Living With Children

 

I truly believe that a Mommy who decorates her home should also decorate her SOUL!  I am so excited to share with you our newest contributor to MommyDecorates.com blog.  We are very pleased to announce that John Rosemond will be contributing helpful family and parenting advice as well as articles to our blog each week.   He is a family psychologist and he is one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. Please take a few minutes each week to read his articles that we will post, and I pray that you will be blessed!

 

Article 12

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

 

Q:        Our 9-year-old daughter is going to the fourth grade next school year. She loves school and has always done very well. She recently took a series of tests and we’ve learned that she qualifies for the gifted and talented program. When we told her, she became very upset and told us she doesn’t want to accept the promotion. We tried to explain the advantages, but she just became more upset. She says none of her friends are in the gifted program and she doesn’t want to be there either. The school counselor says we should not let her make the decision. What should we do?

 

A:        In most cases, and especially at the elementary level, the programs in question are examples of what are known as “pull-out” programs. The children in GT programs attend regular classes and are then pulled out of class three to five times a week for enrichments of various sorts. I am unable to find any compelling research to the effect that these programs result in long-term intellectual or academic advantage. Their ultimate benefit, therefore, is questionable.

            When my daughter, Amy, was in the fifth grade, she qualified as a GT student. My wife and I sat down with her, explained the short list of pros and cons, and allowed her to make the decision. She told us exactly what your daughter told you: her friends were not in the program; therefore, she didn’t want to be there either. The school was disappointed, but they got over it, and Amy went on to be an honors student at the University of North Carolina.

            I speculate that your daughter doesn’t want the attention that would come from being pulled out of class by the GT teacher. She is concerned that her “special” status might not sit well with her friends. Unfortunately, her anxiety is probably warranted. Since the efficacy of such programs has not been demonstrated, since they are obviously not necessary to a successful life, however one might measure that, I’d say let your daughter make the decision.

            “But what if she later regrets it?”

            Good. Then she has to deal with the issue of personal responsibility, and she is not too young to have to do so. It is controlled exercises in decision-making of exactly this sort that cause children to become more far-sighted and weigh pros and cons rather than simply making decisions on the basis of feelings and impulses.

            Regardless of outcome, being allowed to make decisions and learn from the mistakes that are inevitable to that process is an important part of growing up. In the emotional sense, it is the very thing of growing up.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions at www.rosemond.com.

Article 11

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

 

Q:        My 3-year-old started preschool 3 days a week (private sitter other two days) about 2 months ago. He did great. However, this week he began being defiant and not following directions. Then he kicked, screamed, and spit at his teachers. He was sent to the “principals” office twice in the past three days. We’ve taken away his blankie and bicycle and put him in his room for about 30-45 minutes each day. We talked to him about why this is unacceptable but we are afraid this might be the beginning of a new phase. Any discipline suggestions to stop this?

 

A:        Discipline suggestion number one is to stop talking to him about why his behavior is unacceptable, alternatives, good choices, and the like. You’re certainly in the majority, but to a 3-year-old, a long-winded explanation is nothing but blah, blah, blah. He may listen. He may even act like he understands. He may even nod his head when asked “Do you understand?” and shake his head when asked “Now these sorts of unacceptable bad choices aren’t going to happen again, are they?” He may not be clear on what you’re trying to tell him, but he knows how to make incessant talking stop.

            The further problem with explanations is they sound persuasive as opposed to authoritative. In this case, an explanation as to why certain of his classroom behaviors are unacceptable is likely to come off as if you are beseeching him to please stop kicking, screaming, and spitting. As evidence of this, parent explanations often end with the very squishy word “Okay?” They are examples of what I call “wimp speech.”

            Discipline suggestion number two is that you simply repeat to him what happened that day, as in, “You kicked the teacher when she told you to pick up your toys; you screamed at her when she told you to stop running; and you spit at her when she was walking you over to time-out.” Make it clear, and make it to the point. He will understand a concrete description of that sort. Better still, he will realize that you are backing the teacher’s authority in the classroom. Declarative statements of that sort are examples of what I call “leadership speech.”

