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When you have a powerful child on your hands, the word “no” can lose its effectiveness. Dr. Leman gives his advice on how to back up your ‘no’ in today’s “Ask Dr. Leman”.

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Andrea: Well I’m trying to implement A before B, but I just don’t know how long or what things to stick to. I have a powerful child and Dr. Leman keeps telling me I need to do this, but I just can’t do it.

Doug: That’s the question that actually you asked about Elizabeth and we get to answer that question today. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And if this is your first time with us. Hello, bello, bello. We are so glad that you’re with us. I 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, I am super excited that we have Elizabeth’s question today about how do I deal with what Andrea just said?

Andrea: Powerful child.

Doug: And how long do I have to deal with it. Here we go. Here is Elizabeth’s question.

Elizabeth: Hi Dr Leman. Thank you for listening. I have reared a powerful child, she’s six years old and I have a three and a half year old who is much easier to deal with. But trying to make some changes for both of them because I know they’ll both do better. But my question is in the books you recommend when a child is very disrespectful, I’m assuming yelling at me for example, hitting me, then you recommend saying no to the child’s requests. My question is how long does that go on for?

Elizabeth: Do I say no for days and days and days or just one day, just one hour, just two hours? And also what kind of requests do I say no to? For example, does she still get a bedtime story? I understand she should be contrite. I just wasn’t sure how long and what kind of requests do you recommend saying no to? For example, for my six year old, I mean, would I not serve her a plate for dinner? Would I have her get her own plate? Would I have her make her own food? I mean obviously I’m going to make sure she’s having food offered. Thank you so much for your time.

Dr. Leman: Well, Elizabeth, you sound like a good mom and I’ve talked with a lot of mommies who face those same questions that you have asked and you’ve raised a lot of them, but first of all, before we can have a discussion about what to do, you have to understand that you have created, you have taught that six year old how to be powerful, how to be perfectionistic, how to only accept life on her terms. And let me go back to a scene I witnessed just within this last year. In fact, a book that has not even been released yet to the public I just finished, it’s fresh in my mind.

Dr. Leman: And my wife and I were sitting in a Texas roadhouse and a young family came in. It was grandma, grandpa, husband, wife, baby and it looked like maybe an aunt or a cousin or something, another adult female. And they arrived at the table and the person who sat them had one of those wooden high chairs that you can invert upside down and put a carrier on it if you wanted to. You know what they look like. Well. Anyway, as they sat down and they put that little child into the… I can’t even say this without laughing, into the highchair. I began to chuckle inside and I said to myself, “Self, this is going to be good.”

Dr. Leman: And I could predict exactly what was going to happen. When they went to put this little child of about 13 months old into the chair, she reared up her legs, held them close to her body, that made it almost impossible to get her in there. So Dad, as I recall, straightened out her legs and plunked her down in there and a fussing ensued. I said to myself, “She’s out of there within 60 seconds.” And sure enough she was. Dad took her out, put little 13-month old on his lap. I thought, “Oh boy, I can see this.”

Dr. Leman: Well, little 13-month old became more distraught that she was on daddy’s lap and it was inevitable that it wasn’t another 90 seconds later. Oh, I left out a part. Dad tried to give her a little macaroni and cheese that he had ordered as they walked in the door because they wanted to give the baby something to eat. Well, he offered it to the baby and baby smashed it back in daddy’s face, upon which time mom came to the rescue and grabbed 13 month old. And the saga just continued. These are the seedlings of creating a powerful child. And what I’m saying to you is, and I know you’re a good mom, Elizabeth, you tried. You tried to make this little kid happy at every turn and was that a mistake? Yes. Because there’s times that kids need to be unhappy because of their own behavior or things they did.

Dr. Leman: Even a 13 month old is capable of striking out and attempting to hit you. All those little things. I understand they’re a part of life, but I want you to accept the possibility that maybe you’ve created this little 13 month old, I don’t want to call her a little monster that’s a little too much, but let’s just leave it a powerful child, it sounds better, more civilized. So you have to own up to that. This is the situation that you created. And how long did it take to get you full fledged to this point? Six years of training. So again, what I’m saying is children tend to train us, especially kids who have a powerful leaning in their life. But to create a powerful child, either mom or dad must also be powerful because that that’s how the kid learns the powerful behavior by modeling after you.

Dr. Leman: So with that as a backdrop, you’ve asked a lot of questions and you’ve heard me right? When a child disses you, you follow through and you’ve asked the question, is that immediately? Yes, the answer is immediately. Now there’s some situations, social situations where you can’t act immediately. You’re in a public place, you’re in a concert or in church or whatever, and it might be just ill-advised to act exactly seconds after the incident. But you could also pick up a child and leave and deal with it outside of the avenue that you find yourself. Hitting, for example, you mentioned hitting. A six year old hitting you. You would never tolerate that, for a second. That child, as soon as they hit you, needs to be removed from the scene, put in a space where she is alone. It can be your bedroom. You may have heard me say, “Hold the door.” And she’ll go crazy.

