Saturday, February 15, 2020

It Takes a Man to Teach a Boy to be a Man

I read John Rosemond's June articles on fathering and see the pattern he sees all the time: grown-up sons who amount to nothing.  I have 3 boys ages 9, 7, and 4 and want much better for them.  There are hardly any good books on fathering and John's books give advice to both parents. 

The only books I can recommend on being a husband and father are Rev. CR Wiley's books, "Man of the House" and "The Household and the War for the Cosmos." 

Does John have any specific advice and timelines on what fathers should teach their sons?  For example, should fathers teach them how to make things, repair things, personal finance, self-defense, how to talk to women, etc? When should fathers teach their sons things?

I've noticed that women are primarily interested in safety and nurture and men are much more "law and order" and are more-inclined to give their boys freedom to take risks.  It seems to me that emphasis on safety and nurture are detrimental after a certain age and definitely prevent boys from developing into men.  This is where fathers are really important.  Does John (or anyone else) have an opinion on how to raise boys who are resilient and self-motivated?

 In general, in a two-parent home, the primary responsibility in raising boys should be gradually transferred from the wife to the husband when the boys are still in elementary schools. I'm not positive about your marital status, but either way--the ball's in your court now with your sons. Remember: IT TAKES A MAN TO TEACH A BOY TO BE A MAN. And this is NOT to underplay the importance of the mother in a boy's life whatsoever.  But I do believe you are correct in saying that safety and nurture should gradually give way to more risk-taking freedom. You want to teach your boys how to protect others, not to have to be protected by others.  I also believe that teaching boys about personal finances, household/car repairs, self-defense, etc., are very important skills  to be taught. But the traditional, Judeo-Christian view of the characteristics that make a man:  good manners, good citizenship, toughness, sacrifice, composure, responsibility---should be taught from day one; especially the art of how to treat women. Teach your boys  to hold the door open for women and  say "yes, Ma'am" and "no, Ma'am." Teach them that women are to go ahead of them in line. Teach them to value the opinion of a woman as much as  or more than their own. And don't allow pornography to infiltrate their lives in any way.  And the only way for a boy to learn these skills is to practice them. A man without manners is not a man at all.

We don't want to raise wussified men. Love your sons dearly, tenderly--but never coddle them or allow them to play the victim. Some of what I said is not politically correct, and you will not hear much of this from some of the books on parenting. So YOU will have to teach your boys--starting now. It is never too early. And once you have trained them and they have mastered these concepts,  they will stand out from the rest of the world. They will be different than most--but in such a good way! 

Contact me for any further advice.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"


Friday, January 31, 2020

Too Much To-Do From a Toddler

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

At 21 months, your daughter is still at the age where punishment/consequences are not the answer. She is still in Stage 1, the Season of Service, where she is solely dependent upon you, yet she thinks she is at the center of the universe; and that if you don't respond to her desires constantly and continually as she would like you to, she may very become upset.

First, you cannot enable your child by picking her up each time she cries. Once you develop that habit, she will become conditioned to cry until you do pick her up--even if it takes an hour of crying/fussing. Secondly, inform her that you will pick her up only when she stops crying, whining. And avoid, if at all possible, picking her up when she does so.  Only pick her up after she has been quiet for several seconds--even minutes as she learns her lesson.  If she continues throwing a fit, pick her up and place her in her crib. And leave her there.  And trust me--she will not be happy. Buy some ear plugs-ha!  After 5-15 minutes, if she is quiet, you may get her. If she hasn't calmed down, be prepared to wait her out. The next time she "has a cow", you can try playing deaf and ignore her, but after a time---back to the crib she goes.  Use the baby monitor to periodically check on her if need be. And get ready--- she WILL wail for an extensive period of time at first.  One little thing I would do if I had to go get my daughter out of her crib for an appointment or a meal, etc., was I would go to her crib room door and while she was fussing, open it a crack and bark like a dog one time, then another, etc., hoping she would stop her crying long enough  to listen for a second so I could get her. But I always tried my best not to get her until there was some semblance of silence.  Be prepared!  The first few times she is "encribbed," she will throw an extensive fit; it will pull on your heartstrings and test your patience. But if you don't cave at all, she will be become trained to be calm and ask nicely if she wants attention and hugs.  And by the way, when she does ask you to pick her up in a nice manner, you should most of the time early on. But as time moves on, you should be able to say "no"  off and on without a negative reaction on her part. Learning to entertain herself for extensive periods of time is a "must" for a child, so as to enhance their imagination and creativity---and allow you some peace and quiet.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"
Certified Parenting Coach

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Kerfuffling Kids

Hi! I have a 9 year old daughter and boy/girl twin 7 year olds. The twins tend to play really nicely together. They are also in the same class and the same group on the swim team. My 9 year old has verbalized feeling left out on multiple occasions. We encourage them to all play together but it often ends in a fight. Three really does seem to be a crowd! The 9 year old sometimes chooses a twin to play with and then leaves the other one out or is mean to them. I can’t properly describe it but it’s really sad and hard to watch. I don’t know what to do other than encourage them to all play together and talk to her about how she’s acting. Please help!