            Discipline suggestion number three is that you begin using consequences that, from your son’s point of view, are HUGE. Taking away his bicycle and confining him to his room for 30 to 45 minutes is akin to trying to stop a charging elephant with a fly swatter. Out of concern for making sure the punishment “fits” the crime, today’s parents are apt to use consequences that are ineffectual. The only punishment that fits a crime is one that stops the crime from happening. So, after making a statement along the lines of discipline suggestion number two, put him in his room for the rest of the day and put him to bed immediately after dinner. That will make an impression on him. Five to ten such impressions should be sufficient to restore his formerly good classroom behavior.

            Discipline suggestion number four is that you cut him absolutely no slack. One classroom incident results in confinement to his room and early bedtime. To stop this charging elephant, you must make it perfectly clear that you will tolerate absolutely no misbehavior at school.

            Discipline suggestion number five is that you get rid of the flyswatters…forever. Your parenthood will be a whole lot happier, believe me.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.

Article 10

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

 

Q:        Our son’s fifth birthday is in August. He did just fine, socially and academically, in preschool, but the counselor at the school he’s slated to attend has recommended that we hold him back a year because of his late birthday. She says that kids with late birthdays, especially boys, do better if they’re given an extra year of maturation before starting school. What do you think?

 

A:        The practice of postponing Kindergarten for so-called “late birthday” children—generally defined as children having birthdays after May—got its start about twenty years ago and has generated the usual unintended consequences. Prime among those is the fact that by delaying the start of school for children having birthdays after May, schools only create a new crop of children with late birthdays—those occurring after January.

            It’s true that during early elementary school, boys are less mature in several respects than girls. In general, their attention spans tend to be shorter. Therefore, they’re more impulsive and more easily distracted. It’s also true, however, that some children, boys as well as girls, experience developmental “spurts” during Kindergarten. The slightly immature, impulsive 5-year-old may be at the norm one year later.

            As a result of this rather uniform recommendation, a disproportionate number of late-birthday children are given test batteries to further determine their readiness for school. The fact is, however, that the predictive reliability of IQ tests and other measures of ability is questionable with children this young. And when such tests are off the mark with a given child, they tend to be lower rather than higher.

            The late-birthday recommendation is also influenced by the test score mania that currently grips American schools, public and private. Giving close to 20 percent of children an extra year of preschool is bound to raise overall test performance during the early elementary school years.

            For a number of reasons, classroom discipline has relaxed considerably since the 1960s. This has unharnessed the impulsivity and distractibility of boys, especially. I have to believe that this contributes significantly to the fact that disproportionate numbers of boys are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder during early elementary school. If the hypothesis is true, then some kids are being medicated primarily because school discipline isn’t what it used to be. Holding late-birthday kids back a year may mitigate this problem somewhat, but it fails to address the larger issue.

            My general feeling is that if a child’s birthday allows him to attend school, and the child doesn’t have obvious developmental delays, then he should attend school. If at the end of that school year, his teacher recommends an additional year in Kindergarten, then leave him in Kindergarten. One of my grandchildren spent two years in Kindergarten and he’s now a nearly straight-A student in high school. That second year gave him lots of confidence he wouldn’t have obtained by spending another year in preschool.

            North Carolina family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.

Article 9

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

            “Are you trying to tell me something?” I asked my pre-teen grandson.

            “Um, uh, yes.”

            “Then don’t use that word. You know how I feel about it.”

            “Okay.”

            And the conversation proceeded from there, unimpaired by repeated insertions of “like” into every sentence, as in, “I, um, like, wanted to go to like the soccer game but like i wasn’t like able to because like I had to stay home and like do my homework.”

