying through that power tantrum … I’m not calling it a temper tantrum, there’s another word power, see a powerful child … through that power tantrum, she’s saying, “Wait a minute, I’m the boss here. I’m the one that calls the shots. When things aren’t the way I want them to be, boy, are you going to pay for it.” That’s what’s happening in your home up the road in Scotsdale, Arizona.

Doug: As a recovering control freak authoritarian person, that’s phrase …

Dr. Leman: Yeah, talk to Chris. You’re the one that needs to talk to Chris. Tell him.

Doug: Oh no, you actually know a thing or two, I must admit. It pains me to give you credit for that. But to look in your mirror and say, “I could possibly maybe slightly be wrong in this,” is the best gift you could give somebody like me. Honestly. To look in the mirror and say, “There’s a 1.2% chance I could be wrong here.” It’s the start of healing, absolutely.

Andrea: Because it just opens the door to looking at that possibility without feeling completely responsible.

Doug: Before we hear Dr. Leman’s straight talk advice for us, I want to tell all our listeners again from Baker Books, an incredible special for only $3.99, you can have the book Have A New You By Friday. March 19th to the 25th, 2019, only $3.99, ebook form. If you’ve ever wanted to figure out how to get yourself a little bit more healthy and enjoy life a little bit more, this is a fabulous book for that. Get it.

Doug: Now, straight talk with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: That’s no excuse, parents. You live in the information age, you have information at your fingertips. You can call up Siri. The other day I got in trouble with that, I called her Alexa. I’m always in trouble with Siri and Alexa getting mixed up, but you have all this information, again, at your fingertips. If you read a practical book like Making Children Mind or Have A New Kid By Friday, or Parenting Your Powerful Child, you’re going to be able to put specific tools into your toolbox. I call them pocket answers. What do you do when your kid is smart mouthed to you? What do you when your husband disrespects you? What do you do when a friend is offensive to you? What do you say? Do you always have to say something? When do you unleash that sentence or two that’s going to be a turnaround?

Dr. Leman: You have a choice. If you want to change behavior as an adult, you have to stop and you have to think about what does old self do and now you got to think, “Okay, what’s new self going to do different?” It all starts with you, parent.

Dr. Leman: So here’s the thing. If both parents get on the same page, and they put into the practice the principles that I’ve outlined in Parenting Your Powerful Child and Have a New Kid By Friday, it’s as close to a lock as a sure thing as you can find. Will the child automatically fall in line? No. They’re going to give you what I call a fish out of water experience. She’s going to give it her last grand mal type of power tantrums. When you step over her and walk away and pay her no mind, and since you live in Scotsdale, go out in the backyard and enjoy the warm sunshine, pretty sure she’s going to figure out, “Wait a minute, I don’t know what’s happening here but this isn’t working anymore,” and she will fall in line and you’ll have a new kid on your hands.

Doug: You know, my encouragement, Chris, as the guy who used to always want to control and make everybody toe the line with me, this giving up control is way better. Way, way, way better. You feel less control but man, the relationships are so much sweeter, richer. Life’s a lot less pressure. You don’t have to be perfect anymore. It’s totally worth it. Totally worth it.

Doug: I encourage everybody, go read these books. I know you think like, “Man, all they want to do is push Dr. Leman’s books.” No, that’s not why we’re doing this. We know that … I know, from experience, if you go read these books, you’ll have a different mindset and it will make your life so much better in so many ways. Unbelievably. Not just parenting and not just marriage, but work and your friends, it’s [inaudible 00:11:49]

Dr. Leman: Yeah, my guess is Chris is a reader, but for those of you who say, “You know, Leman, that sounds great but my husband’s never going to get the time to read that book. He’s not a reader in general.” Then go online and order. All of my books can be purchased on a CD. Cars still have CDs, you can slip it in there. Just put it in his car, and when he starts it up, all of a sudden, he’s going to be listening to Parenting Your Powerful Child or Have A New Kid By Friday or [inaudible 00:12:22] books are really fun to listen to in a car.

Doug: If you haven’t read a Dr. Leman book, you have to know that they are humorous. They’re not just this dry … they are full of stories and you’ll be laughing and engaging with it and, yeah, I couldn’t agree more.

Doug: Well we sure hope it helps you parents that are dealing with all these questions about how to help with my children, and I got to remind you, there’s a great special right now. Get Have A New You By Friday for only $3.99, March 19th to the 25th of 2019. In ebook form. You will not regret getting it. As always, we encourage you to subscribe and rate this podcast so that others can help them find it.

Doug: Well, we love helping you add tools to your parenting toolbox so that you can love those kids more and more.

Andrea: Have a great day.

Doug: Take care. Bye bye.