Dr. Leman: She’ll kick the door, she’ll scream and yell and have a major meltdown. Do not open that door until everything’s quiet. Once there’s quiet, you let her out. Ask her if she’s ready to join you. That’s all. But the very next request that she asked for, I don’t care what it is. The answer is no. “Mommy doesn’t feel like getting your glass of milk right now.” So you’re asking questions. Does that mean that she doesn’t get story time that night? Yeah. “Mom doesn’t feel like reading you a story tonight honey.” That’s all. Walk away. And she might cry and throw herself on the floor, just close the door and walk out. You say, well, she’ll come after me now if you’re holding the door, she won’t. She might fall asleep an hour later with her blankie under her arm at the door. So be it.

Dr. Leman: She’s learning by your action that you’re not going to tolerate her powerful like behavior. So those are a few openers Andrea and Doug you heard some of our other questions. Maybe if I missed something you can redirect me to address. But you have to at this point use action and not words.

Doug: Well before we follow up with our questions while we have a great break here, I thought this would be a good spot to do the ebook offer for all our listeners. It’s My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You. July nine through 15 for $1.999 where eBooks are sold. My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You. I’m embarrassed to say this Dr. Leman, I did not realize you wrote a book about how to deal with adopted children.

Dr. Leman: Yes, I have and in fact my daughter Hannah, by the way, she was the one I worried about of the five kids. She has developed into an entrepreneur. She adopted two African-American babies at birth. She has helped hundreds of people adopt children in a very easy and economical way. Adoption is a very expensive proposition for many. She has a company called kindred, K-I-N-D-R-E-D Incorporated out of Chicago, Illinois. And that adopted child book is so cute and it shares the loving aspects of adoption from the birth parents point of view as well as the adoptive parents’ point of view. And by the way, this is an ebook that we’re offering you. If you see that book anywhere in hardback, buy it. Just trust me, buy it. If there’s several of them, buy them all. Those are limited edition books.

Dr. Leman: They will become extremely valuable. Keep them in pristine condition if you buy new ones. If you buy a used one, keep it in as good a condition as you can and just wait, trust me on this one. Those are hard to find.

Doug: So you can get that book a July nine through 15 and now no-nonsense parenting advice from Dr. Leman.

Dr. Leman: I wish I could recite the Barney song. We have grandchildren that are young and so we do catch Barney once in a while. But one of the little songs is, everybody does their share clean up, clean up. Something along that line. You get the message. But you know, a home is the sum of a lot of different parts. It seems to me that a home that’s going to thrive, a home that’s going to connect, a home that’s going to move forward and be a pleasurable place for everybody is a place where mom and dad don’t do everything. In too many homes, mom and dad do everything and the kids live off as like freeloaders.

Dr. Leman: What I’m getting at is it’s healthy for every kid to contribute, for every kid to give back to the family. You say, “Well listen, our youngest is three. What’s a three year old going to do?” Well, a three year old can help stack dishes in a Washer, can take clean dishes out of a Washer, can empty wastebaskets. For some of you, they could do your math for you. Just kidding. Anyway, you get the picture. You want to teach kids to be responsible. How do you teach kids to be responsible by obviously giving them responsibility, and those responsibilities get bigger as the years go along. One thing I want to caution parents about, and yes everybody should contribute to the family, but what happens when a kid hits 14 and now they’re in high school and they’re getting more homework and maybe they are in that one activity, and time is really hard for that kid?

Dr. Leman: I think lighten up on the activities or the work that the kid does in the family. Let the younger kids pick up that slack. The older kids tend to get saddled with much more work than younger kids, so make sure you spread that out. But everybody cleans their room, everybody can pick up after themselves. There are just basic things that need to be done. If you want to go as far to assign certain responsibilities to different kids, I would suggest using a color chart, a magnet system on the refrigerator door or something where everybody sees what has to be done on a daily basis. That minimizes the reminders and the coxings and the bribings that you parents do so poorly, it doesn’t help. So make sure everybody does their work.

Dr. Leman: And of course you know this, you’ve listened to me long enough to know if the kid doesn’t clean his room and it’s way past time, yes, you as a parent can go in and clean it for him if you want to, paying yourself for doing it out of his or her allowance. Or you can hire a sibling to do it, which is even better. Paying that other sibling that money for paying her brother or sister’s room. Good luck work on this. This is an ongoing task for every family. Everybody does their part as Barney says.

Doug: So Dr. Leman, I think I’m one of Elizabeth’s core questions was how long does she have to say no for?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, that’s a great question Elizabeth. Thanks, and thanks Doug for the reminder. Different strokes for different folks. No one knows your child better than who, Elizabeth? You. And so for some kids, a whole day of mommy say no will be more than sufficient to get the kid’s attention. There are powerful children in this world who will tell you to your face, “You could do anything you want, but I’m not going to do what you asked me to do.” Those kids, the more defiant ones need a little bit more. So I would say, let your own maternal nose be your judge. For young children, it might be three or four different nos in a given day, maybe it’s a half a day and you’re back to normal. But do not be deceived by the child’s confession of, “I’m sorry.” Powerful children are great at using, I’m sorry, and they learn this real quickly in life as their answer all to get back to the status quo.

