It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman! What do you do when you kid stops going to the bathroom in public places and has accidents at school? Dr. Leman breaks out the advice straight from the book in today’s episode.


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Doug: You have that six year old, the six year old that is driving you nuts. Whenever you say, “Yellow,” they say the opposite. Or how about this one that the lady just asked us? They won’t go to the bathroom until it’s the most worst time, just to spite you as a six year old. What do you do with that? That’s the question we get to ask Dr. Leman today.

Doug: Hi, I’m Dr. [inaudible 00:00:00:33].

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us and welcome. If this happens to be your first time, we wanted 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. If you’re a new listener, to let you know that these are questions that individuals have called in and left a voicemail for us, and that we get to play for you. And this is Tiffany talking to us about her six year old and their struggle. Here we go.

Tiffany : Hello, Dr. Leman. This is Tiffany from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’ve recently binged on all your podcasts along with sharing them with my husband so we can be on the same page. I also just ordered Making Your Children Mind and Parenting the Powerful Child. I have a five year old boy and a very, very powerful three year old boy. My question is regarding my almost six year old. Over the past year and much more frequently, he has been withholding his bowel movements, which has been causing many accidents, mostly at school.

Tiffany : He has expressed much anxiety and fear about using the bathroom at school, and so we have tried talking through this fear with him as well as other ideas. I find myself holding my breath each day as I send him off to school, especially if he has not had a bowel movement for a few days. So I am wondering if this is more of a control issue or real fear, and what we can do to help resolve this issue. Thank you so much for your advice, and I look forward to reading all of your books and listening to more podcasts.

Dr. Leman: Well, Tiffany, thank you so much for the question. I have to comment on your home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Wow. What a beautiful place. I spoke up there to the Western Association of Orthopedic Surgeons and stayed at a beautiful hotel there overlooking the lake. You live in God’s country. Wow. What a pretty place. Friends, if you ever get a chance to get to Idaho, get there. It’s a gorgeous state and great people up in the great state of Idaho, where many of our potatoes come from. Thankful for potatoes. I never met a potato I didn’t like.

Dr. Leman: But anyway, Tiffany, I love your question. And I can tell you right off the bat, you have tried too hard to be a great parent. You have a good diagnosis in your very powerful, almost six year old child. And you’re asking the question, is this really more, the retentive behavior on his part, is it more control? Yes, it is, because powerful children, their mantra in life is what? I only count life when I control, to even the extent of having accidents at school. Part of that question I remember was, “Or is this really just fear?” Well, yeah, it’s fear. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s real fear of using the toilet.

Dr. Leman: And some kids, for whatever reason, are fearful of sitting on a john. They’re fearful of the sound and watching the water go down the drain. It’s not an uncommon fear that kids have. The question is practically as a parent, how do you deal with this? And you have to get it through your head that you, nor your husband, Tiffany, can be accountable for his bowel movements. And when you let go of that, focusing on that … And believe me, he picks up the vibes that you’re worried about, “Did you have a bowel movement?” And you’re going to ask him in all probability. And every time you ask him, you’re driving a nail in the wrong direction. Don’t do that.

Dr. Leman: When you think of things in life, Tiffany, that are the most natural, eating, sleeping, and what’s the third one? Going potty. Three most natural things in the world. And you can ask Doug and Andrea, how many questions do we get from parents about, “My kid won’t sleep. My kid won’t eat. They’re a picky eater. They won’t potty train,” or they have difficulties like you do. But you do have a powerful child on your hands and one that looks like he might be in training to be a powerful child, which I have to take you down this path for just a short period of time. One of you, either yourself, Tiffany, or your husband, is a powerful person, which means there’s a right way to do things. It’s your way, and you tend to be authoritarian.

Dr. Leman: And I’m so glad to know you’ve ordered those books, because one of the things that I’m going to teach you in that book, that the authoritarian parenting lifestyle is going to make your situation with your six year old worse every day until you make that synapse in your mind from, “I’m no longer an authoritarian, and I’m going to move and work toward being in authority over my sons.” When that day happens, you will begin to see a change in your kid’s behavior, because the kid’s going to figure out there’s no payoff here.

Dr. Leman: See, part of his need to control is so dominant that he’s willing to have an accident. You tell me, who’s retaining that bowel movement? Is it someone in the neighborhood? No, it’s him. He’s the one that’s doing that, and that is purposive behavior. It means that behavior serves a purpose in his life. What’s the purpose of that? To keep you and/or, or both of you, as parents, overly involved in his life. So what do you do? You send the kid to school.

Dr. Leman: I know what I would do. I would send … Let’s see, how old is he? Almost six. You could probably even get some pull-ups, big size pull-ups to have available at school. So if he has an accident, he wears pull-ups with something over them, a pair of shorts or something. And as a matter of fact as that can be, the better. If you can get a teacher to play ball with you on something like that, you’ve got a great teacher. Sometimes in situations like that, the teacher will send a kid to the nurse, and you can imagine how much the nurse loves that teacher. I won’t even go into that. Nevertheless, the responsibility for that has to lay on the side of your son.

