It’s time for another ask Dr. Leman. “What’s next after my 5 year kicked a hole in the door and wall?” In this episode, Dr. Leman provides his insight on what to do with an overly powerful child. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
- Making Children Mind without Losing Yours – Dr. Kevin Leman
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Doug: Well hello, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad to be back with you on Have a New Kid by Friday with Dr. Kevin Leman. If this is your first time with us, this is for 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. You know Dr. Leman, this is our second episode back into Have a New Kid, bringing it back. So, there’s gonna be a bunch of new listeners that are on board. I just realized, it would be really helpful for them to know just a little bit about your history as a child psychologist and author. You’ve written how many books now?
Dr. Leman: 60, 6-0.
Doug: Wow. Wow. And some of them that are more well known would be?
Dr. Leman: Well, I can’t get away from The Birth Order book. People love The Birth Order book. They love Making Children Mind without Losing Yours. They love Have a New Kid by Friday. They love Sheet Music, which is the best selling book on sex written, Sheet Music. Best written from a Christian Perspective. Those are a few. There’s lots of others. Planet Middle School’s a wonderful book. Have a New Husband by Friday is a wonderful book.
Doug: The Way of the Shepherd is a great one. The other one-
Dr. Leman: Oh yeah.
Doug: Is a new, What’s the New You? And The How to Say No book are great. Okay. So those are great. How about you the person? Are you still married?
Dr. Leman: I’ve been married to the same lucky woman for now 50 years in a row, so I’m a grandfather. I’m old as dirt. Chicks still follow me, but they’re in walkers usually. We have five children. None of them currently are in jail. They’ve all done extremely well in life. They love each other and they like to hang out with us, which is sort of a nice litmus test as a parent. We had kids at about every age possible. I got my wife pregnant at 42 with our little surprise. We had the little shocker at 48. We’ve been parenting kids it seems like for most of our lives. Other than that, I speak. I do fundraisers. I can raise money for organizations. I do seminars in churches, life changing seminars. I hate the word seminar. We just say life changing events. I do business groups, YPO groups, Young President’s Organization, top of the table in the insurance industry.
They call me a motivational speaker. I hate that term, but I guess in some ways, I am.
Andrea: Are you still writing, Dr. Leman?
Dr. Leman: Oh yeah. I’ve got a book coming out in the fall called When your Kid is Hurting. It’ll be out in September. That’ll be book 61 if I’m counting right.
Andrea: Wow, congratulations.
Dr. Leman: So, a lot of things going on. We enjoy life. I have some charter schools. There are now six of them, we opened this fall. We teach kids to be respectful. We put authority in the classroom teacher’s hands for all of you involved in education. Let me assure you, you’ll never get to where you want to be in education until you figure out you need to put authority in the classroom teacher’s hand. Not as an authoritarian, but as the supreme authority in that classroom. Permissiveness reigns in our schools. That’s not the answer. Treat kids the way you expect them to behave, and they behave that way. So, Leman Academy of Excellence is in Arizona, in Mesa, Sierra Vista, Tucson several locations, and in Parker, Colorado. We’re knocking on Nevada’s door and Texas’ door next, and I’d like to think that we could make a dent in American education.
I’m a former dean of students. I graduated fourth from the bottom of my class in my high school. I was voted to go nowhere. I finally got in college, got thrown out of college. Met my wife in the men’s room of a hospital when I was a janitor. So, that’s enough to wet your whistle about who this old guy is on the radio.
Doug: Two other things, as an outsider that I know that I appreciate about Dr. Leman is A, all the kids get together in the summer for a week back at a lake house because they enjoy hanging out with mom and dad and each other so much. Like, hello, could there be a better dream, and their spouses come with them. If we need validation that Dr. Leman knows what he’s talking about, like the dream, he does it. I could go on and on about the number of times their family gets together to celebrate the other kids’ successes. Like when their youngest, who not that long ago graduated from college, the whole family came out, everybody came out to celebrate it. And the second thing that you alluded to is that while you have been parenting for a long time, and your youngest is not that far out of the parenting cycle, so it’s not like you’re not in touch with what everybody’s going through, and you’re running this school, so you’re right in the middle of it again.