Stop monitoring their playtime, and RELAX. Stop trying to figure out who's to blame, and who's the victim. Stop allowing them to run in and whine to you.  Stop listening to each child's "side of the story."
         Give them two rules when the three of them play together: 1) No whining, running to mom, or tattling 2) No physicality(pushing, punching, etc).  Other than that, let them fight their own battles--without your involvement. Relax and enjoy the time alone. Maturity in a child comes with experiencing conflict, AND figuring out how to work things out between each other. Feelings will get hurt and one child may get left out at times. That's okay. Any time they break one of the rules and one comes to you whining or hurt from being hit---ALL three should be put in the PeaceMaking Room, a room such as the boring laundry room where there is very little to do, no entertainment, etc. Set an alarm clock for 15 minutes--if they keep complaining or slow-walk it to the PeaceMakingRoom(PR), then keep adding minutes: if they have to go to the bathroom or get a drink, add a minute, etc.  Do not listen to each individual's "story", just tell them they have 60 seconds(or whatever)to get in the PR. Their job in the PR is to work things out between each other and when the allotted time is up, you will check and see if they have solved the problem(s). Then they may come out.  If they haven't, add more time and back in to the PR they go. Invariably, they will say that they have worked things out. You may send them out to play again, or add a bit of spice to their punishment if the situation seems extra egregious, by assigning an extra  chore for them to do first.
In essence, when one breaks either of the two playtime rules, ALL must enter the PR.(One caveat: If you start to notice a pattern over time where one sibling in particular seems to be the one consistently causing the conflict, only that child will be sent to the PR; in addition, an early bedtime for a week or so may be in order). It won't take long before this goes from an major, emotionally-wrenching stressor, to just a periodic, rare, minor kerfuffle.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Prevarications, Pranks and Privileges

My 5 year old child seems to be developing a habit for lying.  Last night, he stayed with a friend and her two kids while I attended a meeting.  On our way home, he told me this..."Zachary did something really, really bad tonight.  His Mom told him to get the toys picked up and now!  But, he just kept on playing and she brought the belt in and whipped his tail....he still didn't pick up the toys and she made him go to bed to sleep".   I said, "really?"  He further added a couple of details....  Following this supposed incident....I asked if he was sure that really happened...he again said yes!  I then told him that I noticed When I returned he and Zachary were playing and picking up toys when I, if his Mom sent Zachary to bed to sleep, how was he still up when I got there?  Of course, he had no answer.....I then told him that when we got home and I was not driving, I would either call or text Miss Amanda to find out what happened because she didn't mention any of that to me when I picked him up.  The, the "Oh no Grandma, don't call her or text her, I was just pranking you!".  I used that opportunity to given him examples of a "prank" verses telling a lie.....

This isn't the first time he has given me detailed situations which were entirely made up occurred.  His mother, my daughter was an avid liar and still is today.  I really want and need to try to nip this bad habit in the bud.  We have had many past conversations about telling the truth with positive reinforcement for the truth and no significant negative consequences when he is truthful even if it's something he knew better than to do....

Suggestions to curb this habit now?


"What a tangled web of tales we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"  What an imagination youngsters possess, and the raging rush a preschooler feels when he first starts learning to tell a lie is tantalizing.  As their moral sense develops, we hope our children will outgrow the deceptive tendencies that all children possess at some point during their growing-up years. Because of the ubiquity of Imagination Prevarication all children, I believe things will work out fine--as long as you nip it in the bud NOW. Dishonesty, deception and lying are very serious matters deserving of very serious consequences. In addition, lying DOES work in the short term, so it can be addicting.  Suggestions:
     1. Let your grandson know that until further notice, pranking is equivalent to lying.
     2. When you think he is lying--he is. Even if later you discover he really hadn't been lying in a particular instance, his past behavior has given rise to your assumption of his lying. Be sure and let your son know that his habitual past behavior will definitely influence your present viewpoint.
    3. Since lying can develop into a serious habit, serious consequences are needed.  The next time  he tells one of his "stories", take away several of his prized possessions and privileges--ones that will make him feel some emotional pain when he cannot avail himself of them. He can earn one possession/privilege back for every week or ten days he goes without lying.  And each time he lies , he loses another possession/privilege. In 2-3 months, hopefully this budding habit will be a thing of the past.
4.  Avoid talking about his lying if at all possible. Don't get into long discussions about it. The less it is discussed, the less the attention he will get for his "stories."
5.  I have allowed for my children's imaginative storytelling, as long as he is not intentionally trying to mislead
  Let me know how it all works out.