Dr. Leman: The other thing I have to tell you is when we talk about the fear, and I said the fear is real. He fears that. And what you have to understand is reality is the perception of the person. So his reality is that sitting on that potty is scary, and something might happen to me bad. And so if you tell him there’s nothing to worry about, that’s not going to take away his fear one bit, because he feels that. So your response has to be something like, “Well honey, you can be fearful. You can be fearful that you’re going to fall in the drain and fall … I’ve never seen that ever happen in life. I don’t think that’s ever happened in life to anybody. But if you want to believe that, you can believe that. But for Dad and I, we really don’t believe that, just so you know.”

Dr. Leman: So you’re not denying the kid’s feelings, but you’re not agreeing with those feelings. You’re saying, “We feel very differently.” So it seems to me between the teacher and yourselves, if you both get creative and read those two books you’ve ordered, when you read the Parenting Your Powerful Child … In fact, Doug and I just did a little promo for people to buy that book, and it is well worth it. It is pure gold for those of you who have powerful kids. Don’t do another week of going through the stuff you go through every week with that powerful child. You don’t have to live like that. So anyway, those are a few thoughts. Doug and Andrea?

Doug: Dr. Leman, I’ve just got to be honest. If this were my kid … And my heart breaks for Tiffany. I feel for her. The level of embarrassment would be off the charts to me, that my nearly six year old is having bowel movements, and other people are having to deal with it. My sense of failure and embarrassment, how do I deal with that?

Dr. Leman: Well, you’re not going to deal with it well, but again, you have to tell yourself the truth, parent. Okay, every parent that’s got a situation like this, repeat after me. And I always hate it when people say, “Repeat after me,” but I want to do it maybe just to irritate people. Who knows? I as a parent have absolutely no control over what happens in that classroom. Now, that’s the reality. You don’t have to believe that. You can say, “Oh no, I do. I …” Really? Tell me how. How do you pull the strings on what happens in that? And see, that’s something your kid has to face.

Dr. Leman: I always tell adults, you have to run toward the fear. Well, what’s the fear for your son or your daughter, those of you who have powerful parents? Well, fear is that it’s going to do something terrible to them. Well, let them believe that. The reality is it’s not. In fact, I’m sure you haven’t said this Tiffany, but a good guess is you’ve taken your son to the pediatrician, and that pediatrician has had to very carefully remove some of that bowel movement because he was so stuffed up. And it makes you feel terrible. And sooner or later that’s going to win out over his need to be powerful.

Doug: Well, I better not forget again, the ebook promotion to talk about, before we finish the rest of this discussion, from [inaudible] is Under the Sheets for $1.99, from September 10th through September 16th of 2019.

Dr. Leman: Now you’re talking. Now you’re talking.

Doug: So Dr. Leman …

Dr. Leman: Let me tell you about this little book. Under the Sheets, this is a book that you would not give to your pastor’s wife. I’m just telling you, it ain’t ever going to happen. This is a book that if we sold it in a brown cloth, plain edition, it would be a New York Times best seller. It talks about life, the intimacies of marriage. No [inaudible] are barred in his book. Order this. You can [downline] it. Nobody knows you got it. How sneaky is this, and how … Is it $1.99?

Doug: It is $1.99.

Dr. Leman: Oh, my goodess.

Doug: Yep.

Dr. Leman: Hold on. Let put some humor in it. Is great sex worth $1.99? I’m laughing at myself again, but this is a book that will answer questions that you, many of you, would be way, way, way too embarrassed to ask anybody. So this is an opportunity for you to get the real truth straight from a shoulder, so to speak. And would you want to hide this book from your nine year old? I would think so. And it’s obviously for mature audiences, as they say, but $1.99. Oh, my goodness, Under the Sheets.

Dr. Leman: There is some really good humor in that book as well. As one who’s been on The View with those crazy ladies talking about the delicate topic of sex, I came here to tell you that using humor when you’re talking about sex helps us deal with it. But you will love Under the Sheets. Pick up a copy. Download it today. Tell your buddies about it. $1.99, can’t beat that.

Doug: So if you want help in that arena of life, Under the Sheets for $1.99. And now, no nonsense parenting advice from Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: One of the things that I’ve been sharing more than ever is an opportunity, when I’m on national TV or radio, is just this five-star suggestion to parents everywhere. And I keep bringing it up because there’s so many people to reach on this one. It’s fundamentally important. If you want a great relationship with that man you love, ladies, don’t ask him questions. Don’t ask him the “why” word. Ask for his opinion. This man who usually just grunts, groans, and otherwise doesn’t answer anything, will surprise you in all probability. He’ll talk your ear off if you ask him for his opinion.

Dr. Leman: Well, it’s true with kids as well. Kids really don’t like questions. It puts them on the defensive, and many times they’ll just blow you off with, “Okay. I’m fine. No big deal,” just to get rid of you. And then they’ll go and they’ll get on the computer or on their cell phone, and they’ll talk to their buddies. They’ll Facebook this, they’ll Instagram that, and you’ll literally be shut out of their life. So you want to be as relational as you possibly can with kids.