            I will tolerate repetitious misuses of “like” when I’m talking with a person with whom I have no interest in relationship (e.g. a salesperson, albeit I file the conversation under “Try Not to Patronize These Places of Business”) but I will not tolerate even one such misuse with my grandchildren. Why? Because I care about my grandchildren. I want them to have every advantage in life, and one such advantage is the correct use of language in speech. There is a simple reason why one does not hear physicians, lawyers, ministers, public speakers, politicians, CEOs, small business owners, corporate-level salespersons, talk-show hosts, or loan officers peppering their speech with the misuse of “like,” and the simple reason is that such peppering sounds immature, ignorant, and uneducated. It is also highly annoying to anyone who speaks correctly.

            During a recent airplane ride from Phoenix to Charlotte, I was forced to listen while the young woman directly in back of me told her life story to her seatmate for the entire four-plus hours. Said autobiography featured the word “like,” misused at least 4,356 times. She like did this and then she like did that and then like this happened and then like that happened and then her like parents did like such-and-so and her like friends did like such-and-such and like like like like like like like another 4,341 times, all in a voice loud enough for half the plane to hear. By the way, she identified herself as a senior in college. Does she talk that way in class? Do her professors, consumed with the need to be liked (No pun intended, really, but it was a good one, eh?), not correct her? The problem is that this mannerism reflects a lack of proper thinking. If one is thinking properly, one speaks properly. Conversely, when one is not speaking properly, one’s brain is not working properly. And be assured, it is possible, as this tale illustrates, for the brain of an intelligent person to not work properly.

            Every generation develops its rituals and badges of membership. Mine did, for sure, and to fit in I most definitely acquired them. But all I had to do to appear normal to potential employers was cut my hair and stop wearing sunglasses indoors. Looking like Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider” was not a bad habit I had to struggle to break. I know that the repetitive misuse of “like,” starting in pre-adolescence, is going to be an extremely bad habit to break because it quickly develops into an involuntary vocal tic. I see that potential in my grandson. I want him to enter adulthood with every possible advantage and as few liabilities as possible.

            Which is why I won’t tolerate it. Every loving parent, grandparent, and teacher should be so intolerant.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions at www.rosemond.com.

Article 8

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

            If my parents told me once, they told me at least one hundred times, “Don’t talk to anyone about their religious or political beliefs.” They meant, of course, that those topics are likely to generate tension and angry conflict. As such, they were not the stuff of polite social conversation. Notwithstanding the fact that I find religion and politics to be the two most interesting of all conversational topics, a third caution should be added to the list: parenting. In other words, don’t talk to anyone about how they are raising their children.

            Numerous people from all over the country have told me of parenting disagreements that led to the breakup of even close friendships. I’ve long ago lost count of the parents and grandparents who’ve told me sad tales of how such conflicts have caused alienations within extended families. Teachers and administrators constantly convey stories of parents who take their children’s sides whenever academic or disciplinary issues arise at school. Most significant, disagreements between husband and wife over how to raise children, especially over when and how to discipline them, have become a major cause of divorce, ranking right up there with conflicts over sex and money.

            This trend has been exacerbated by the growing popularity of radical parenting philosophies like attachment parenting, advocates of which promote extended breast-feeding and parent-child co-sleeping. As a prime example, the divorce of former child actress Mayim Bialik, author of Beyond the Sling, a best-seller on attachment parenting, is currently in the works. Actually, that came as no surprise. Reading her book, I got the distinct impression that she and her husband did not see eye-to-eye where their kids were concerned.

            Whether it’s a matter of complaints by men of playing second fiddle to the kids or complaints by women of husbands who come home from work and undermine their attempts to keep the kids under control, it’s obvious that marriage, once entered into for the purpose of having children, is now threatened by children.

            Fifty-plus years ago, there was general consensus on how children should be raised. That consensus has been shattered. I submit that the shattering began when parents began relying on advice from experts who themselves did not agree on even the most fundamental of parenting matters. I am acutely aware, for example, that a significant number of mental health professionals do not appreciate (a mild way of putting it) my traditionalist perspective. But even if I was taken out of the equation, agreement in the mental health community would still be lacking.

