Do you find yourself resorting to coaxing methods or threats of punishment when parenting your kids? Listen in to Dr. Leman’s no-nonsense advice on this episode of the Have a New Kid by Friday Podcast.
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Doug: Hey John, I need you to take the trash out. Listen, if you go take the trash out, I’ll give you a Twix bar when you come back. Sally, you are the worst child in the history of all children. Get those dishes done now. How do we instill good habits without cajoling, bribing or going crazy on our kids? That’s the question we get to ask Dr. Leman today. Hi, I’m Dr. [Banine 00:00:37].
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: It is fabulous to be with you today. If this is your first time with us, we 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. Well Dr. Leman, the question to you today is as parents we want to instill those good habits in our children. How do I get good habits into my children?
Dr. Leman: Well, you just haven’t learned, you don’t have the information you need to be a good parent and that’s one of the reasons why we do these podcasts. We think giving parents information about how to handle everyday challenges that every parent faces, is really doing you and your family a great service.
It should become as natural as it can possibly be, to teach a child how to be respectful of adults and other people, and how to be a helper and give back to the family, but quite frankly, parents usurp all the power. They don’t give anything to the children, they don’t give kids responsibility.
I mean, the old adage is if you want a responsible child you what, you give them responsibility and from an early age. I mean, a three-year-old can help unload a dishwasher, can run and get the salt and pepper for mom or dad, can do all kinds of things. You want kids to be able to be a part of the family.
Every piece of research says that if people feel they’re a part of something they’re going to participate, they’re going to support it. Think of adults in churches. Do people support a church they don’t feel a part of? No. Do you hang out with people you feel uncomfortable around? No. So that’s why I say, it should be as natural a phenomenon is a good possibly be, to teach kids in a loving way that they’re a part of this family.
And you do so by allowing kids to help, not by always saying, “Oh honey, no, that’s too heavy for you. Oh, no, no, you’ll spill that. I mean, parents over hover. You’re raising kids. Okay, they’re kids I get it, but the goal is to, by age 18 when they leave your little nest, you’ve raised a pretty good adult or a young adult that’s going to be a contributor to this world.
Well, what’s the difference? How come some parents today have kids who’ve had private education, gone to college, and now they’re back living at home doing nothing. How does that happen? It was all done in the name of love, by the way. I love my child so much I’m going to do this and that for them.
But so many very healthy adults would tell you, “I had to work for things in my family. I had a job at 14 or 15. I contributed, I gave back to the family. I knew that my parents weren’t wealthy. I knew I had to do my fair share.” So those parents who start off in a very natural, loving, and yet a position of authority over their children and their family, are ones who most naturally will grow a child to be a contributor and not somebody who’s going to end up being a taker.
Now those are general terms, but the more it can happen naturally the better and that’s why I say people don’t have information. You need a license for about everything in life, but there’s no license for parenting, and that’s why people like me have written parenthood books.
Why do they continue to be published? Why do they continue to sell? Let me tell you why, because people buy them and they need them. They know that this is not a piece of cake raising this kid and the Leman library on raising kids is pretty good. The books are practical, so that’s why we do what we do.
Doug: So I want to instill good habits with my kids. So I’m thinking there’s two kinds of tracks and maybe I’m thinking of it incorrectly. So there’s the whole help around the house chores and then there’s life habits, not being late. Let’s choose not being late to think, how do I help my kid develop a good habit of not being late or can I?
Dr. Leman: Okay. Who’s responsible for getting the child to school on time?
Doug: Mom and dad.
Dr. Leman: Okay, that’s a false assumption. Here’s what you’ve got to remember. You really have to teach the child. Okay. A kid doesn’t wake up at age three and say, “I’m responsible for getting myself to preschool like Dr. Leman said.” No, I’m not saying that. But what you have to do as a parent is you have to look at your child.
Is your child one of those kids that jumps out of bed in the morning with a smile on their face? “Hi mommy, I love you.” They jump to the table. If you put the dog food in front of them, they’d dig in and be thankful for it. Or do you have a child that’s a manatee in the morning, a slug? They move very slowly.
Okay. And the question is, how do you teach kids to be on time? Well, first of all you’ve got to look at the wood you’ve got. Do you got a nice piece of cherry wood there or do you got a piece of pine that’s got all kinds of knots in it, flawed to the core?
Well, for that little guy who wakes up slowly and he is the manatee of the family, what time are you going to get that four year old up in the morning? Are you going to put them on a short schedule like you and assume he’s going to be able to rock and roll and get with it? Or are you going to do some planning and say, “This one needs an extra half hour or we don’t have a shot of getting him in that car on time.”