Dr. Leman: And when you say, and this is what I want you to hear, when you say to your son or your daughter, “Honey, I’d love to hear your opinion about this or that,” what are you really saying? You’re really saying, “I value what you think. I’m interested in what’s going on in your head.” Now here’s the hard part, especially for us as men. If you ask a kid his opinion, and it gives you an opinion, but guess what? It’s a lot different than what you expected. In fact, it’s not what you want to hear. If you’re like most of us, your carnal self will fall prey to, “Hey, that’s not true. Let me tell you what’s really going on here.” And you’re going to try to set him straight.

Dr. Leman: So here’s the key. Can you listen without judgment? If you listen without judgment, that relationship is going to grow, and it’s going to mature, and it’s going to get better every day. And if you listen without judgment, when the going really gets hard for your kids someday, guess what? They’re not going to flinch at going to mom and dad and saying, “Mom and Dad, I need to share something with you.” Keep that in mind. Don’t ask questions. Don’t ask the “why” word. Simply ask for their opinion.

Doug: So Dr. Leman, for Tiffany and for these other moms that are struggling with kids that are powerful kids, once they change their direction, their view of it, how long is it going to take for this kid to change?

Dr. Leman: Not long. Those books, Have a New Kid by Friday and Have a New Teenager by Friday … I always say, “Those are lies. You could have a new kid or a new teenager by Wednesday.” And I mean that. Once the kid realizes that you’re no longer willing to play your part in the dog and pony show in your home, they will move quickly in another direction. They’ll see that it no longer pays off.

Dr. Leman: The other thing to keep in mind … This is just in general, if you have a powerful child. Your powerful child says something that’s really stupid, dumb, whatever, and you have that need to correct them immediately. Don’t do that, parent. Just try this. Try this in your home. They always say, “Don’t try this at home.” I’m telling you to try this at home. Next time your child says something really stupid, dumb, whatever, rather than correct them and tell them the right thing, just say, “Wow, wow, interesting,” and walk away.

Dr. Leman: And you will take the power out of that child. You have removed your sails from your child’s wind, and that’s why those books, Planet Middle School, and Have a New Teenager by Friday, Parenting Your Powerful Child, are just essential reading. You will thank Doug and

Andrea, and hopefully me too, for bringing these books to you. These are life changing books for parents. Don’t suffer another day, parent.

Doug: I think in conclusion here you’d said, “Run towards the fear. Address the fact that the kid could fall in the toilet and all that, though it’s never happened before.” Where’s the line between running towards the fear and empathizing with your kids? How do you know when to do which one?

Dr. Leman: Okay, so the statement is, “Honey, I know this is real to you. I know you struggle with this. Okay? I’m not in your shoes. I can’t experience what you’re experiencing, but I have faith in you that you’re going to solve this problem.” When the teacher sends home this note about your kid and the terrible behavior that your kid is exhibiting in the classroom … Okay, there’s the note. You just read it. What do you do?

Dr. Leman: I would send an email back that says, “Hey, thank you for letting me know what’s going on. I just want you to understand both my husband and myself feel strongly that you and the other professional people at school will deal with this problem with our son, Matthew, in a professional and efficient way. We wish you the very best.” Now, what have we done there? We’ve said, “Thank you for letting us know. Now there’s … I’ll deal at home with what I need to deal with, but I can’t deal with what happens in the classroom. That’s your responsibilities.”

Dr. Leman: See, lots of times the teacher who really doesn’t know what to do, she just sends the email home that says how terrible your kid is, and somehow you’re going to do something magical at home that’s going to make the kid behave differently in school. No, the teacher and the administration are the ones that are going to make a difference in that kid’s behavior in school, whether it’s an in school suspension, or depending upon the grade level, a chair, what we call a thinking chair, where you put a kid in a thinking chair, and they don’t come out of the thinking chair until they think of a way that they could have handled the situation better. There’s all kinds of ways to skin the proverbial cat.

Dr. Leman: But again, parents, don’t get sucked in to thinking that you can control what happens in the classroom, because you can’t. Well Doug and Andrea, I hope this has been helpful. I know parents struggle with powerful children. And my goodness, Tiffany has for sure a powerful child. So again, we pitched those books to you. You can ignore it and keep living your life the way you want to live it. Or if you need some immediate help, Parenting Your Powerful Child, and Have a New Kid by Friday, Have a New Teenager by Friday, Planet Middle School, all are great books to turn your child’s life in a positive direction. So again, thanks Andrea, and thanks, Doug, for being such a vital part of this. I know people love it. So thanks and we’ll look forward to seeing everybody next time.

Doug: Tiffany, thanks a lot for your question. And just as a reminder, that you guys can go to,, and leave your audio question for us there. There’s a microphone, and we love answering your questions. It’s such a blessing to hear real world questions through this. And as Dr. Leman said, I can’t encourage you enough, if this is your powerful child, go get the book, Parenting Your Powerful Child, or Have a New You by Friday. Well, we look forward to the next time we get to be with you and add to your parenting toolbox, so that you can love those kids more and more and more. Take care.

Andrea: Have a good week.

Doug: Bye bye.

Andrea: Bye bye.