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It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “Why isn’t A before B working for my 7-year-old?” Listen in to find out Dr. Leman’s answer.


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Doug: Dr. Leman has taught Andria and I an amazing concept, B does not happen before A. And if you don’t know what that is, we’ll tell you again. If you have heard it and you’re sitting there with your arms crossed thinking, “I don’t think it works,” well, Sally asked us today says, “It ain’t working for me.” And we get that to Dr. Leman, why is it not working for Sally? How come B before A isn’t working? But I got a hint. It might be. Hi, I’m Doug.

Andrea: I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are joining us today on the podcast. If this is your first time, we just want to say hello and we want to let you know that 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, it’s been a long, long, long, long, long time since I’ve asked this question. We pick up new listeners all time. Do you have any experience dealing with counseling individuals about parenting? Have you ever done that face to face? And if so, how long and what did you use to do?

Dr. Leman: Oh gosh. I started working with families in 1967, so you do the math. Let’s see. That’s 33 years that way and 19 years the other way, 33 and 19 is how many? Somebody said, “Oh my goodness, he’s going to die any second. I hope he finishes this podcast. He’s old.” Yes. I’ve been at this a long time folks coach.

Doug: How many books do you have out now? Two, three, four?

Dr. Leman: 63. In fact, I was in New York this summer and I saw a book. I said, now that’s a good title. I looked at it and I did a double-take because at the bottom it said, “Dr Kevin Leman, New York times bestselling author.” I thought, “Holy crow, I don’t remember that book. How can you forget a book?” But there’s 63 of them out there and my hope is I just never see one for a quarter at a garage sale. That would really break my heart. There’s a lot of them out there. Some are better than others. That’s just the way it is in life. But all of them are designed to help you and make you chuckle as you learn. So if you didn’t learn anything, it’s on me, and if you didn’t chuckle, it’s on me. I’ll take both hits. There you go.

Doug: Well, I just wanted people again, to have the confidence that you’ve done this. You’re not just a book writer, but you used to sit down face to face with couples and help them through all sorts of, not only parenting, but marriage as well. So there you go, guys. We’re talking to a guy who has seen a lot and has stayed really relevant. He’s running schools, charter schools around the world and so he’s engaged in kids’ lives today, still to this day. So that’s why we get to do and that’s why we love it. Today we get to do one of my favorite things, which is when you record your questions, that we get to ask Dr. Leman. If you want to leave a question for him, you go to and go to, I think it’s podcast/podcast questions and you can leave a question. So here we go. We get to hear Sally’s question for Dr. Leman.

Sally: Hi Dr. Leman. We have an almost seven year old who is pretty angry at times and when we ask him to do something, he will almost always respond with an angry no. We try A before B but the delay in his getting what he wants [inaudible 00:03:45]. And having a bad attitude and sometimes having violence to myself, my husband or his brother or sister. I just wonder what would do to improve his attitude and [inaudible 00:00:04:06]. Thank you.

Dr. Leman: Well, first of all, Sally has to understand something. She and her husband have created a powerful child. Seven year olds who are angry and violent don’t get there by being out in the sun too long or drinking water or whatever. They’ve learned to become powerful because they have authoritarian people around them. They take their cues from us and if there’s ever a theory, an approach that works with kids, it’s this one. It’s so simple, that B doesn’t happen until A gets completed. The fact that he is so explosive when he learns that there’s a consequence, tells me all right, the diagnosis is this is a powerful child. And will the powerful child, like a fish out of water, test your metal? Yes. He’s not only an attention getter, he’s going to make you pay attention. Well, how do you make parents pay attention?

Dr. Leman: Well, how bout being nasty and loud and boisterous and say hurtful things? How bout being violent or destroying things? That’ll get your attention. When you follow through, and because a child didn’t do something, he comes and asks. He comes and ask and you had asked him to do something earlier in the day and it’s still not done. And you say to him very matter-of-factly, “Johnathon, the answer to your question is no. You were asked to pick up your room this morning, and I see it’s still a mess.” Now, the smart, powerful child will say, “Oh my goodness, I forgot,” which is a flat out lie, but at least he’s smart saying, “Hey, I forgot.” He’s going to go and he’s going to clean his room up. He’s going to say, “Mom, I cleaned my room. Can I go now?” And the smart mom will say, “Well, no, you can’t go now because the problem is you really didn’t clean it when I asked you to. I asked you to clean it six hours ago, not now.”

Dr. Leman: Again, that powerful kid, because he feels like he’s the center of the universe, he’ll kick your shins, he’ll roll on the floor, he’ll tell you, “You’re the worst parent in the world. I hate you. I’m going to run away.” They’ll tell you anything to try to put you on your heels. So it’s really important that you keep your cool, Sally, that you don’t get flustered. Your yes is yes, your no is no. You’ve already said no and you stick to your guns, and nothing basically happens until he does what you asked him to do. Let me give you something fresh off my computer just this week. A woman writes a question to me and she says, “We just don’t know what to do. We’ve got this wonderful kid. He’s never given us any problems. He’s now 13 years old. He told both of us to shut up and we don’t know what to do.”