So again, I think parent, yeah, you’re an authority. You’ve got to figure out what you got. It’s like a football coach or a basketball coach. He looks at his talent and then he figures out, how do I get the best out of this talent? What offense is going to work best? What defense is going to work best?
And so you summarize your feelings about your family. Okay. Okay, I think this is how we go and you make that decision and you start working toward the value of being on time. For example, if I had a four-year-old who balked at getting ready and getting him to preschool on time, I would solicit the help of the four-year-old preschool teacher. I’d have the four-year-old preschool teacher look them in the eye and say, “Hey, you need to be here on time. I don’t want you here late again.” You give them the look.
Kids respond many times better to people outside of the family than they do their own parents, but I’d play this game of life, smart with the kids. Be goal directed, have goals for your kids, that’s fine. But sooner or later, you’re going to figure out the goals that are really important are the goals that the kid has incorporated into his or her own life, to figure out how do I navigate school and friendships and sports and relationships and all that. So it’s a fine art to know when to step in, when to back off, which you always want to grant responsibility to a kid if you want a responsible child, I know that.
Andrea: Well, what I hear you saying here is if I’m going to teach my kid to be fill in the blank on time, then actually it starts with me being the example of doing that.
Dr. Leman: It does.
Andrea: You are describing me being responsible to get the kid out of the house on time so that they learn.
Dr. Leman: Yeah, you got one kid, Andrea, that’s no problem at all. I mean, they’re ready. They’re the ones standing at the door saying, “Come on, we’re going to be late.” But you got this other one that’s a laggard and you have to build that in. I mean, it might be part of their personality.
Doug: Well this brings me to the ebook special, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read is Have A New Kid By Friday. That’s why it’s called Have A New Kid for $2.99 between now and the end of December of 2020. And I don’t have the Amazon reviews, which I highly recommend go to Amazon and read all those reviews, but I’ll give you Doug [Terbiding’s] review.
I was at a conference in Dallas, Texas. This crazy guy got up and started talking about parenting and said some crazy things, and I went and bought this book and read it on the plane back. It’s super easy to read, super funny. And I came home to Andrea and said, “Andrea, we’ve got to start changing what we’re doing. You got to read this book. We’re too far over here on the authoritarian side. I got to change. The whole back half is just about actionable ways that you can deal with things like lying and and all these other things. It’s phenomenal.
Andrea: I just got to know, did that crazy guy speaking have on a Hawaiian print shirt?
Doug: Yeah, he was. He was.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Hey folks, let me tell you something about the [Terbidings 00:10:09]. These guys are lovely people to begin with, okay? They are as normal as a couple can be. Guess what? They fight with each other sometimes. Isn’t that wonderful, refreshing to know that Terbidings who we love on our podcast, they fight, they make fools of themselves sometimes. And what they’ve discovered in marriages, you know what, when you make a fool yourself you got to say, “Hey, I’m sorry.”
So when you hear from Doug and Andrea, I want you to understand these are couples like you. They happen to love God, which is really important in their lives, and they love their kids and they do the best they can and they make mistakes just like Kevin and Sandy Leman made when we were bringing up our kids.
But we have a common goal here on our podcast and that is simply “Help you,” as Doug says, “put a little tool or two in your toolbox for parenting, it will make you a better parent.” Parenting is really important, so is being a faithful mate to each other, important.
So we’re glad you listen and pass it along to your friends. We love to have new people join us. We know those numbers continue to grow. We hear from many of you on a continuing basis, how much you enjoy our podcast and we want you to know, we appreciate you. That’s the end of my campaign for the Terbidings.
Doug: Oh, that’s so sweet. And now a no nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: I call it parental poker, but if you could turn your head around and your neck was pliable enough to look in your back pocket, you’ll see those big four aces there. What do I mean by that? Your son or daughter in most situations can’t do anything without your permission. They need your signature, your help for about all the important things in their life, whether it’s athletics, drive a car, whatever.
So sometimes you have to sit down with kids, especially kids who are powerful and you have to say, “Listen, I want you to see my cards.” And they’re going to say, “What are you talking about?” And pretend to have four cards, ace of spades, ace of diamonds, hearts, clubs, and just put it on them and explain to them what that means.
That I am an authority over you and I know you don’t like it right now but that’s the way it is and we’re going to deal with it one way or another. We can deal with it easily, or we can make it hard. Let’s not make it hard on each other, let’s try to find some common ground. Okay. By the way, I love you very much.
Doug: Dr. Leman, now I have teenagers, 14, 15, 16 year olds and I see that they’ve developed bad habits in whatever it is. Let’s say it’s, I don’t know, you got me.