Mike Smart, CLPC


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Making an Imprint

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Our two girls (6-year old and 4-year old) share one room. Today my wife told them to clean the table before dinner (where they made a mess while playing) and the girls just ignored her request. My wife then told them that she would do it herself and cleaned the table. After the dinner we canceled going for a walk and sent the girls to their room and explained the reason for doing so. It was around 7 pm. We told them to stay in their beds quietly. The beds are located approximately 4 feet from each other. First the older girl was more obedient and stayed in her bed, while the younger kept getting off the bed. We checked on them from time to time and when we saw 4-year old girl out of the bed or in the bed but with toys, we corrected her (returned her back in the bed or took away the toys). Whenever the younger girl was out of bed, the older girl would tell us on her or would secretly try to play with her.
Around 9 pm I told the girls to sleep, but few minutes later I found out that the older girl got in the bed to the younger girl and they were playing together. I pinched both of them, separated them, tucked them in and wished them good night.
Around 10 pm they were not sleeping yet and my wife came in to check on them. They prayed together and my wife sang a song, which helped them to fall asleep.

So we have 2 questions.
Question 1: What should we do when one of them or both of them do not stick to the punishment plan like described above?
Question 2: How to deal with the older girl telling on her sister? (On the one hand we are informed that the younger girl breaks the rules, but on the other hand we don’t like this telling on stuff).

Thank you in advance!

You need to tell  your children know that from now on there will be
 1. No tattling, unless there are some extreme safety concerns. AND  2. If mom or dad ever has to do a chore that was assigned to you and we  have to do it, the hammer comes down with a very serious, memorable and persuasive consequence.

Answer to Question 1:   First off, I really didn't see any punishment given. Sending them to their room with toys available and with beds only four feet apart  sounds like a perfect setup for some mischievous banana time in the monkey cage. It is quite difficult for a four and six year old to deny the temptation to disobey with that setup.  They would probably rather have this punishment than clean up their initial mess.  The punishment needs to be truly felt emotionally by each girl. My recommendation is to separate them into different rooms; rooms where toys and fun distractions are not readily available. 

 Answer to question 2:  Don't allow tattling. So what if one of them happens to break a minor rule and you don't "catch them" or you don't know about it? Just relax and enjoy your break from the little ones. However, if  they know that YOU know a  rule was broken, THEN you will have to deal with it. Also do you really need to check on them off and on, and re-separate them into their own beds and re-tuck them in?  Just enjoy some husband-wife alone time. Just let them play together till they fall asleep. Does it really matter if they are in the same bed? Or if one ends up sleeping the night on the floor?

Final notes:  Based on the information given, I believe you need to change your philosophy about consequences. You need to etch a permanent imprint of the consequence on the mind of the disobeyers , with the goal in mind  that they won't disobey again. They WILL clean up after themselves--or they know they cannot go on tomorrow's playdate;  or they will not be able to go to their friend's birthday party; or TV or video games or any screens whatsoever will be off limits for the next 10 days; or maybe paint the fence out back, etc., etc..... I have a feeling the punishments that you have been implementing have  amounted to know more than a slap on the wrist. Remember-- It's okay if they cry. Crying at this age probably means you have administered the appropriate discipline. "Discipline is painful for the moment, but will eventually produce a harvest of righteousness and peace, in the long run."

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting Outsmarted"

When to Intervene in School Issues

Image by Ernesto Eslava Pixabay

My almost 10-year-old son came home in hysterical tears yesterday. His side of the story is that at school he saw someone’s school ID on the floor, picked it up, and asked, “Whose ID is this?” and then the teacher put him in time out and took away his recess for the next day. He kept saying he thought he was doing something good but then got punished. This kid has had a total of two behavior marks his entire school career and on the same day came home with a thank you note from the vice principal thanking him for coaching other kids in math.  Something didn’t seem right so I emailed his homeroom teacher asking if there was more to the story.  But… should I have interfered?  Should this have been a lesson in “sometimes life isn’t fair”? 