            The larger problem, however, is that when the parenting traditions of a culture begin disintegrating and are replaced by parenting anarchy, the very survival of the culture is threatened. Until relatively recently, parents were trying to raise children such that America was sustained and strengthened. Today’s parents, by and large, have tunnel vision. Their parenting is all about the child or children. The needs of the forest are ignored in all the fuss over the supposed “needs” of the individual trees.

            And no one can agree over what the trees need in the first place.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions at www.rosemond.com.

Article 7

Disobedience In The Home

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

 

Q:       It seems our 1 year old is showing willful disobedience. We tell him “no” and try to redirect but he does the same things over and over again. The things in question include turning over and not being cooperative when I’m trying to change him, slapping us in the face, and standing up during bath time. I’m trying to be creative with ways to entertain him and make things fun but am getting weary. Any advice on how I can correct him?

 

A:        I’m fairly certain this is your first child because the examples you gave of “willful disobedience” are typical of this age. By thinking of them as acts of defiance that need correction, you’re setting the stage for ongoing, and ever-worsening, power struggles. In other words, the problem here is not his behavior; it’s your perspective, your interpretation of his behavior.

            The proper perspective is “so what?” So what if he squirms when you are trying to change him? So what if changing him takes three minutes instead of two? So what if he stands up in the tub? Just steady him with one hand and wash him with the other. Or, wash him in the kitchen or laundry room sink so that you are standing up and can exercise more physical control of him while he’s standing.

            So what if he slaps you in the face? At this age, this is not purposeful aggression. When it first occurred, it was random. Your reaction—startled? angry?—interested him, and he wants to see it again. The solution is (a) to do your best to not put your face within striking range, (b) to intercept as many slaps as you can, and (c) react nonchalantly when an attempt to intercept isn’t successful.

            The attempt on your part to entertain and make things fun may be part of the problem. Without intention, your “entertainments” may be exciting him and stimulating his activity level. You may believe, as do many of today’s moms, that you should be constantly talking to your child in order to promote “bonding” as well as proper language development. There’s a grain of truth in that, but it’s not much more than a grain. When mothers didn’t have lots of time to devote to their children, children still learned how to talk and talk well.

            If all you did was sing one of your favorite songs while you’re changing your son, for example, that’s language stimulation enough. In other words, you don’t have to be talking directly at your son for him to develop good language skills. And when you do talk to him, your tone does not have to be upbeat and “entertaining.” It can be very matter-of-fact, in fact. You do not have to make everything seem fun. You said you were getting weary, and a lot of effusive child-centeredness may well be the reason why.

            Fifty-plus years ago, before robotic vacuum cleaners, programmable washing machines, and microwave ovens, mothers didn’t have time to pay lots of attention to their kids. They paid enough. And when they did pay attention, they didn’t act like cruise ship recreation directors. And their kids seemed to have turned out reasonably well.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.

 Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.

 Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.  Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.  Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.  Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.  Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

Article 6

The main reason parents fail at solving discipline problems

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

            One of the reasons—it’s probably in the top three reasons, in fact—that parents fail at solving discipline problems is they try to solve too many at once. In so doing, they scatter their disciplinary energy too thinly and end up solving none. The only thing they accomplish is getting more frustrated and more convinced that there is something about their child that renders discipline ineffective—a gene perhaps, inherited from the father (who else?), that causes a biochemical imbalance.

            If a corporation manufactures ten products that are all losing money, its managers do not try to rehabilitate all ten products at once. Instead, they focus their marketing energy and dollars on one. They are fairly certain that the renewed success of that one item will have a positive effect on the other nine. And they’re right! Shortly after bingobangos begin showing a profit, whatchamas and humperdoos begin operating in the black as well. Pretty soon, all ten products are doing well. Mind you, if management had tried to jump-start all ten at once, the corporation would have gone bankrupt.