Dr. Leman: This is so out of character, and I wrote back, okay, then let’s shut up. The next time he ask to be driven to the mall, just shut up, turn your back and walk away. The next time he ask $20 for something he needs at school, leave your wallet, stay where it is and walk away, and tell him no. He’ll get the idea. He’ll come and say, “What is wrong with you? I need $20 for this. I need to go here. I need to go there.” And that’s when you slip on the commercial announcement that says, “Listen, we don’t like the way you shut your mouth off at us. We don’t think that’s how kids should talk to parents. We don’t like that. So, that doesn’t work in our home.” The kid will get the message and my question to everybody listening, if you do that and you’re consistent with that for an afternoon, a day or whatever, what’s a kid going to do?

Dr. Leman: I think he’s going to come around and say something to the effect of, “Mom, dad, I’m sorry about what I said,” and then we reestablish the relationship. We issue forgiveness and grace and life goes on. Kids are dumb. They’re going to say all kinds of dumb, stupid things. That’s not the first or last dumb thing your kid’s going to say. So I’m just saying there’s not a better principal to put in your life on a daily basis. You have kids, is that B does not happen until A gets completed. It just reeks of responsibility. Keeps the tennis ball life, as I like to say, on the right side of the court, and it works. So all of the atrics that’s coming in your home, Sally, is really his way of saying I don’t like it when you’re a good parent.

Andrea: I just have to clarify something in my own mind. You use the example of the child not cleaning their room and then they go and do it because mom says, “Oh no, you can’t do B because you didn’t clean your room.” So they go and clean their room and then she still says no because you didn’t do it when I asked. So A is not that one particular instance. It’s that you’re showing me that you’re going to listen to me and do what I say, what I ask you to do the first time at that time. Because I think I would fall into that category. Oh great.

Dr. Leman: Let me give compassionate mom. That would be you, Andria. It’s a little added information that you can put in your parental toolbox. You can say, “Honey, I appreciate the fact you did that, but you know what? I needed you to do that six hours ago. And so as far as your request to do this or do that, I’ll tell what? I’ll think about it overnight and I’ll give you an answer tomorrow. How’s that?” So see, you’re just building in another level that says, listen, there’s a consequence. Maybe it was something like, would you run in the baby’s room and get me a pamper? And the kid doesn’t respond. So you have to get up, you leave your baby on the rug, you got to walk back to the back bedroom, get the pamper, come back, no harm done. The kid’s still there. We’re happy about that.

Dr. Leman: But it’s a huge inconvenience. But it also lends, I think, some support to, when we ask kids to do things, sometimes when you do it is really important. It’s not helpful for me two hours later for you to run and get a pamper. I don’t need a pamper now. I needed it two hours ago. I wasn’t happy about the fact you just didn’t seem to listen to me. You sort blew me off and you continued playing with your Legos. I felt like I didn’t exist in the room and it wasn’t a good feeling. And as your mom, I’m here to tell you, I never want to feel like that. So again, I call that establishing a quality that you’re telling your child that mom has feelings. Dad has feelings too. We’re not just objects that are here to serve you. And again, keep in mind what we’re teaching kids is they’re not the center of the universe. Other people count in life. So if that helps, does that help soothe your feathers there mama [inaudible 00:10:14]? I better be careful, Doug.

Andrea: Yes.

Dr. Leman: It seems she will come after me here if I’m not careful.

Andrea: I think it’s pretty hard.

Dr. Leman: All right, we love you. You know that, Andria.

Doug: Oh yeah, you couldn’t see it on the air, but I was laughing at her and she’s like, “But you do the same things.”

Andrea: And he admits that. Yes, he does the same thing.

Doug: Does that sooth your feathers?

Andrea: It makes sense. But see what I’m thinking is the kids are going to be like, because they probably been trained, “Okay, now. All right, I’ll go do that so now I can get onto B.” So really what it shows is the importance of training them from the beginning that I mean A now and then we move on down the letters.

Doug: Okay. Before I come back and ask a follow up question to that, because I forget this, I want to make sure I get the ebook offer in today. So the ebook offer for you is Have a New Husband by Friday, October 15 to 31 of 2019 for $2.99, Have a New Husband by Friday. Dr Leman, I almost hate to ask this question, but I will. What is this lousy, no good, horrible book about?