Andrea: So you know exactly what’s happening.
Doug: With everybody. So it’s really great that we get the longevity of seeing things come and go, and yet you’re fresh in it. The last thing is I really want to thank Baker Publishing again, for making this podcast happen. Because of them stepping up, we get to be back together. They’re an incredible company. I just can’t say enough of my appreciation to them to be able to get us to do this again.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. They’ve sold millions of copies of Leman books, and they’re good people. They’re located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But you know, I’m out. I just did a MOPS group yesterday, and talking to young mommies. I try to stay in touch, of course, at our school. I’m talking to moms of school age kids, K through, well actually preschool through eighth grade all the time. I really am in touch with some of the struggles that parents are facing. By the way, if you’re a new listener to our podcast, help us spread the word. Go on Facebook, tell people they can discover us at BirthOrderGuy.com
Doug: Yeah man. All righty.
Andrea: I’m excited to hear Dr. Leman’s answer to this question.
Doug: This is one of our favorite times that you leave an audio voicemail about a problem. We get to play it on the air and Dr. Leman gets to answer it. He has no idea what this one is, so this’ll be fun. Here we go.
Voicemail: Kevin, I have a five-year-old who is very mouthy and yells a lot at me. She’s also a boss and likes to take charge. She still throws tantrums and she is five years old. A lot of times I do let her get away with things, but I was wondering what we can do as parents for discipline. I know I’ve tried putting her in her room, and shutting the door and holding it, but she has kicked a hole in the door and the wall. What do I do at this age, because I thought at five the tantrums would be gone? If you could get back with me, that would be great. Thanks.
Dr. Leman: Well, I appreciate the question. To quote you, “I thought by five, the temper tantrums would be gone.” Why would they be gone? There’s no reason to have them gone because they’ve obviously been paid off, to the point where at age five, this kid has developed behavior that’s consistent with a very powerful child. Not a strong-willed child, a powerful child. A powerful child has to have the last word in everything. Many times, they’re very demonstrative, such as throwing things, kicking things, damaging things. They’re little ragers, is what they are. You can imagine what kind of a wife this young woman is gonna grow up to be. I mean, who is her husband, Hercules, the strong man? I wouldn’t want to live with a woman like that. Nobody in their right mind would.
What you have to owe up to, and I appreciate your candor, is that you and your husband, assuming that you are married, have created this little mouthy, bossy, powerful little buzzard. It would be extremely rare that neither of you as mom and dad is a powerful person. When you have a powerful child, I’ve got news for you, they didn’t get it from drinking the water in your home. They got it through the interaction of a parent that is far too what? Authoritarian. Now here’s the clicker. Now I don’t know if you’re a person of faith or not, but almost all the teaching we’ve got from some well-meaning people who are very well known has basically been authoritarian training. I’m bigger than you are. I’m better than you are, and you’re gonna do what I tell you to do.
Well, right there is a recipe for rebellion in a kid’s life. And we plant the seeds of rebellion early, and a kid has his little will, shows his temperament, we overreact to it, and the kid gets worse. He says, “Oh I gotcha. We’re playing parental poker, aren’t we? Well I’ll see your quarter and I’ll bump you a quarter.” And you get into a spitting contest with a kid, a power struggle with a kid, and guess what, you lose. So you have to find ways of removing your sails from a child’s wind. When you ask the question, “What can we do?” Stop trying things. Do some things, okay. Make sure your yes is yes, your no is no. Do not repeat things for her. Don’t ask her questions. Don’t ask her questions. I could talk about that forever. You say, “Well Leman, how do I not ask a kid a question?” You can learn to ask their opinion, especially with a powerful child. Kids will talk your ear off if you ask for their opinion. But I’m saying, get a game plan together.