            And so it is when dealing with discipline problems. No matter how many there are, pick one—it doesn’t really matter which one—and deal with it in a very organized way. When you have solved that one problem, you will almost surely notice that one or two other problems have spontaneously vanished. I call it “disciplinary math.” If you start with ten discipline problems—tantrums, disobedience, disrespect, teasing the dog, leaving clothes all over the house, and so on—and you solve one, you are likely to find that you only have seven problems left. Solve one of those and you have only four left. Four problems minus one is one and that goes the way of the other nine as soon as your child sees you focusing on it. During this process, which may take several months from start to finish (time well spent), just muddle through the problems you haven’t yet targeted. Their day will come.

            I once consulted with a couple whose early-elementary-age son was giving them fits. In addition to speaking disrespectfully, ignoring instructions, and interrupting conversations, he was not getting ready for school on time in the morning. The parents took turns haranguing, hectoring, and hassling until he was finally ready to leave the house. Because their day almost always got off on the wrong foot, they were eager to solve that problem. Instead, I helped them develop an organized approach to the disrespectful statements that flew out of his mouth whenever things didn’t go his way.

            A few weeks later, the parents told me that the disrespect had all but completely stopped. Oh, and by the way, their son was getting ready to leave for school in the morning without being harangued and so on. And other problems were showing improvement as well!

            “Disciplinary math” may defy the rules of arithmetic, but it works!

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.

 Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.  Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.  Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.  Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.  Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

Article 5

Big Difference Between Raising Kids Now And Back Then

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

            American parents have been listening to professional psycho-babblers tell them how to raise children since the late 1960s. I was in graduate school at the time, and my professors thought the babblers were geniuses, sent by some New Age divinity to correct all the egregious wrongs parents had done to children since time immemorial. Children were about to enter a Golden Age in which their opinions would not only be listened to but also taken into consideration, and from an early age. And they would be allowed to express their feelings freely! And parents and teachers were going to tell them how wonderful they were and how everything they did was wonderful and so children would do more and more wonderful things and the Age of Aquarius would dawn and peace and love would fill the universe!

            Problem is, it didn’t turn out quite the way it was planned. Indeed, parents and teachers did all the “right” things. In fact, nearly everything they did was pretty much the opposite of the way previous generations of parents had done things. The result? Well, let’s just say the Age of Aquarius has yet to dawn. Child mental health in America, across the demographic spectrum, has declined markedly in the last fifty or so years. Compared with a kid from my generation, today’s child is five to ten times more likely to become clinically depressed before his or her sixteenth birthday. And parenting, as it is now termed, has become the single most stressful thing a woman will do in her adult life. Mind you, her great-grandmother probably raised a lot more kids and experienced very little stress. She was, however, able to stress her kids rather effectively.

            When are parents—mothers, especially—going to get it? When are they going to wake up to the fact that the babblers have done nothing—and yes, I mean nothing—but damage? In my estimation, the Age of Aquarius will begin when American parents shut the babblers down and return parenting—to borrow from the vernacular of the 1960s—back to the people!

            Because today’s parents have no experiential understanding of the way it was, I’ll highlight a few of the more salient features of pre-1960s childhood. But before I do, I’ll respond to those who claim that I “idealize” the 1950s. No, I do not. I simply maintain what is verifiable fact: American children were better off back then—as well off, in fact, as they’d ever been and certainly a whole lot happier than today’s kids.

            The biggest difference was that mom and dad paid more attention to and talked more to one another than they paid attention to and talked to their kids. In fact, kids back then didn’t get a whole lot of attention from their parents. We were supposed to pay attention to them, not they to us. And so, by the time we went to school, we’d learned to give our undivided attention to adults, which is why we were taught successfully (our academic achievement was much higher than today’s kids) in overcrowded classrooms. By the time we were in our early elementary years, we were doing more for our moms, in the form of chores, than they were doing for us. Oh, and our moms weren’t “involved” with us. Oh, happy day! They expected us to figure out our own entertainment, do our own homework, settle our own squabbles, lie in the beds we made, and stew in our own juices. Need I point out that today’s mom is doing nearly all of that for her child, including the stewing?

