You Were A Spoiled Brat — Here’s How to Grow Up

At three years of age, Ron was a terror. He basically got what he wanted, not by crying for it, but by waging war. He could not be grabbed fast enough to discipline. He stuck his tongue out at his mother when she tried to teach him right from wrong. He sassed her by poking his rear end out of his pants and laughing before he ran away. At five, he was kicking his parents if they tried to discipline him. They gave up. They told themselves, “He’ll grow out of it.” That was a big mistake. Why would he grow out of it? He had no incentive to do so and got whatever he wanted by being a terror. Why Spoiling a Child is Child Abuse Ron was smart, and school came easy to him. As he got older, he thought going to class once in a while, taking the test cold, and acing it was funny, so he did it for laughs. He got away with the absences because he played football; he made a name for the school. Ron was also a good-looking boy. Although they seemed like assets, his smarts and his looks were really curses because they enabled him to get away with things. He never learned responsibility. Vivian, a lovely woman he met in college, fell in love with him, intelligent and attractive as he was. And he had that air of certainty and all-knowingness that women find appealing. He had learned to be “nice” by observing that if you act in a particular way, you usually get what you want: that’s charm,...

Why People Don’t Apologize and What to Do About It

It’s amazing how many people can’t seem to apologize. Here are some reason that this might happen: They grew up in homes where people were blamed whenever things went wrong. Therefore, apologizing is not only an admission that they did something wrong—which they probably heard too much of in their lives already—but it’s opening themselves to being the target of blame. Would you start lacing into them? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter; they’re just afraid of it. Even when their logical mind knows better, people like this don’t want to put themselves in a place that feels icky because of past associations. They grew up in homes where they were perfect; they could do nothing wrong. Now, you know that can’t be true; no one is perfect. But some people were never told that. This can happen because parents are genuinely afraid to discipline their children or because they honestly don’t see anything wrong with the behavior. Either way, the child honestly doesn’t know that he or she did something wrong. To educate a person of either type in trying to help a marriage is very challenging. When you try to explain that the person in Category 1 did something wrong, they automatically slide into victim mode; they feel like they’re being blamed. This makes them defensive and sometimes they pre-emptively attack you, adding more injury on top of whatever it was in the first place. A person in Category 2 is just as difficult to teach. Such a person has no comprehension of what you’re talking about. They are likely to say, “No, I didn’t” when you...

The Art of Positive Discipline

I had a whiny little girl in my office the other day. It was clear to me the mother had gotten used to all that irritating behavior. Not that she liked it. Just put up with it. You could see she was unhappy and stressed. I stopped my conversation with her and turned to her daughter. “Laura,” I said, “You’re going to have to stop whining because I can’t hear your mommy.” That only worked for about three minutes. So [drumroll, please] in came the consequence. Use Natural Consequences I told her, “I know you really want to leave. However, I need to speak to mommy. And I will speak to mommy. But if I can’t hear her or she can’t hear me, I’ll have to stop and wait for you to quiet down before we can continue. So your noise will make the whole visit take that much longer.” Well, folks, you could hear a pin drop. That child just turned into an angel in front of my eyes! Her mom beamed, I’ll tell you. And by the way, she was only four. She understood. Clear as a bell. Clever Way To Explain Time Out Some time later, she–quietly–started kicking the chair. I chose not to address her again because that would have paid entirely too much attention to her misbehavior. As she was sitting right next to her mom, I said to the mother: “Now that is a good illustration of when to use time out. You put her in that corner right there for four minutes. Get a big portable kitchen timer and set it.” The...

5 Strategies for a Better Parent Child Relationship

Here’s an excerpt from a textbook. It’s about a parent who is not in synch with his or her child: “Such a parent would have moments of intrusiveness that appeared to be emotional invasions into the infant’s state of mind. These were generally not hostile in nature; a parent might suddenly grab a happliy playing child and shower him with excited hugs and kisses without warning, disrupting the child’s focus of attention and state of mind. That is, the parent would try to be connected, but in a way that was not contingent to the child’s communication.” #1- How To Get In Synch The parent is not on the same page. Yes, parents have to move over to their child’s page, not the other way around, starting in infancy. Parents who have no history of being treated with any sensitivity at all will have a hard time with this. But–here’s the clincher–giving up is not an option! That’s one more job of a parent. Here is how to practice getting more and more able to “read” what page someone is on (You can do this with adults or children; doesn’t matter): Step 1: Guess what they’re thinking/experiencing at the moment and explain to yourself why you think so. Step 2: Check it out with the person. In a very casual way, just say, “You know, I want to be a more aware person. I’m trying to understand you a little better, so I hope you’ll help me. What I’m trying to do now is guess how you feel and why. Can I run by you what I came up...

Parenting: 11 Rules of Positive Discipline

For children to want to listen, they must feel loved. Discipline without love is worthless. For children to grow up to love themselves, they must learn responsibility. Both love and discipline are necessary for healthy, happy children. Rule #1 – See The World Through His Eyes One thing they do which backfires is to minimize what is important to their child. If being in the in-crowd is important and she wasn’t asked to a party, that hurts. If he wasn’t chosen for the team, that hurts. Don’t ever act like it’s not and they should get over it. That would be the same as telling you, “Oh, your boss fired you today? Well, it’s not important! Get over it!” Each person is entitled to see the world through his or her own eyes. Rule #2 – Give Constructive Criticism with Plenty of Praise Let’s ask the following question: How necessary is constructive criticism? To answer it, imagine you are helping a child with math. What will work better, pointing out how he got the idea right in two or three places, or saying over and over, “that’s wrong, that’s wrong”? The truth is, he does need to be told when he does it wrong, just so he doesn’t accidentally think it is right. But you know from experience that he will become demoralized if everything seems to be wrong. SOMETHING’s got to be right! John Gottman, the eminent researcher, found that people need 5 positives for every negative. So, yes, you sometimes can’t avoid constructive criticism, but make sure there’s 5 constructive praises for every one of them. What...