Now, being as bad as that is, a five-year-old that powerful, I’m just telling you, that’s bad. And you better memorize the Making Children Mind book, and then graduate to reading Parenting Your Powerful Child because you do have a powerful child. The power will only increase. You can imagine what this kid’s gonna be like at 14, 15, 16 years old. You won’t want to be around her unless things change. So, it’s gonna mean you and your husband are on the same page, and you put into a plan based upon the teachings in Making Children Mind without Using Yours. My promise to you is this, if you’re consistent, don’t lose your cool, learn to respond and not react, you’re gonna see behavioral change quickly in your powerful little buzzard.
Andrea: How quickly?
Dr. Leman: 48 hours to a week.
Andrea: Is that why the book is called Have a New Kid by Friday?
Dr. Leman: That’s why that book is called that, yes.
Doug: So Dr. Leman, for this to happen for Brittney, she’s gonna have to change so many things, how she thinks, how she responds. What would you say to her, like here’s something that you must do first?
Dr. Leman: Number one, stop being driven by her happiness. If she wants to be miserable, let her be as miserable as she wants to be. Don’t tell her how she should feel. Don’t ask her questions. And make sure your husband is on the same page as you, so that one of you isn’t the bad guy and one of you is the good guy, because that happens way too much.
Doug: That’s a shocking first one. Don’t-
Andrea: Don’t be driven by her happiness.
Doug: Don’t be driven by her happiness. What does that mean?
Dr. Leman: Well, this isn’t a happy child. Do you think a kid who throws temper tantrums and puts a hole is a door is a happy child?
Dr. Leman: This is unhappy in the truest sense of the word. This kid has to change or this kid’s gonna live a miserable life. Personality forms in the first five, six years of life. She’s already five. So, some other drastic things have to happen in the home where the kid figures out, wait a minute, this isn’t working any longer. I can’t be the tyrant in this home. I’m gonna have to subject myself to their authority. Is that gonna be easy? No. It’s like a salmon swimming upstream.
Doug: So, first off, we don’t worry about her happiness.
Dr. Leman: Right.
Doug: Secondly, when a temper tantrum happens, what’s her response?
Dr. Leman: Well, step over it if she’s in your way, or ignore it, or take her by the hand and put her outside if you have a safe place to put her. She can howl at the moon if she wants.
Doug: So we’re in the kitchen. I’m making dinner. And all of a sudden, she just throws a big old temper tantrum. I mean, she just lays in full on, red-faced and everything. I put her outside and shut the door?
Dr. Leman: I see you need some fresh air. Then go outside, close the door, lock the door. If she’s powerful, if she says she’ll pound on that door, it’ll take everything in your being not to respond to that or react to that.
Doug: Do I keep her out there for two minutes, 90 seconds?
Dr. Leman: You keep her out there until she’s quiet.
Andrea: Last time I locked her in her room, she put a hole in the door. What if she hurts herself?
Dr. Leman: The consequence of hitting a door many times is hurting yourself.
Andrea: What do I tell my pediatrician?
Dr. Leman: She hurt herself. I have a self-destructive child on my hands. I’m not quite sure what to do. There’s only so many things, I mean, you continue … If you find yourself making excuses, and even the questions you’re asking, you’re showing your weakness parent. And one of the things to know about powerful children is this. They don’t like it when other people are powerful with them. They hate it. They react to it. But if you’re firm and strong, they don’t like it, but they’ll learn to respect it. So, you need to be firm.
Doug: Would you ever advocate that you leave, that Brittney just gets up and leaves the situation?
Dr. Leman: Depending upon where you are, that could work, but I don’t want the kid that’s capable of putting holes in doors to have full reign of the house, destroy the place.
Doug: So, I stop worrying about her happiness. I let her throw her temper tantrums somewhere else. And I ignore them, right? You’re just saying just don’t give into it, any way she’ll perform.
Dr. Leman: Right because every kid that has a meltdown … Every parent’s had a kid who’s had a meltdown at one time or another. Once they wind down, for the most part, what are the kids like? Most of them are apologetic. Most of them are just tired. Some of them just cry themselves to sleep. But the next day, they’re back to a point of normalcy. So, you have to have the mindset that this too shall pass, okay. You’re the adult here, so you’ve got to put on your big girls pants, big boy pants, and deal with it as best you can.