            We were allowed to express our opinions, but they didn’t count for much (and shouldn’t have). And no, we were definitely not allowed to express our feelings freely. Have you ever met someone who expresses his or her feelings freely, without regard for the sensibilities of others? That defines an obnoxious, narcissistic, sociopathic boor.

            Finally, I am a proud member of the last generation of American kids who weren’t allowed to have high self-esteem. When a child back then had an outburst of high self-esteem, his parents told him he was acting too big for his britches, which is what high self-esteem is all about anyway—popping one’s britches.

            And yet, we were happier. We may have missed the Aquarian train, but I hear it ran off the tracks sometime around 1975 anyway.

 Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.  Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.  Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.  Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.  Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

Article 4

Because I Said So

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2011, John K. Rosemond

 

            While working in my secret parenting laboratory, hidden deep beneath the earth’s surface and accessible only by me and a small, select team of associates, I recently made what I believe is a huge and history-making breakthrough that promises to greatly improve parenting the world over.

            For years, I have stood almost alone among America’s parenting pundits in defending the legitimacy of “Because I said so,” perhaps the most maligned four words in all of human history. I have gone on record as saying that “Because I said so” affirms the authority of the parent, provides an honest answer to a child’s demand to know the reason behind the parent’s decision, and all but eliminates the possibility of mutually debilitating parent-child argument.

            I have pointed out that adults have to accept the BISS principle—when we pay our state and federal taxes, for example—and asserted that it is in the best interest of children therefore that adults make them aware of this reality from an early age. Furthermore, there is no evidence that “Because I said so” damaged the mental health of my generation—the last bunch of American kids to be universally exposed to it; there is no good reason to think, therefore, that it will damage the psyches of today’s children (although they do seem a tad more fragile than we were).

            No short list of folks have suggested alternatives to BISS, such as “Because I am an adult and you are a child and it is my responsibility to make decisions of this sort on your behalf and you will not understand my actual reason until you are my age and have a child your age, so there’s no point in my sharing it with you, and whether you agree or not, you have to obey.” Needless to say, the child lost the parent at “responsibility.” Given the choice, I would recommend the simpler, shorter form.

            Never would I recommend that BISS be said in other than a kind, yet decisive tone of voice. It should not be screeched at a child, but then neither should anything else. But all of this may be moot, because after years of painstaking and highly secret research, I have discovered an alternative that is even shorter and, therefore, sweeter: “Trust me.”

            Think of it! A child asks (demands to know) “Why?” or “Why not?” and the parent in question simply says “Trust me.” That pretty much says it all. Most important, it affirms that the parent knows what is best for the child, whatever the situation. The parent knows (but the child does not) that eating broccoli is better than eating deep fried processed proto-junk, that play should be balanced with household responsibilities, that “my friends all have one!” is not justification for buying a 12-year-old a cell phone, and so on.

            Children do not know what is best for them. They only know what they want. And given the choice between what is best and what they want, they can be relied upon to choose the latter. Furthermore, when parents make the right choice for a child, there are no words under the sun that will cause the child to agree. The child will agree when he or she is an adult and is the parent of children who are demanding what they want. No sooner.

            In the meantime, all one can do is ask the child to trust. To which someone might say, “But he won’t understand that either!” That’s all right. Faith is a long-term investment.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers questions at www.rosemond.com.

 

Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.

 

Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.

Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.

Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

 

Article 3

Living With Children

Living with Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

 

Q:        Our 17-year-old is a highly spoiled underachiever. As a junior in high school, he’s failing two classes and borderline in the rest. We know that his problems are largely due to our parenting style. We read your book on teens and have made some progress, but we’re feeling a sense of urgency. We’re ready to do some drastic things. Where do you think we should start?

 

A:        As you now realize, your son is in dire need of a major wake-up call. Start by stripping his room down to bare essentials, taking away any and all electronic devices, and suspending all of his privileges, including driving. Inform him that his normal life will be restored when he has improved his grades to no less than what he’s capable of and sustained the improvement for eight weeks. Anything less will invite cursory improvement, then backsliding. You could get stuck in that sort of manipulative back-and-forth forever.