8 Secrets For Getting Your Defiant Child To Cooperate

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News “She stands there and sasses me,” the poor young mother cried. “She won’t go to time out. What can I do?” Time out is an effective way to turn behavior in school-age children around, but it must be part of a comprehensive program of positive discipline. Here are secrets that you would not have realized are absolutely necessary to get your child on your side.  Secret #1 -Time Out Is Painful. It Is A Partial Rejection Of The Child. It Can Therefore Only Be Instituted Successfully When You Are Connected to Your Child In a negative environment, the child is simply going to tune out the purveyor of that negativity. Can you blame her? No one wants a steady dose of unpleasant interaction. Either the child will tune out, leave, or sass. Those are the three sure signs that the environment has been negative.   The antidote is to build on a foundation constructed with a strong connection with your child. The relationship with your child, if it’s good, has the resilience to overcome little bouts of negative experiences such as routine punishments and scoldings. Take the time to listen to your child. That is the single most important building block of a good relationship. After all, is it quite fair for you to expect him to listen to you when you don’t listen to him? The theory that children don’t like to talk to their parents is nonsense. I raised four and there were no such obstacles between us. Right now, it may be he won’t tell you anything but...

You’re Going To Be A Role Model For Your Child So Be A Good One

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News, p. 22. My son hunches over that computer day after day and I fear he’ll develop a curvature. “Exercise!” I say and I get the rolled eyeballs. “Where in the world does he get that from?” I wonder. Ha! I know the answer only too well. He gets his focus on his work from yours truly. He gets putting his work first above exercise from yours truly, too. I remember the time he decided to lift weights. I was ecstatic. “Now the mold will be broken,” I thought. Now, he’s taking care of his health unlike his mother who always had to force herself to exercise. (Let’s not talk about his father who never even got far enough to consider forcing himself to exercise, let alone doing it.) I was so wrong. When push came to shove, he stopped pushing and his work came first. Not two minutes to work out. “Can’t you lift weights for ten minutes?” I ask. “Surely you can make ten minutes.” “Won’t mean a thing, ten minutes,” he sighed, exasperated with his nagging mother. Just like me. If I can’t find a half hour to take my wonderful walk, I admit the truth, I just skip it. And we all know, especially me, how important that walk is. Especially at my age. But what about at his age? “Wait a minute, DrDeb,” you’re probably saying, “Aren’t you proud that your son has such a great work ethic?” Oh, I am. I am. I’m just saying that being a great role model is a double-edged sword. They...

DON’T Let Children Solve Their Own Problems

Picture the scene: Several 5 year olds are playing in the park. One of them thinks a toy/ball/whatever of his/hers has been unfairly taken by another. He/she starts to hit/attack the would-be thief. The parents are clustered at the edge of the play area, talking and laughing. The noise level from the group of children elevates and one parent looks around at the children screaming at each other. Her eyebrow goes up and she remarks that the kids are going at each other. Another parent, puffed up with his brand of wisdom says, “Let the kids work it out.” If that isn’t the most god-awful stupid parenting advice, none beats it. So, I decided that this parent, we’ll call him Jim, needs to learn a lesson. He needs to be the victim of his own “wisdom.” Let’s go back to last night: It’s 3 A.M. and Jim and his wife are sleeping. The doorbell rings. The police are at the door and they walk in right past him. They ignore his requests for information and proceed to search his house. He is pretty upset, frightened, and confused at this point. Next, they arrest him. He gets to the police station where his plea, “I want to speak to a lawyer,” is met with, “No, sir. You have to work it out.” Not the same situation? Wrong! It most certainly IS the same situation: Two people who don’t have a clue how to resolve a difficulty are left helpless, with no assistance, no advice, no TOOLS. One is 5 and needs adult guidance and one is 50 and needs legal...

How Do You Discipline a 20-Year Old?

Your child is not, technically, a child any more; he or she is 20, over age in a couple of states; past the age of consent in others. But he needs discipline; boy, does he. What do you do? There are two answers to this. One is: You better do it; it’s never too late. And the other is that you actually have a few things going for you that you didn’t earlier. So if the first answer is that you better do it, the real question is how? You certainly can’t yell, fight, threaten, or “lose it” or you may as well throw in the towel. How to do it? — With the least display of emotion, the most neutral tone, you take away what you can, such as the car keys and money. You don’t do his laundry any more or cook his meals. No explanation, no discussion, no threats, nothing. Now pay attention to the strategy here: If you don’t go lecturing and threatening, you just take it away, then he’ll have to come after you asking what’s going on. See? And your reply? — Very cool. Something like, “I’m really sorry. You know I wanted to lend you the car. I got a tickle out of thinking how you’d matured and you were responsible and all. And then you went out with that Rob, after you assured me you wouldn’t, and, I just don’t feel secure and safe lending you the car. Believe me, I’m more disappointed than you are.” When you don’t deliver the message with anger, he has nothing to fight about. When...
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