Dr. Leman: So if you’ve been suckered by that, then at least forewarn yourself that you can be used by a child’s premature, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that mommy. Would you forgive me?” With big tears in their eyes. My advice is yes, you can forgive them, but the next question they ask, “Can I have this or can we go here or there?” The answer is no. And that’s a way of really making sure that the kid’s I’m sorry was legitimate so to speak. So if you wait till the next day with a six year old, that’s okay. They can last a day of having the n word put to the test. That would be no.

Andrea: The other question she asked was, what kinds of things do I stick to? Do I’d make her fill her own plate, make her own meal?

Dr. Leman: Well yeah, she mentioned a lot of different things. A little phrase I like is, “Honey, you can handle that”, when she’ll come and ask for something or help. “Honey, I’m sure you can handle it.” That’s all. Walk away. In other words, there’s almost an art form in knowing how to react to some of these things. Do I tuck her in bed at night? You could. You might eliminate the story. Again, it’s sort of a touchy feeling. It’s an art form at that point. You know your child best, but don’t be suckered because of the guilt that’s welling up in you because you’ve said no to her so many times. Because if she’s not going to start changing today, tell me Elizabeth, what day will she start changing.

Doug: Dr. Leman I know I ask this question a lot, but I’ve just heard it from parents so often that I’ll just keep asking it. Praise God that moms are so soft and loving and sweet, but in the back of the mind they’ll say, “If I do this, my child will think I hate them and then I will hurt my relationship with them.” Right Andrea? Or whatever form of that takes, right? That if I do this… She’s shaking her head. You can’t hear that Dr. Leman.

Andrea: Sorry.

Doug: How do you answer that mom who’s definitely afraid of that happening?

Dr. Leman: Well, I would say if you’re a person of faith, you really believe what the Bible teaches us. It says that love and discipline are inseparable. You cannot love a child without discipline. So discipline is not only what we pass down to the child in terms of our action, discipline is having the grit inside of you to remain firm and not to cave in. And it’s hard not to cave in. These kids are cute, they’re adorable. They look like your mom. They look like your dad. She has your hair and unfortunately your nose. But I wouldn’t even go there. I mean, they’re your creation. They’re your flesh and blood in most cases. And I’m just saying discipline’s a two way street.

Dr. Leman: So you have to discipline yourself to know that this is good. Let me bring up inoculations, they’re in the news these days. Do inoculations hurt? Do kids cry? Do they fear needles? A lot of them do. My advice, inoculate your children. Is it easy to watch your kid cry? No, but it’s temporary. It goes away. They’ll live through it. You’re the quarterback in your life, parents. These are decisions you have to make, but do not let guilt deter you from using action.

Doug: So my final question is for Elizabeth, whose got a full life of a six and a three and a half year old, I think, is there a book in audio form that she could listen to while she’s chasing kids around that would help her gain the confidence to do this?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, all of my books, I don’t think there’s any books that don’t have adios attached to them anymore. So they’re all available. They’re usually about 20 bucks, 25 bucks and available on Amazon. Like when I go out and speak, I’ll be speaking in New York, in California, in Illinois, Ohio in the near future. I’ll take books with me many times because they want me to. They’ll always ask, “Why don’t you bring your audio books?” Well, we don’t bring them because the plastic cases they come in many times crack, and people don’t want to buy a cracked plastic case for whatever reason. I get it. So we just tell people, go online and pick them up. You can pick them up. They’re a little pricey, but for people who won’t take time to read a book or people who are just busy and want to pop a DVD in a television set or a CD, listen to it in the car, it’s perfect. There’s all kind of reasons-

Doug: Which ones would you recommend? Parenting Your Powerful Child and what else?

Dr. Leman: Parenting Your Powerful Child for sure. Have a New Kid by Friday. Making Children Mine Without Losing Yours. Planet Middle School if you got a middle schooler. Those guys are really weird. Have a New Teenager by Friday. Marvelous book. So again, there’s 60, I think there’s 63 Leman books out there. So if you need encouragement folks, they’re out there and I’m really not trying to hawk my book. Trust me, we sell plenty of books, but it’s a resource. I can promise you this, a Leman book will be practical. You’ll have lots of takeaway in every chapter, and you will tend to chuckle and laugh as you learn. That’s by design. I think learning should be fun at all levels.

Doug: I think they have updated recently Parenting Your Powerful Child and I would highly recommend you start there. If you resonate with what Elizabeth says, I’d go there and get the base of what you’re dealing with. So well, it was great to be with you and as always if you want to keep getting these podcasts, you can hit the subscribe button. You can also pass it on to others that you love and think it would help them. And we look forward to the next time we get to hang out with you and just give you more tools so that you love those kids more and more.

Andrea: Have a great week.

Doug: Take care. Bye Bye.

Andrea: Bye Bye.