            Unfortunately, this is an eleventh-hour action. Obviously, the earlier parents intervene in a problem, the better the prognosis. On the other hand, it’s better to do something late than to never do anything at all. At this point, there’s a lot of history (and momentum) behind your son’s motivation issues. Getting him to turn himself around is going to require a unified front and calm, purposeful resolve. Don’t expect to see consistent progress for at least six weeks. Keep the faith, stay the course, and be fully prepared for things to get worse before they begin getting better.

            “Why is that, John?”

            Because when parents finally pull the rug of over-indulgence out from under an underachieving child, the typical reaction is full collapse along with complaints from the child to the effect that since he has no privilege, he now has nothing to care about; therefore, he is not going to do anything to bring up his grades until certain privileges are restored. Believe me, this is nothing more than manipulative self-drama, soap opera, with a heavy dose of attempted hostage-taking thrown in. It’s an attempt to get the parents to question their judgment and begin negotiating.

            “Will you give me my cell phone back if I bring my grades up for a week?” or “If you give me my cell phone and driving privileges back, I’ll bring my grades up, I promise.”

            Don’t do it! If your son begins making promises of that sort, don’t believe a word he says. Simply smile and tell him that if he can bring his grades up for a week, he can surely bring them up for two weeks, then three, then eight. Keep reminding him that you’re not asking him to do any more than he is capable of. If you give him even the proverbial inch, he will think he can make you give up the proverbial mile. In no time, you’ll be right back where you started from, but he will know that he can beat you at your own game.

            So, don’t play games. Go into this fully prepared for backlash of one sort or another. His reaction is likely to include anger, self-pity, and threats of running away or other equally silly things. This is your golden opportunity to get control of your relationship with your son. Given that he’s 17, it may be your last opportunity. Don’t blow it.

            Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.

Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.

Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.

Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.

Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.

 

Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.

Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.

Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

Article 2

Living With Children

John Rosemond

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

Q:        Our two sons are in the fifth and sixth grades at a private school that just held a father-daughter dance. Now the school has announced that it’s putting on a mother-son dance so as not to leave out the boys. I really don’t want to attend this. It’s just not my thing. One of our boys says he doesn’t really want to go. The other one says he’d like to go but doesn’t mind if I don’t want to. What are your thoughts?

 

A:        This sounds like so much politically-correct silliness to me. Boys, generally speaking, don’t want to be “equal” to girls. They’re perfectly content with girls receiving certain privileges they don’t receive and enjoying certain girls-only activities. This continues into adulthood, where one finds that men don’t mind women having social clubs and business organizations that are gender-exclusive.

            I think a mother-son dance is benign (albeit the school’s reason for putting it on is), but if you don’t want to participate, then don’t. If your boys had strong feelings about attending, and most of their friends were going to be there, I’d recommend that you grin and bear it. Be prepared, however, for the boys to all want to get together on one side of the room and talk about boy stuff.

            As an alternative, consider creating your own mother-son experience. Take your boys out to a nice restaurant and teach them proper etiquette, for example. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the world is sorely lacking in young men who know to pull out chairs and open doors for women.

Q:        Our 9-year-old (only child) is home-schooled. He starts out well for about one hour, but then the wheels start falling off. He has to constantly be told what to do, but if you don’t stand over him, it doesn’t get done. My wife is tired of trying to teach a child that seems unwilling to be taught. We can take all of his things away from him and it doesn’t bother him. Suggestions?

 

A:        I am a home-school proponent, but I’m also a realist. Home-schooling is not a one-size-fits-all educational option. Some children accept the responsibility well; others, like your son, do not..

            I’ve said many times in this column that parents should not home-school a child with whom they are having significant discipline issues. Needless to say, oppositional behavior in the home-school context is highly counterproductive. Behavior problems need to be resolved before home-schooling is undertaken.

            The other problem here may be that your wife is using a curriculum that requires too much involvement on her part. Micro-management works no better in a home-school than in any other situation. That quicksand can be avoided by getting plugged into a home-school cooperative where teaching responsibilities are shared among several moms and the children are taught in a small group.