Dr. Leman: Well, thank you for asking, Doug. It’s literally one of my favorite all time books. Some books quite frankly are just more fun to do than others, but this is a book, Doug, that every man should really like and love and want his wife to read, because among other things in this book, Have a New Husband by Friday, I teach women why it’s so important not to ask your husband questions. Why it’s so important not to use the why word. What your husband needs more than else from you.

Dr. Leman: This is a wonderful book that teaches women who are the relational gurus of life. I’ll give you that, ladies, you’re like that little energizer bunny of communication. You just keep going, but I’m just telling you as straight out as I can. The great majority of you, the huge majority of you do not understand how your husband thinks, and this is a book designed to help you have a new husband because the changes that you’re going to make in your life are going to bring forth a husband who’s going to be much more tuned into your feelings. He’s going to be much more apt to listen to you. So this is one of those books where you see the title of it. It’s a little deceiving. It should be called Have a New You by Friday, Mama. But anyway, it’s a good book for 2.99. I would tell all my friends about that one.

Doug: Andy and I have been married 21 years and we are still learning how much we didn’t understand about what the other person thought. So if you want to skip 21 years of having to bang your head against the wall to learn something, get Have a New Husband by Friday for $2.99 October 15th to Halloween of 2019, October 31st. Now a no nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: I’m going to share with you one of my favorite scriptures. The book of John is my favorite book in the Bible. And if you’re not in the Bible, just chill and you can listen if you want or not. But it’s Jesus’ first miracle in Canaan, Galilee and they run out of vino at a wedding. They run out of wine. And I love this because Jesus mother is there and his mother, Mary, comes to Him and says, “Hey son, do your thing. They’re out of wine.” Jesus looks at his mother and he’s not happy. In fact, I think he’s irritated and he says to his mother, “Woman,” calls his mother, woman, “Woman, what are you to do with me?” He separates himself from his mom. Well, what does this smart Jewish mother… And we can all learn from the wisdom of a smart Jewish mother, trust me.

Dr. Leman: What does this smart Jewish mother say to her son Jesus? Does she say, “What did you say? Do you know who you’re talking to, young man? You’re talking to your mother. You know I gave birth to you when I was 14 and a half years of age, you ungrateful little smut?” No, that’s not what the Bible says. This smart Jewish mother turns to the steward and says, “Do whatever my sons tells you to do.” I’m telling you, she is like the pro tennis player who just slam the tennis ball back on a Jesus side of the court. That’s what you and I have to be good at as parents, putting the tennis ball back on the right side of the court. “Mom, where’s my shoes?” “Sweetheart, with God as my judge, I haven’t worn your shoes in several days.” You can put some humor in it.

Dr. Leman: Kids will always be working you. They think somehow you’re their mop. You mop up things for them. You find things for them. You do everything for them. And so I need some of you to become not such a good mom, if you know what I mean, to really be helpful to your son, to your daughter. Learn how to put that tennis ball live back in the court. And by the way, Jesus did end up changing the water into wine. As a sidebar, the guy tasted it as, “Wow, you’re not like most.” Wow, he got that right. He says, “Usually, the guy brings the good wines out at first, but later when everybody is full and doesn’t carry, brings out the cheap wine. But you have saved the best for last.” Your thought for the day. Almighty God gave us the perfect one in his son Jesus. The rest of us, we’re very imperfect, but we’re learning and that’s why we listen to these podcasts, don’t we? So do the best you can to keep that tennis ball alive in your son or daughter’s side of the court.

Doug: So the question out of the break is not for Dr. Leman, but it is for Andria.

Andrea: I don’t like being put on the spot.

Doug: I know you don’t. So you are Uber empathetic, Uber mercy, right? That’s your gifts to everybody. But what do you need to know in your heart to apply this? What do you need to know that this is the right? I’m not going to hurt my child. They’re still going to love me. I’m still a good mom if I hold them accountable to this.

Andrea: Right. That in the end or maybe next year, that this will be built into them and they will understand the value of listening like Dr. Leman talked about in the last podcast and following through right out of the gates. And I think in my mind, I’m trying to draw the line between being authoritarian. How do you do that without coming across as the authoritarian parent? That’s for you, Dr. Leman.

Dr. Leman: You’re not getting off the hook that easy. I want you to restate your position on this.

Andrea: I think it’s hard. Generally, my kids are really compliant. So it’s hard when there’s something good out there that they’re not going to get to do and it’s very hard not to give in and say, okay, they finally did it. So now we can, or I’ll just smooth the waters and I will do the such and such because tomorrow, I’m going to pay because they had to be up late doing the dishes and I now have to deal with a tired, grumpy person. So it’s easier for me to give in. But what I have to know, what Doug is trying to get out of me, is that this is going to pay off and it’s very hard for me to swallow that in the moment.