Doug: You did a lot of family counseling as well, for many, many years.
Dr. Leman: Yeah.
Doug: In your experience, what is it gonna take for Brittney to be able to rewrite this story? What is she gonna have to do internally to be able to externally do this? In other words, how quickly can she shift at her? What is she gonna need to shift that inside of her?
Dr. Leman: Well she has to admit, number one, what she’s done isn’t working. Make a list of all things you’ve tried. I love it when parents tell me they tried this and they tried that, and they tried this, and nothing works. Well obviously something works, but you’re going from pillar to post. Do you know where you’re going? I always tell parents, “Hey in the sea of life, you’re the captain or the co-captain of the good ship family. Do you have a port of call? Do you know where you’re going?” See, most parents don’t. Most parents don’t have a reference point. You need to be an authority without being an authoritarian and without being permissive. There’s only one way, quite frankly, to rear a child, and if you’re a person of faith, you have to realize that God is not an authoritarian, and he’s our model. So, God is the supreme what? Authority. If you need that as a guide, keep in mind you want to be an authority without being an authoritarian.
You want to be an authority without being permissive. It means you’re making judgment calls together with your spouse. If you’re a single parent, guilt can get the best of you for a lot of reasons, but you have to work toward being consistent. Let your yes be yes, your no be no. Think before you engage your mouth. Don’t strike out. Don’t react. Learn to respond. There’s a big difference. Again, what has to happen for this 180 to turn around this kid’s behavior to do full circle and start going in a positive direction, she has to see, he has to see that mom and dad have done a 180. And they’re doing things differently.
Doug: Yeah. Yeah. That’s really good. That’s really good. You know, when I think back to our early years of parenting, it really was, and even later, the teenage years, well we’re still in the teenage years, it really was the books we read actually. I mean, I know that’s what we’re talking about. That’s what you do, but it really does help me have a port of call to know where we’re going together. A, when you said you’ve got to be on the same page. Having that reference point put us on the same page, and then B, it gave us common language to use when we tried to parent, which was fabulous. I’m just reminiscing.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Everybody can’t use humor, but humor helps. I remember as you were saying that about when your kids were growing up or were little, I remember, one of my daughters coming to me and saying, “Well how come she got that and I didn’t get that?” And very matter of factly, I said, “Honey, it’s because your mother and I love her so much more than we love you.” Well she knew we were pulling her chain. She knew that wasn’t the truth, but sometimes humor can help you as an adult navigate these waters. When you have a powerful child who’s capable of kicking doors and breaking things, and everything else, “Hey Leman, you have no idea how difficult this is.” I do know how difficult it is. I’m trying to give you straight advice to be firm, to know where you’re going. Have your yes be yes, your no be no. The kids will read that you’re firm and they are unable to penetrate.
Doug: Yeah. So Brittney, if you’re listening to this, I would again, Dr. Leman already said it, I couldn’t encourage you enough to go read Parenting Your Powerful Child. It’s just gonna be incredibly powerful for you to go like, “Oh, that’s it.” And just give you that inner confidence that we all need, that mindset to be able to do it. Then, Making Children Mind without Using Yours, couldn’t encourage that enough as well for you. Just so you have the confidence to do the right things.
Well, it has been fabulous to be back. We love these questions. Brittney, thank you so much for being bold and putting that question out there, and being honest. It’s great. It helps us all because there’s lots of us that struggle with five year olds and we’re trying to figure out how to do it.
Andrea: Is there a place that people can leave their questions now that we’ve started back up?
Doug: BirthOrderGuy.com. You can still go there and leave questions. We keep loving to hear them. Thank you so-
Andrea: Thank you, Brittney.
Doug: Thank you, Brittney. Thank you, Dr. Leman. We look forward to the next time.
Andrea: Bye, bye.