Andrea: Well, you said, “Slandering.” Earlier like gossip and slander.
Doug: Like talking bad about people all the time and how everybody’s bad in the world. Do I have an opportunity to step in at that time to help them change that [inaudible] is going to hurt, bad habits that will hurt them later in life or not and if so, what?
Dr. Leman: Yeah, I think you do, but I think it all hinges on how do you do it. Once the kids hit those teenage years, you have to back off. Okay? You have to give these kids the freedom to do some failure to figure out life as it is, not to be so prescriptive or if you tend to be authoritarian, so dictatorial about how their lives should be lived, but I think it’s fair game when you see things with your kids that trouble you.
I think it’s important that you find a time where you can pull them aside and say, “Hey, do you have 10 minutes?” Yeah, “What do you need?” “Well I don’t need it, I just want to talk to you for 10 minutes. I see some things that I have to be honest with you, bother me. And I thought about not saying anything to you about it and I thought, you know what, that would be disrespectful because I love you so much and I care about you so much. I just felt like I needed to say something to you.”
And at that point, that son or daughter might become a little defensive and say, “Listen, you don’t have to say a word. You don’t have to defend yourself and what you’re doing right there is you’re knocking down the defenses.” You’re saying, “You don’t have to say a word. I would just you to listen to me for just a few moments.”
And then you preface that with, “You know, I could be wrong on this, maybe I’m not seeing this straight. This could be me not you, but here’s my observation. It seems to me that you become the authority on about everything in life. I see you badmouthing your friend, Aaron, who you’ve known for years whose been a good friend, and I hear things out of your mouth I find hard to believe. It’s just so negative and it just seems so self-centered around you.”
“And I have to tell you that that bothered me to see you continually dog so many people, and I just want to share with you my experience with that kind of thing. That tends to come back and bite you in the butt. Be careful what you say about other people. At your age, you don’t want to set that whole peer group against you. You need to live in harmony with your friends, and maybe it’s just taking the time to see the positive in people rather than the negative.”
I mean, whatever you’re going to say to that kid, you just say it in plain English. You set it up with, “I could be wrong.” You’re presenting the truth as softly as you can to a son or a daughter and then you back off. You don’t harpoon them, you don’t ride their tail about it. You’ve communicated a message that you wanted to communicate to your son or your daughter in a loving way.
Now you’ve got a son or a daughter who’s not coming home at night, who is not respectful of your car or whatever, then there’s some discipline things you step in and do, along the line of, “Dad’s not very happy. I got to go get in the car and I had to drive over to the next town and I look at the gas tank, it’s right on empty, in fact it’s below empty. I’m kind enough to let you use my car and you bring it home under empty? That’s not how I deal with people, that’s not how I deal in life and I especially don’t want to deal with you like this.”
“I’m going to cut you some slack, okay. I’m going to tell you that this is one that I’m going to let pass, but I want you to clearly hear what I say. The very next time that car comes empty or near empty, it will be the last time you will drive my car.” Now notice I didn’t put a time limit on it. I made that really clear, that’ll be the last time you’ll drive my car.
So sometimes with kids, you have to be real direct. Teenagers tend to be all over the place. They’re a little goofy for sure. They’re fun. We always had fun with our kids. We didn’t have any hassles of any magnitude raising our kids as teenagers, not a one. They were happy, good times. So for what it’s worth, that’s how I’d approach that Doug.
Doug: Well that’s such a good reminder. And you’ve told me this years ago that example, and to anybody that has teenagers, I cannot encourage you enough to do the soft … I could be wrong on this. This is what I’ve noticed. In my own personal life you told us to disclose how it negatively affected us and then walk away. And I’ve done that and six months or a year or two years later, they’ve come back and said, “You know, you told me that then. I thought you were rude and wrong but guess what, blah-blah-blah happened and I now see that it was right.”
And you just plant the seed. You can’t change them when they’re that age and let it grow. You’re totally right, it’s so good. I got to say it again because you said it, I just can’t walk away. I I know, I’m wrapping up Andrea. She’s like, “No, stop.” Andrea and I have had almost no problems with our teenagers either because of Have A New Kid By Friday changed the way we parented him when they were little, so that we could super enjoy them when they’re teenagers and we have way too much with teenagers right now, it is the best season ever.
We’re doing this because it’s worked in our life and we want you to be there too, so go get the book wherever ebooks are sold, please, for your sake. All righty, I’m done. We love adding the parenting toolbox so that you can enjoy those kids and love them a whole bunch and we’ll look forward to the next time we’re with you.
Andrea: Go have fun with those kids.
Doug: Yes, have a great time. Take care.