Dr. Leman: Well, you did. You always do good. Trust me. I wrote a book once called Smart Women Know When to Say No, and I talk about the pleasing personality in that book. And pleasers please others so much that it ends up being a detriment to their own personal growth and certainly have a hard time answering the question, who am I? Because they involve themselves so thoroughly and divest their energies in other people’s lives. It’s hard for them to delineate their mind, who I am. I think you do the right thing. I think you tell yourself, “You know what? This was difficult for me knowing my personality, but you know what? I did the right thing and in the long run, this is going to help my son, going to help my daughter function through life a little better, because I was brave enough to do something that isn’t really easy for me to do. That’s not my personality.”

Dr. Leman: I’ll never forget. My wife was on a jury and the guy flat out, stole something from a store. I mean, he was absolutely guilty. I mean, he was caught red handed. Well, I just thought well, maybe he just forgot. With four things under his coat, he forgot. Her all inclination is to always give that person a second or a third choice. Well, the guy beat the rap. For all I know, he’s in state penitentiary today. Maybe if they would have convicted him of that minor crime, he would’ve got his life turned around. I just think that we have so little accountability built into our system today. Politically, I mean, take a look at what’s going on in our country. It’s crazy. There doesn’t seem to be any accountability and we are divisive to the nth degree.

Dr. Leman: And so when a parent makes a tough choice, that’s difficult for them. I just don’t think they have a choice other than to say, “I did the right thing. This is good for my child. It’s good for my kid.” I mean, how many of you dread taking your kids for inoculations? And seeing those little guys squirm and cry and all of that. I mean, you do that because the great, huge majority of people, professional and otherwise, feel those inoculations are good for kids. So you do some things that are tough as a parent because you love your kids and your personality is just such that it makes it a little bit more difficult than maybe the person next to you. But you do the right thing and so you self-talk. You’d tell yourself, “Hey, I’m okay. This is good. It’s going to be all right.” If you’ve got an encouraging husband, which you do have, he comes along side and sort of reinforces that, life goes on.

Andrea: He’s the one that’s able to tell the line for A before B.

Doug: Well, thank you Andria for being real and vulnerable. I think there’s a lot of others that are gracious and thoughtful like you and like me, and that really helps them out. And thank you Dr. Leman for again giving us this super easy reason to hang on to this concept and not give in to our kids and to help them out. Like it’s helped us out so much to be able to realize no, you don’t get to go play with your friends because you did not do the dishes. It just like it’s so, and that we are training our child so that they are responsible later down the roads and we’ve launched two kids now and both of them have come back to us already and said, “Mom and dad, thank you for teaching us to be responsible because we get our stuff done and we get to go play and without drama, and we see people around us that don’t do it and there’s so much drama in their life that’s unnecessary.” So your kids will probably even thank you for that.

Dr. Leman: Here’s another little one liner I love to use and that is grant and fantasy, what you can’t in reality. Sometimes when you explain to a kid, especially a kid that’s 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 years of age, you can say to them, “Honey, it’d be great if you could go to that event. You’d have a great time. But unfortunately, based on the fact that you didn’t do some simple things that we asked you to do today, the answer is no. So do I feel bad that you’re unable to go? I do, but I feel really good about the fact that I’m doing what I need to do and that is hold you accountable for the decision that you made. That wasn’t a decision that I made. So you can get mad at me, you can get angry at me, but that is displaced because you should be angry with yourself because you had an opportunity to do what I asked you to do. It was a very simple task. You chose not to do it and now you don’t like paying the consequence.”

Dr. Leman: “Well, I got news for you. Everybody that gets pulled over by a cop and get cited for speeding, most of them are not praising the efficiency of the officer. They’re angry and they’re mad, which is costing them 240 bucks but it’s a lesson in life.” So anyway, I’m just saying there’s a lot of ways to skin the proverbial cat. Being a parent is not a popularity contest. You need to be the parent, you have to make tough decisions. You got to stick to your guns and your kids will live through it. Gives them psychological muscles.

Doug: So I want to wrap up by giving you again the ebook promotion. Have a New Husband by Friday for $2.99, October 15 to 31 of 2019. And if this is a new concept to you, I can’t demand, but I can beg, go out and buy the book, Have a New Kid by Friday right now as well and read it. And you’ll get this whole concept, not just this one phrase and then you’ll be able to go, “Oh, I see why I want to do this.” Or Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. Or if you have a powerful child like this, like Sally does, go get Parenting Your Powerful Child. I don’t get any royalties. I get nothing. I want you to be able to love those kids and enjoy them. I’m telling you, Andy and I think our teenage years are the best years because we have applied all these principles and they just work and they make it so much fun to parent.

Doug: Well, it was great to be with you. And Sally, thank you for the question. We love these questions. Keep them coming, and we look forward to the next time we get to be with you.

Andrea: Have a good week.

Doug: Take care.

Andrea: Thanks. Bye. Bye.