Hi Elizabeth!  I appreciate your situation, especially since I have been involved as a school professional for over thirty years. To answer your first question: No, you should have not interfered. In addition, I usually recommend an employment of a 72-hour Waiting Principle. Wait 72 hours. After that time, is this issue still a "thing?" It's been over three days since this episode. Is your son still in an emotional frenzy over the situation, or has he moved on? Simply waiting can be the best method.Things do have a way of working out if given time.  Understand that to some degree, all children live for the  short-term, possess weak emotional self-control, and in general, are "drama factories."   On the other hand, if this kind of episode becomes a pattern, I see no problem with a parent scheduling a sit-down session with a teacher. But the parent needs to go in to that session with the school teacher with the mindset that a 40-year old teacher with a Master's Degree and two children at home, will have a side of the story much more accurate and believable than any ten-year old's.  And in the grand scheme of things, this is just one of many molehills in your son's life. It is important not to make a mountain out of it. This is a great opportunity to train your son on how to emotionally handle all the vicissitudes of life.  Maybe suggest to your son that since he is growing up,  that he-by himself- ask the teacher for some clarification.  We want our children to grow up to be completely emancipated and fully independent from us, don't we? Our running interference for our children during their time with us, may delay or even stunt their growth in that regard.

Mike Smart, CLPC


Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Enemy of my Enemy is my Sibling

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay
We have five children, and multiple questions, but I'll just focus on one here.  My oldest son and daughter (ages 10 and 7) fight regularly.  My son is a teaser, and my daughter is a screecher.  So it's a lovely combination.  At times my son has gotten physical with her, hitting her.  Then there are the times he touches her (like lightly hitting the back of her head) and she isn't really hurt, but her reaction is just as noisy.  Then today, (and this wasn't the first time) she turned around and punched one of her sisters, age 4, rather hard in the stomach.  That poor girl just takes it, though, and if I had not seen it with my own eyes, I might not have heard about it.  She was sent to her room for the rest of the day, and it was an effective consequence.  

My question is about how to let them try and resolve their own conflicts.  When my older daughter tells me that her older brother hit her, I have to take it with a grain of salt, and wade through the murky waters of trying to figure out what really happened.  Then with the 4 year old girl, I want to listen to her, but not turn her into a tattler, and get addicted to being the victim, although in truth, I think she tend to actually be.  How can I listen?  When do I need to listen?  When "punching" is really more like actually "lightly hitting" how do I draw the line?  (We have said that our son may not touch his sister at all, but that is an unrealistic statement.)  

First off--stop listening to each child's own individual versions.  Instead, use the  "Peacekeeping Room"--akin to John Rosemond's Conference Room--when it comes to dealing with sibling conflict. Put an index card on the refrigerator. Title the card with "Do not Disturb the Family Peace" and list three rules below it: 1.  Keep your conflict to yourselves. No one else should be disturbed.  2. Do not complain or tattle to Mom or Dad about each other.  3. Do not physically hurt one another(See ch. 4 of "The Well-Behaved Child" by John Rosemond). 
As much as you will be tempted to, try not to interfere at all with any sibling friction. Don't allow tattling, ignore the situation  and let them work it out, even if it seems that one person(usually the younger) is getting the short end of the stick; of course if one sibling is ALWAYS the loser in the situation, you may feel the need to jump in(periodically I have put just one of the offenders in the Peacekeeping Room)--but that should be RARE. 
However, if any of the three rules are definitely broken, ask no questions, and send the siblings to the "Peacekeeping Room"--a small room in the house, such as the laundry room , guest bedroom; a place that is small and boring--where they have to face each other and work the problem out with no distractions.   They are to set an alarm clock for 10-15 minutes,  go into the room and shut the door. When the alarm sounds, they may come out only if things have been worked out. If they haven't gotten things worked out, send them in again for another 15 minutes or more. It won't take long before they get the point.  
This is the best way for them to  learn Conflict Resolution and you are now not part of the equation at all. You carry no burden--they do. Eventually, they will not want to go in to that boring Peacekeeping Room, where there is nothing to do, and sibling rivalry will decrease significantly.

Mike Smart CLPC
"Parenting Outsmarted"

It Takes a Man to Teach a Boy to be a Man

QUESTION: I read John Rosemond's June articles on fathering and see the pattern he sees all the time: grown-up sons who amount t...