            Your local or state home-school coordinator can help you find a suitable home-school group as well as, if need be, a more functional set of educational materials.

Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.

Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.  Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.  Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

Article 1

Living with Children

Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond

“Discipline That Little Ones Understand”

Q: My kids, 4 and 3, are very loud. They yell and run inside the house. They bang toys, get into loud conflicts, and my son likes to scare his little sister by growling like a dinosaur. I know most of this stuff is normal, but I’ve got a new baby on the way, and I’m worried that the baby isn’t going to be able to get enough rest during the day. Should I punish or just lighten up? 

A: I don’t know if you need to lighten up or not, but you most definitely have the right to protect yourself—and baby-on-the-way—from aural assault. It is not unreasonable to expect children to play quietly. Fun and quiet are not incompatible.

Your kids are old enough to understand the “Three Strike Rule.” They start the day with no strikes. When they get too loud, for whatever reason, they BOTH get a strike, no matter who was the louder one or who started it. Just walk in to where they are and say, “That’s strike one,” and walk out. They’ll get it in no time.

When they get to three strikes, they spend one hour in their respective rooms. Use a timer to avoid dealing with “Can we come out now?” The slate is then wiped clean and they start over. If they get to three strikes twice in the same day, they spend the rest of the day in their respective rooms and go to bed early.

That’s a very systematic, yet simple way of dealing with this sort of problem. Done with dispassion and consistency, that strategy should have you saying “There is no place like home!” within a few weeks.

Q: My son just turned 3. When I punish him by taking something away from him (a particular toy or book taken for a day), he immediately follows with “But maybe tomorrow?” like it doesn’t phase him at all as long as he has an end in sight. I have been reticent to do a big bombshell takeaway like you advocate in some of your books, only because his infractions, taken individually, are minor. The worst things are occasionally not listening and an occasional lie (he told me recently that his Daddy said he could do something…I found out later his Daddy said no such thing). Is it okay to do a dramatic consequence (e.g., no trains for a week) for those sorts of things at this age?

A: To set the record straight, I rarely advocate “big bombshell” consequences with children under the age of 4, and then only for persistent misbehavior that either is or has the potential of becoming serious. You’re not describing anything more than typical “flack.” If you over-react to flack, you are very likely to end up in a major power struggle. Yes, I do advocate nipping misbehavior in the proverbial bud, but you can send the “I won’t tolerate that” message without pulling out a weapon of mass destruction. When it comes to consequences, overkill can create more problems than it solves.

Your son is asking if he can have his toy or privilege back “tomorrow” because tomorrow is about as far into the future as a 3-year-old can envision. In addition, “tomorrow” to a 3-year-old is anything in the future. His question is simply an attempt to make sure that whatever you’ve taken away isn’t gone forever. It merits no concern whatsoever.

When he doesn’t listen right away, take something away until “tomorrow.” When you think he might be lying, just say, “I don’t think so” and walk away. At this age, the occasional lie about small stuff is to be expected. The less a “big deal” you make of these little deviations, the more quickly they will die a natural death.

All told, it sounds like you’re doing fine. Stay the course! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to laugh.

 

Family psychologist John Rosemondis one of America’s busiest and most popular speakers in the parenting field. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 14 best-selling parenting books including“Parenting by the Book/Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child.”  Rosemond advocates a practical approach to parenting which allows children to develop as unique and caring individuals under the leadership of parents who use effective boundaries and discipline.

 

Go to www.rosemond.com for the 2012 John Rosemond speaking schedule and to invite him to your community.

Family psychologist John Rosemond is on a mission to help parents claim loving leadership of their families. He’s known for his sound advice, humor, and relaxed, engaging style giving talks weekly to parent, church and professional organizations all over the map. John is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers nationwide and has written 15 best-selling parenting books, including his latest, Parent Babble, How parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.

Click here to view John’s calendar and here to invite him to your community. Or contact Jessica Lalley at 404-858-4816.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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